Top Things to Do in Okinawa Japan – Japan Travel Guide

Top Things to Do in Okinawa Japan - Beach

If you’re looking for an amazing vacation destination with beautiful beaches, stunning scenery, and delicious food, look no further than Okinawa, Japan.

Okinawa is vibrant and will provide you with awesome experiences. 

This gorgeous island chain is located in the East China Sea and offers visitors a wide variety of activities to enjoy.

From snorkeling and diving to hiking and exploring historic sites, there’s something for everyone in Okinawa.

Here are some of the top things to do in Okinawa Japan during your visit:

1. Go Snorkeling or Diving

Okinawa is home to some of the most beautiful reefs in the world. The clear turquoise waters offer great visibility for both snorkeling and diving.

Many different companies offer snorkeling and diving tours, so you can easily find one that fits your budget and schedule.

2. Snorkel in Cape Maeda

Swimming and sunbathing are popular activities at Cape Maeda. The beaches here have soft white sand and clear turquoise waters. Visitors can also rent kayaks and stand-up paddleboards to explore the area.

Several restaurants and cafes are located near the cape, so visitors can grab a bite to eat after a day in the sun.

Cape Maeda is located in the central part of Okinawa Island. It is a popular spot for both locals and tourists alike.

The cape is known for its beautiful scenery, crystal clear waters, and rich marine life. Cape Maeda was once used as a military base by the United States during World War II.

Today, it is a popular spot for diving, snorkeling, and swimming.

The waters around Cape Maeda are home to a variety of coral reefs and tropical fish.

The cape is also a good place to see loggerhead turtles, which come to the area to lay their eggs. Visitors can take a glass-bottom boat tour to see the marine life up close.

3. Explore Kouri Island

Kouri Island is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Okinawa.

The island is home to a beautiful coral reef, crystal clear waters, and white sand beaches.

Visitors can enjoy snorkeling, diving, and swimming in the warm waters.

Kouri Island is also a great place to relax and enjoy the stunning views of the East China Sea.

Kouri Island has a long and fascinating history. The island was once home to the Ryukyu Kingdom, an independent state that was founded in the 15th century.

The kingdom was ruled by a monarchy and had its own currency, language, and culture. In 1879, the kingdom was annexed by Japan and became part of the Okinawa Prefecture.

There are plenty of things to do on Kouri Island. Visitors can enjoy snorkeling, diving, swimming, and sunbathing on the beautiful beaches.

There are also several hiking trails on the island that offer stunning views

4. Travel Zamami Island

Zamami Island is a small island located off the coast of Okinawa. It is part of the Kerama Islands, which also includes Aka Island, Geruma Island, and Tokashiki Island.

Zamami Island is a popular tourist destination for its beautiful beaches and clear waters.

Visitors to Zamami Island can enjoy activities such as swimming, snorkeling, diving, and kayaking.

Zamami Island has a long history dating back to the Ryukyu Kingdom.

The island was once used as a base for the Ryukyuan navy. During the Meiji period, the island became a part of Okinawa Prefecture.

In 1946, Zamami Island was returned to Okinawa after World War II.

How to get to Zamami Island

Zamami Island can be reached by ferry from Naha or Tomari ports in Okinawa. The ferry ride takes about 2 hours. Visitors can also fly to Zamami Island from Naha Airport. The flight time is about 30 minutes.

Top Things to Do on Zamami Island

There are many things to do on Zamami Island. Here are some of the top things to do on Zamami Island:

Swim at the beaches

Zamami Island has many beautiful beaches. Visitors can swim, snorkel, and dive at the beaches.

Kayak around the island

Visitors can kayak around Zamami Island. There are many rental shops on the island.

Hike to viewpoint

There is a hike to a viewpoint on Zamami Island. The hike takes about 1 hour.

Visit the villages

There are two villages on Zamami Island. Visitors can learn about the history and culture of the island by visiting the villages.

5. Visit Cape Zanpa

Cape Zanpa is the westernmost point of Okinawa and home to a beautiful lighthouse.

