Okinawa Guide

Okinawa Guide

Pic: J Lippold used under CC

Highlights:

Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, Shuri Castle, Great Tug-of-War

Okinawa is located on one of the island chain, in between mainland Japan and Taiwan. It is known for its subtropical/tropical climate, clear seas, and being the origin of Karate (Mr. Miyagi in Karate Kid came from Okinawa).

Getting There

Airplanes and ferries are the only ways to get to Okinawa and other parts of the island. The capital city Naha in Okinawa-honto, contains all terminals of the airports and ferries. Therefore flights to Okinawa arrive at the Naha Airport. There are several ports throughout Naha (Naha Port, Naha Tomari Port and Naha New Port) and Okinawa main island for the ferries to dock at.

RouteAirlineOne-way FareBooking
Tokyo => Naha Vanilla Air ¥6,829 (US$63) Details
Tokyo => Naha Jetstar Japan ¥7,649 (US$71) Details
Tokyo => Naha ANA (All Nippon Airways) ¥9,049 (US$83) Details
Tokyo => Naha Japan Airlines ¥9,160 (US$84) Details
Tokyo => Naha Skymark Airlines ¥11,698 (US$108) Details

There are many discount offers for domestic flights due to heavy airline competitions. Discounted priced plane tickets can go up to 13,000 yen a one-way trip to Okinawa-honda. “Experience Japan Fare” is an ANA package that allows you to travel anywhere within Japan for 10,800 yen. However you have to hold a foreign passport, reside outside of Japan, hold an international ticket to and from Japan, and reserve tickets online three days in advance. ANA also offers per person flight packages, which is inclusive of tickets for a round-trip, and two nights of hotel stay. Prices range from 37,800 yen to 40,500 yen; check available months for this package on their website.

Traveling by ferry between Okinawa and various places on mainland Japan won’t save you much, as the cheapest tickets cost 22,000 yen one-way. By ferry, it takes around 43 hours to travel between Okinawa and Osaka. These ferries are operated by a company called A-Line.

For international flights, those travelling from other continents other than Asia, can find the tickets pricey.

Between Naha and Kagoshima, daily ferry rides arrives at the Motobu Port, and the Motobu Peninsula along the way. The ferry can also be used to travel between Naha and the Motobu Peninsula, in two hours for around 2,400 yen. The ferries depart from Naha Port, which is near the Naha Bus Terminal, and Asahibashi Station. The ferry prices for foreign tourists wanting to travel to Okinawa without going through mainland Japan, are considerably cheaper than international plane tickets. Ranging from 15,600 yen to 29,000 yen, Arimura Sangyo provides ferry service between Taiwan and Okinawa, making stops at Ishigaki Island, Miyako Island, or at both.

Getting Around

A rental car is recommended in Naha and central Okinawa. For sightseeing outside of Naha, a rental car (which can be rented at Naha Airport or in major cities) is more convenient. However there can be heavy traffic especially during mornings, evening rush hours or weekdays. Okinawa Expressway provides transportation from Naha, in the south part of Okinawa, all the way to the northern city of Nago, covering 57.3 kilometers of road. From one end to the other, the one-way fee costs 1000 yen.

In Okinawa’s main island (Honto), buses excluding the Okinawa Monorail in central Naha is the main means of transport. The central bus lines is primarily located in the Naha Bus Terminal, with some bus lines available at the airport as well. Unfortunately, there are numerous bus networks, therefore it is more complicated getting around, and services of some buses are irregular.

Where to go and what to do

Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium is famous for its exotic sea creatures, and being one of the largest aquariums in the world. It is home to the first births of captured manta rays, large scale coral exhibits, a whale shark breeding tank and more. The aquarium also provides dolphin shows, guided tours and daily lectures. We recommend going after 4 pm because that is when the tickets are cheapest – 1290 yen a pop for adults, 860 yen for students, and free entry for 6 years old and below.

Kokusai Dori or, “International Street”, is a 1.6 kilometre strip of road starting from the Okinawa Prefecture Office, to downtown Naha. Packed with shops selling souvenirs, local delicacies, and even department stores and hotels along the road, this is one of the larger tourist attraction in Naha.

Another thing to do in Okinawa is to visit its beaches. At the Okinawa Ocean Expo Park, it homes many public beaches, such as Emerald Beach. This beach features a shallow lagoon,ideal for the little ones. If you like to see the sunset or hold barbecues, check at Sunset Beach, which is just next to the Mihama American Village. Also the Churaumi Aquarium is of walking distance from Emerald Beach. From Okinawa Expressway Minami by car via the highway it takes around 25 minutes. The parking space is free, and since renting cars is the better option for transportation in Okinawa, I suggest you drive there. Bonus? There is also a lot a shopping, restaurants, and entertainment nearby.


List of places in Okinawa

Articles about Okinawa


Events in Okinawa

Entertainment in Okinawa

Recommended hotels near Okinawa

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