Welcome to a tropical paradise so beautiful and unspoilt, you will forget for a second that you’re actually in Japan.
The complete opposite of the fast and frantic pace of the big cities, Okinawa is the perfect place to escape to on holiday. Visitors love its easy going character, pristine nature, and unique culture. And it makes for a wonderful trip, at any time of year.
Okinawa is the most southern prefecture in Japan, closer to Taiwan than to mainland Japan.
With a long list of daily flights from major cities in the mainland, getting to Okinawa by flight is cheap, fast and easy. All flights arrive at Naha International Airport, in the capital city of Naha.
|Tokyo => Naha||Jetstar||¥6,384 (US$60)||Details|
|Tokyo => Naha||SAM Columbia||¥6,512 (US$61)||Details|
|Tokyo => Naha||Skymark Airlines||¥22,743 (US$212)||Details|
There are many discount offers for domestic flights due to heavy airline competition, and great offers from low-cost carriers like Peach and Jetstar Japan. For tips on flying from Tokyo to Okinawa, see our article on the topic.
Though you could travel by overnight ferry from mainland Japan, the tickets aren’t cheap, and it will take one heck of a long time.
If you’re only staying in Naha for a short trip, then getting around is a breeze. The downtown core of Naha is connected by an adorable two-car Yuirail (monorail) system, which starts from Naha Airport Station. You can visit most of the main tourist attractions in Naha via monorail.
Okinawa has got to be the only place in Japan that doesn’t use the ubiquitous Suica card. Tourists can, however, get a 1-day or 2-day pass for the monorail, which gives unlimited rides.
Because downtown Naha is the only part of Okinawa with a rail system, getting to the rest of the island will require a rent-a-car. Finding one is easy and the prices are really cheap compared to mainland Japan. Many rental companies have booths at Naha Airport, all with shuttle buses to take you to their offices to pick up your vehicle. A number of companies, like OTS, have English-friendly websites, to make booking easier.
Getting around by public bus is not particularly easy as a tourist. The central bus lines are primarily located in the Naha Bus Terminal, with some bus lines available at the airport as well. If you don’t drive, and buses are looking like your only option, check out the Bus Map Okinawa, which shows the routes and maps for how to get from Naha to the south and north of the island.
Alternatively, Okinawa Tour Bus is a great option, as it has sightseeing tour buses which go to the major attractions all over the island.
Some of the bigger hotels and resorts provide airport shuttle buses to pick you up from the airport and take you directly to the hotel. They also help to arrange ground transport to nearby sights.
If that’s not an option with your hotel, then book an airport limousine bus online to greet you at the airport and take you to your destination.
What to see and do
There’s no shortage of fun things to do on this beautiful island. Though Okinawa is small, it certainly has a lot to offer, and it’s incredible beaches are just the beginning. There are also castles, parks, caves, waterfalls, whale watching, water sports, shopping, museums, unique arts and crafts, and more. Be sure to also try some authentic local cuisine; it’s completely different from what you’ll find in mainland Japan.