The views from the cliffs here are stunning, making it a popular spot for sunset photography.

Visitors can also enjoy activities like snorkeling, fishing, and exploring the nearby caves.

The Cape Zanpa Lighthouse was built in 1817 to help guide ships into the nearby Naha Port.

The lighthouse is Okinawa’s oldest and has been designated as a national important cultural property.

The nearby caves were used as a hiding place by the Ryukyuan King during the 1429 invasion by the Japanese.

How to get to Cape Zanpa

Cape Zanpa is located in the Motobu area of Okinawa, about an hour drive from Naha Airport. Visitors can reach the cape by car or bus. There is also a hiking trail that leads from Nakijin Castle to Cape Zanpa, taking about 2-3 hours to complete.

Hedo Point - Okinawa Japan Travel

6. Explore Hedo Point

Hedo Point is located in the far north of Okinawa and is known for its beautiful beaches and clear waters.

It’s a popular spot for scuba diving, as there are many reefs and shipwrecks to explore.

There’s also great hiking in the area, with trails that lead up to scenic viewpoints.

Hedo Point has been a popular beach destination for centuries. It’s said that the Ryukyuan King enjoyed swimming here, and there are many old stories about the shipwrecks that can be found offshore.

How to get to Hedo Point?

Hedo Point is located in the Kunigami Village area of Okinawa, about two hours drive from Naha Airport. Visitors can reach the point by car or bus. There is also a hiking trail that leads from Cape Manzamo to Hedo Point, taking about 3-4 hours to complete.

When visiting Okinawa, be sure to add Hedo Point to your list of places to see.

7. Hike to the Top of Okinawa’s Highest Peak

If you’re looking for a challenging hike, then head to Mount Yonaha, the highest peak in Okinawa. The round-trip hike takes about 6-7 hours, so make sure you start early in the day.

You’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the island and surrounding ocean from the top.

Mount Yonaha is an important part of Okinawa’s history. It is the site of an ancient volcano that erupted over 3,000 years ago. The eruption created a large crater which is now filled with water.

The crater is known as the “Yonaha Pond” and is a popular spot for swimming and fishing.

The mountain is also home to the Yonaha Maeda Castle, which was built in the 16th century by the Ryukyuan king Shō Hashi.

The castle was destroyed during the Second World War but has been rebuilt and is now open to the public.


8. Kokusai Dori Street

Kokusai Dori Street is the main shopping street in Naha, Okinawa. It is lined with stores selling handicrafts, souvenirs, and local products. The street is also home to many restaurants and cafes.

Kokusai Dori Street was originally built in 1958 as part of the reconstruction effort following World War II. The street was designed to be a gathering place for the people of Okinawa and to promote economic growth.

In the 1980s, Kokusai Dori Street began to attract tourists from Mainland Japan and other countries. The street became known for its lively atmosphere and wide range of shops and restaurants.

Today, Kokusai Dori Street is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Okinawa. It is a great place to shop, eat, and experience Okinawan culture.

What to Do on Kokusai Dori Street

There are plenty of things to do on Kokusai Dori Street! Here are some of the top things to do:

1. Shop for souvenirs and local products

Kokusai Dori Street is a great place to find souvenirs and gifts. There are many stores selling handicrafts, Okinawan pottery, and other local products. You can also find traditional Ryukyuan fabrics and clothing on the street.

2. Eat at local restaurants

Kokusai Dori Street is home to many restaurants and cafes. You can find everything from Okinawan cuisine to international dishes on the street. Be sure to try the famous Okinawa soba noodles!

3. Experience Okinawan culture

Kokusai Dori Street is a great place to experience the Okinawan culture. There are often live performances of traditional music and dance on the street. You can also find several museums and art galleries on the street.

4. Go shopping

In addition to souvenir shops, Kokusai Dori Street is home to many stores selling clothes, accessories, and other products. There are also several department stores on the street.

