Japan is known for its amazing culture, high tech toilet, delicious food and friendly people. Its cities like Tokyo and Osaka are fusion of traditional and modern atmosphere. Japan is always special, at least for me. This time, I’ve got to visit Japan with Bandi, it’s his first visit to Japan; and we decided not to start our Japan adventure in the mainland, but rather southern from the mainland, much much southern, which is…
I will not make a post about how much I love Okinawa or reasons why you should visit Okinawa too, because trust me, OKINAWA is THE BEST beach destination for us. We love Okinawa so much that when we waited for our flight out of Okinawa, Bandi has already searched for another cheap flight ticket to Okinawa. He didn’t want to leave Okinawa so bad.
Don’t think twice to put Okinawa into your bucket list. This small Island (which surrounded by so many tiny islands) is a paradise! The food, the beach, the people…
So now let’s talk about technical stuff, because you’re going to Okinawa! No excuse!
How to reach Okinawa?
Fly there! The cheapest option would be flying from Taipei because there are a lot of budget airline from Taipei to Naha International Aiport (Okinawa). I flew with Peach Air from Taipei to Okinawa and it costed me S$100. The second cheapest would be flying local from Tokyo. I also heard there is a tourist package where you can buy from Tokyo to fly to Okinawa and return to Tokyo for only 1,000 Yen!
Another way is from Hongkong or Manila, which also have direct flight to Okinawa. But I didn’t do any search about it because I got my Taipei ticket before deciding to continue to Okinawa.
I believe there are various options to fly direct to Okinawa but usually they’re much more expensive. Singapore has direct flight to Okinawa by Silk Air, but I don’t even bother to check the price.
How to go around Okinawa Island?
Naha City is the biggest city in Okinawa and around Naha, there are trains and buses, however the public transport isn’t working so well in other parts of island like Nago and central Okinawa. (Naha is Southern Okinawa where Airport is in.) So the best choice for visitor is to rent a car! Cars are cheap to rent in Okinawa. I got mine for 18,000 yen for 4 days rent.
From Naha to Nago, it took us about 2 hours to drive if we continuously used toll road, which I found expensive. The normal road has so many traffic lights and could add another 1 hour traveling time. So your choice, time or money, literally.
How to go from one island to another island?
There are a lot of ferry port in Okinawa main island. We got a free tourist booklet from airport which is very informative about all the islands in Okinawa and how you get there, which ferry you should take, etc. People is also friendly and you can easily ask for information or just browse google on which ferry to take.
We visited Minna Island which is located in the western part of Okinawa, it took us about 20 minutes ferry ride. Minna Island was very small, we could walk from end to end in 10 minutes! We swam, snorkeled and relaxed on the beach.
Where should I stay in Okinawa?
Hotels are common in Naha City, while Nago has only expensive resort. We booked airbnb studio apartment in Naha which costed us around $300 for 4 nights. I believe you can get the same price for 3 star hotel, but you know how I feel about airbnb. :)
Is Okinawa expensive?
Comparing to mainland Japan, Okinawa is much cheaper! But Japan itself is labeled as expensive destination (which I don’t fully agree to). Personally I think Okinawa is the most valuable destination ever. I got super cheap flight ticket to go there, cheap amazing airbnb, cheap car rental, cheap foods and… FREE BEACH! Think about it, in order to relax and have fun in amazing beaches, you have to pay some fee, and sometimes a night in a resort… but not in Okinawa! There are some beaches that require entrance fee (500 yen to 1000 yen) but there are tons on beaches that are free! We, of course, went to all the free beaches. :p
So if you compare the amount of money with the free facilities, quality of food and extremely pristine clear water beaches, Okinawa is a steal!!!
What are the highlights of Okinawa?
I think 4 days in Okinawa is definitely not enough. I seriously want to come back for 1 week or 10 days trip to Okinawa, doing island hopping and some serious laziness-related beach activity like… reading while sunbathing. But 4 days is enough to make me fall in love. :)
So here’s the highlight:
The Beaches and lookouts
Of course, duh! Okinawan beaches have white sand and sparkling pristine water, which is everyone’s dream beach. The best thing about the beaches is free facilities, like free parking, free shower, free toilet and there is no street vendor that pushes you to buy stuffs like in other Asian beaches. And… I put my phone, car key and some change under my towel which I neglected on the beach and since it’s Japan, nobody stole it. JAPAN IS THE BEEEEST!
Since we drove a car, we could easily stop by at look-out points or lighthouses, Okinawa has tons of them. If only we stayed longer there, we would’ve gone for some picnic. But watch out for snakes!
It’s very touristy, but I kinda like it! This street is full of souvenir’s shop, restaurant and food stalls. Bandi’s favorite kind of street. If you decided to go to Kokusai Street, don’t forget to eat at Mahoroba Soba and try the Spicy Taiwanese noddle. I know it’s ironic to eat Taiwan type Soba in Okinawa. but it’s the best!!!
We didn’t manage to go in the castle because if time constraint, but even walking around the castle gave you an idea of how amazing this castle is.
Kin-town (The Amerinca Town)
We went there very late evening so not much to see, but try to visit this place to try the Okinawan Taco Rice! Taco rice doesn’t originally come from Mexico, It comes from Okinawa!
I don’t really fancy this, but you’ve got to try at least once. It’s a thick hot soba in a clear pork broth soup with mushrooms and sliced pork cheeks/bellies. It is delicious, but when you eat it in a tropical island where the sun is as hot as Zac Efron’s abs, you can’t fully enjoy it.
The islands around
This is the best highlight of Okinawa, the small islands around the mainland. As I mentioned before, try to search which island you’re interested in and find out which port has the ferry to bring you there.
It is a legendary “animal” which is a mixture of a lion and a dog, believed to protect Okinawan villagers, that’s why you will see a lot of Shisas guarding in front of people’s home or store.
There are so many other things which I haven’t explored in Okinawa which will always keep me wanting to come back. I hope this post inspires you to pack your back and go to Okinawa! It’s the most underrated place on earth. :)
Go go go!!!
May, missing beaches already