The Hawaii of Japan… Where I just spent my 30th birthday last November – my big Three-O. Leo had planned this short getaway to the little island paradise to celebrate the welcoming of my new decade. If you love slow living and beaches, you will not be disappointed.
When is it a good time to visit?
Okinawa generally has four seasons, with the coldest going down to 10°C. The best time for most people would be during Spring (March – April) or Fall (October – November), when the humidity is low and temperature is mild. Coming from a tropical country, I personally prefer it a little colder, so November works great for me.
Getting around Okinawa is easier with a car, you can rent it from Times Car Rental. Note that you would need an international driving permit. If you come from Malaysia, like me, you can just get one made quickly from JPJ for just RM150 per year before your trip.
When you arrive at the airport, there’ll be a guy near the exit carrying a sign, you just have to check your name, proceed to the waiting point and hop-on the Times Car Rental shuttle bus. The process is really easy! Just follow the instructions provided.
Otherwise you can just easily get around with the public bus, monorail or taxi service. They have day passes for both bus and monorail here.
We took a really early flight, and won’t be able to check in until 3pm. Since there was still some time to kill, we decided to explore Naha City.
Let the snack hunt begin. Priorities people! I need to pack in my snacks first to see how much more space I have left for shopping. Are you like me too?
The Ultimate Must-Try Snacks from Okinawa
- Beni-imo Tart
- Okinawa Salt Cookies
- Santa Andagi (Fried Brown Sugar Donut) at Ryukyu Sweets Shop
- Sweet Potato Soft Serve
- Salt Ice Cream at Yokisio Salt Ice Cream
- Beni-imo and Vanilla Soft Serve at Blueseal
You can get most of these from Okashi Goten (1-2-5 Matsuo,Naha city,Okinawa 900-0014), 3 minutes walk from Kencho-mae monorail station.
Best Baumkuchen in Okinawa
Head down to Fukugiya for some free samples! I guarantee that you will buy at least 1 of these beautifully made cakes. Confidence is when they display the baking process in their window.
3-29-67 Kumoji, Naha-shi
The smell is so amazing, you could already take a whiff before going in. They have a wide array of flavours, my favourites being brown sugar, purple yam and honey. These cakes are packed so nicely that you can just bring it back with you to your home country easily!
From there, we drove to our lovely little Airbnb, which is about 45 minutes away from the airport. We thought it would be a good base for us as a half way point to visit attractions.
I heard that one has not really been to Okinawa without trying their traditional soba. Of course we had to stop for a bowl! And Hamaya was just along the way. It is a cute quaint little soba house situation just by the ocean. You order it through a vending machine and pick-up from the counter.
2-99 Miyagi, Chatan-cho, Nakagami-gun 904-0113, Okinawa Prefecture
+81 98-936-5929 Opens 10:30 – 20:00
Just look at that pork. It practically melted off my chopsticks. I was really pleasantly surprise. How can something so simple be so tasty! I literally was wolfing it down. If I could, I would definitely go for a second bowl. I like the chewy noodles, but it is up to you to decide. There’s self-serve buckwheat tea to wash this down just on the side next to the cashier. Don’t miss out on this! It is really really really good.
The Best Sights to Visit
- Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium
- Nakijin Castle Ruins
- Cape Manzamo
- Cape Hedo
- Kafu Banta
- Katsuren Castle Ruins
- Gangala Valley
- Gyukusendo Cave
Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium has an amazing exhibition of marine life, starring the three giant beautiful Whale Sharks and a couple of Manta Rays. It took us about an hour and a half to get there. Coming here has taught me to love and appreciate our oceans more. These large magnificent creatures sacrificed their freedom to teach us the importance how conservation efforts impact our ecosystems.
Admissions: Adults: ¥1,880, Children: Free
Open 8:30am – 4:00pm
Cape Hedo is the northernmost point on Okinawa island! From here you can watch two oceans merge – the South China sea on your west and the Pacific Ocean on your east. The view is just amazing. You can see crystal clear waters changing to a deep azure as the waves swirl. This is one of my favourite photo spots.
Open 24 hours
Have any of you watched Totoro? Then you would know about this leafy umbrella that he always carries, it is called Kuwazuimo – in english Alocasia odora. I had a pretty fun time in the Valley of Gangala. It is a limestone cave made hundreds of thousands of years ago. These ancient caves has a lush subtropical forest featuring a giant banyan tree estimated to be at least 150 years old! In Okinawa, they believe that the banyan tree is a sacred tree that hosts spirits.
I felt like it was such a nice change away from the city to be able to walk through giant bamboo forests and explore this fairy-like forest. Before the tour ends, you will stop by a large cavern containing a stone coffin of a 3,000 year-old Minatogawa man excavated by archaeologist in 2008.
Admissions: Adults: ¥2,500
Tour Times: 10:00am, 12:00pm, 2:00pm, 4:00pm
Reservation Required: +81-98-948-4192
Even though Okinawa is part of Japan, it is influenced a lot by China, and a little from the Americans. You can find a distinct difference from mainland Japan. Yet Okinawa has so much to offer, she is worth discovering. Her beautiful pristine beaches are undeniably breathtaking.
I hope you put her in your list of beautiful places to visit.