5. Take in the atmosphere

One of the best things to do on Kokusai Dori Street is simply to stroll down the street and take in the atmosphere. The street is always lively and full of people. You can watch the world go by as you enjoy the sights and sounds of Okinawa.

Kokusai Dori Street is a must-visit destination for anyone visiting Okinawa. There is something for everyone on the street, so be sure to check it out during your stay!

9. Churaumi Aquarium

Churaumi Aquarium is one of the Top Things to Do in Okinawa and is a must-see for any visitor to the island.

The aquarium is home to over 1,200 different species of fish and other sea creatures, making it one of the most diverse marine life exhibits in the world.

Highlights of the aquarium include the massive whale sharks, manta rays, and dolphins. The aquarium also has a unique coral reef exhibit that is unlike anything else in Japan.

Churaumi Aquarium was built in 2002 and is one of the largest aquariums in the world.

The name Churaumi comes from the Okinawan word for “clear waters”. The aquarium is home to over 77,000 fish and other marine life.

The main attractions are the whale sharks, manta rays, and dolphins. Visitors can also see turtles, stingrays, eels, and many other types of fish.

The Churaumi Aquarium is a must-see for anyone visiting Okinawa. It is a beautiful facility that showcases the area’s diverse marine life. Visitors will be amazed by the size and variety of fish on display.

The whale sharks are particularly impressive and are sure to be a highlight of any visit.

Churaumi Aquarium is an educational and fun experience for all ages.

10. Explore Shuri Castle

Shuri Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Okinawa’s most popular tourist attractions.

The castle was built in 1429 and served as the seat of power for the Ryukyu Kingdom until 1879, when Okinawa became part of Japan. Today, the castle is a beautiful example of traditional Ryukyuan architecture and is definitely worth visiting.

Shuri Castle is a Ryukyuan gusuku located in Shuri, Okinawa. The castle was the residence of the Ryukyuan kings from the 14th to the 19th centuries and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was bombarded and destroyed during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945 but has since been rebuilt.

Today, Shuri Castle is one of Okinawa’s most popular tourist attractions. Visitors can explore the castle grounds, including several restored buildings, and learn about the castle’s history.

11. Visit Okinawa World

Okinawa World is a theme park that showcases the culture and history of Okinawa.

Visitors can see demonstrations of traditional crafts, such as pottery and weaving, or watch performances of Okinawan music and dance.

There are also several museums on site, which provide an insight into the island’s past.

Okinawa World was founded in 1980 as a way to promote and preserve the culture of Okinawa.

It has since become one of the most popular tourist attractions on the island, attracting visitors worldwide.

The park is constantly evolving, with new exhibits and activities being added regularly.

12. Explore Yanbaru Forest

The Yanbaru Forest is a subtropical forest located in Okinawa, Japan.

It is the largest forest in Okinawa and covers an area of approximately 18,000 hectares.

The forest is home to a variety of wildlife, including birds, reptiles, mammals, and amphibians.

Yanbaru Forest is also a popular destination for hikers and campers.

Yanbaru forest has a long and rich history. The forest is believed to have been inhabited by humans for over 10,000 years.

The first recorded inhabitants of the Forest were the Ryukyuan people, who settled in the area around 3,000 years ago.

The Ryukyuan people used the forest for hunting and gathering food. They also gathered plants and medicinal herbs from the forest.

The Ryukyuan people considered the Yanbaru Forest to be a sacred place.

In the 1800s, the Ryukyuan Kingdom was annexed by Japan, and Okinawa became a prefecture of Japan.

During this time, the Japanese government began to exploit the forests of Okinawa for timber. This led to deforestation and the loss of biodiversity in the area.

In the late 20th century, the Japanese government began to focus on the conservation of the forests of Okinawa.

In 2000, Yanbaru Forest was designated as a National Park. Since then, efforts have been made to restore the forest and its wildlife.

Flora and Fauna of Yanbaru Forest

Yanbaru forest is home to a variety of plant and animal life. The forest is dominated by subtropical evergreen trees, such as hinoki cypress, camphor tree, and Okinawan stilt grass. There are also many palms, ferns, and other plants in the forest.

