Okinawa has a lot of caves, but none as big or as impressive as the caves at Okinawa World.
Located in Nanjo, at the southern part of the island, Okinawa World is a unique theme park, built around the Gyokusendo Caves. In addition to exploring the vast caves, the theme park is a great place to experience Okinawa’s culture, see traditional Eisa dance performances, and try your hand at the local arts and crafts.
This incredible natural monument is a limestone cave which has grown on top of a coral reef. It is estimated to be some 300,000 years old. As you climb down the steps into the caves, you’ll feel a chill at the cool underground temperature. Water still runs through the caves, and trickles down the stalactites that are actually getting bigger year by year. Note that the caves are not wheelchair or stroller accessible, and you should wear good shoes to descend the steps.
The Craft Village
After exploring the caves, stroll through the red-roofed Craft Village to try making some local arts and crafts. There’s a bingata art studio, an indigo dye studio, weaving and paper making displays, shisa decorating and painting, and Ryukyu style kiminos to wear. However, one of the most popular activities is the glass blowing, where you can make your own beautiful Ryukyu glass to take home.
Okinawa’s Eisa dance is an important part of their living heritage. Traditionally performed during Obon, visitors can watch Eisa dancing and drumming daily at the Eisa Plaza of Okinawa World. There are also shishimai lion dances.Show times are 10:30am, 12:30pm, 2:30pm, and 4:00pm, and take about 20 minutes.
The most venemous snake in Okinawa is called habu in the local language. The Habu Park at Okinawa World has a museum, with a snake and reptile exhibit, plus other animals found on island, like the giant coconut crab. There is an additional fee for the Habu Park.
Other Park Attractions
The Culture Centre: This small museum showcases the unique culture of the Kingdom of the Ryukyus, and the history of these islands
Nanto Brewery: Try the local Okinawa beer brewed on-site at the Nanto Brewery; or, if you’re really brave, sample habu liquor, or a habu highball!
Tropical Orchards: Stroll through the orchard area to see a variety of local tropical fruits, like pineapple, mango, and papaya, plus gorgeous island flowers
Shopping Centre: Pick up some souvenirs from Okinawa World, like tiny shisa to take home, chinsuko cookies, mango cake, black sugar
If you’re coming from Naha, it takes about 30 minutes by car.
Alternatively, if you don’t drive, there is one public bus which goes to Okinawa World. From the main Naha Bus Terminal next to Asahibashi Station, take Bus #54 (Maekawa line) or #83 (Gyokusendo line), and get off at Gyokusendo-mae bus stop.
How to Buy Tickets
Has wheelchair accessible toilets