The wildlife of Yanbaru Forest includes Ryukyu squirrels, Japanese deer, wild boar, Ryukyu hare, and Okinawa woodpeckers. The Forest is also home to many reptiles, such as lizards and snakes.

Top Things to Do in Yanbaru forest

There are many things to do in Yanbaru Forest. Hiking is a popular activity in the forest. There are several hiking trails of varying difficulty levels. Camping is also allowed in certain areas of the forest.

Birdwatching is another popular activity in Yanbaru Forest. The Forest is home to many different species of birds, including the endangered Okinawa woodpecker.

Visitors can also learn about the history and culture of the Ryukyuan people at the theYanbaru Folk Village. The village is located within the forest and features traditional Ryukyuan houses and handicrafts.

How to Get to Yanbaru Forest

Yanbaru Forest is located in the northern part of Okinawa Island. The easiest way to get to the forest is by car. Visitors can also take bus number 102 from Nago City. The journey takes approximately one hour.

13. Take a walk through Nago Pineapple Park

Nago Pineapple Park is a great place to take a walk and learn about the history of pineapple production on Okinawa.

The park has over 200 varieties of pineapple, as well as a museum, restaurant, and gift shop. Admission is free, making it a great option for budget-minded travelers.

If you’re looking to get active, there are plenty of things to do in Nago Pineapple Park. In addition to walking around the grounds, you can also rent bicycles or go for a swim in the pool.

There are also several hiking trails in the area, so you can explore the nature of Okinawa.

No matter what your interests are, Nago Pineapple Park is a great place to spend a day.

14. Visit Nakijin Castle

Nakijin Castle is a Ryukyuan gusuku located on Nakijin Island in northern Okinawa.

The castle was built in the 14th century and served as the residence of the Ryukyuan kings.

It was partially destroyed in 1609 during the Siege of Nakijin but has since been restored.

Nakijin Castle is now a popular tourist destination, known for its stunning views of the East China Sea and its beautiful gardens.

Visitors can also explore the castle’s several buildings, including a museum with exhibits on the castle’s history.

15. Visit Okinawa’s Famous Beaches

No trip to Okinawa would be complete without spending some time at the beach.

The island has many different beaches to choose from, each with its own unique atmosphere.

Popular beaches include Nakijin Beach, which has dramatic cliffs and crystal-clear waters, and Kouri Island, which is known for its beautiful coral reefs.

16. Try Okinawa’s Delicious Cuisine

Okinawan food is a delicious mix of Japanese, Chinese, and Southeast Asian influences.

One of the most popular dishes is Okinawan soba, a type of noodle made from wheat flour and sweet potato starch.

Other popular dishes include tempura (fried seafood or vegetables), sashimi (raw fish), and goya champuru (stir-fried bitter melon).

17. Experience an Okinawan Onsen

One of the top things to do in Okinawa is soak in an onsen, or hot spring. There are many public and private onsens around the island, each with their own unique setting and benefits. The hot springs are said to have healing properties, and spending time in one is a relaxing way to spend an afternoon or evening.

There are many popular onsens, or hot springs, in Okinawa. Visitors can enjoy the hot springs at various resorts and hotels across the island.

One of the most popular onsens is the Okinawa Grand Mer Resort, which is located in Nago.

The resort features several outdoor hot springs, as well as an indoor pool and spa.

Other popular onsens include the Okinawa World Health Club, which is located in Okinawa City, and the Ryukyu Onsen Sanpinrotei, which is located in Yomitan.

When visiting an onsen, it is important to remember to remove all clothing before entering the water.

Most onsens will provide guests with a small towel to use for modesty. It is also important to shower before entering the hot spring, as this will help keep the water clean.

Thoughts and Conclusion

Okinawa has something for everyone, whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach vacation or an action-packed adventure. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip today.

You can also check out some of the top places to visit in Japan and places to top things to visit in Tokyo.

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