Okinawa is one of the most popular destinations in Japan, by both tourists and locals. It is the southernmost prefecture of Japan, consisting of many islands. Many visit Okinawa to experience the amazing pristine beaches there, along with their unique culture and fantastic food. In this 3 part feature, we will show you some fantastic spots around the main island of Okinawa so that you can fully enjoy the best of it!
Do note that the main transport in our guide will be via car – traveling to some of the places in Okinawa is very difficult via public transport. It is highly recommended you rent a vehicle from the Naha Airport or around the main city in Okinawa prior to your adventure.
1. The amazing fruit shaved ice of Onna no Eki Nakayukuichiba farmer's market
After departing from Naha Airport, the drive to Onna no Eki Nakayukuichiba will first be through the main Okinawa city. You will then travel along the western coast of Okinawa along the Japan National Route 58 and reach the Onna Village. There are various Okinawa cuisines you can enjoy here that will make a fantastic lunch. They can also be ordered take away for you to enjoy while driving too!
One of the recommended stalls to visit is Ryu-pin. The “Tropical Fruits” Kakigori (shaved ice) has changing daily recipes, and a huge Kakigori topped with fruits such as mango, strawberry, passionfruit and pineapple will be served.
Nakayukuichiba @ Onna no Eki
Address: 1656-9 Nakadomari, Onna, Kunigami, Okinawa
Opening Hours: 10am - 7pm
Access: 1 hour drive from Naha Airport
Website: Onna no Eki Nakayukuichiba
2. The elephant shaped rock of Manzamo!
The ocean view from Onna Village is amazing, and it is thus a place filled with many resort hotels. However, you don’t necessarily need to book a high-class hotel to enjoy the fantastic view. Just 20 minutes from Onna no Eki Nakayukuichiba by car, you will be able to appreciate the gorgeous view from Manzamo. The unique geological formations along the coast come in various shapes and sizes, such as this interestingly shaped cliff that looks almost like an elephant’s nose!
Address: Onna, Kunigami District, Okinawa
Opening Hours: 24 hours
Access: 30 mins from Okinawa city center
Ganso Sea Grapes
Address: 6092-1 Onna, Kunigami District, Okinawa Prefecture 904-0411, Japan
Opening Hours: 11am - 9pm
Access: 7 mins drive from Manzamo cliff
3. Surrounded by emerald green - Kouri Island
About an hour’s drive away from Manzamo is another fantastic spot where you can appreciate the beauty of Okinawa’s ocean view. As you travel North from Manzamo, you will see an island just offshore the main island of Okinawa. Approaching closer you will notice that a long bridge connects it to the main island. This is the Kouri Island, connected to the Okinawa main island by a 1,960 meter (2,143 yard) long bridge – the second longest bridge in the whole of Japan! Driving along the bridge is an amazing experience, with beautiful emerald-green ocean on both sides.
Over at Kouri Island, you can enjoy the unique scenery of sugarcane fields and beautiful ocean, which will definitely offer you lots of fantastic photo opportunities!
Address: Nakijin, Kunigami District, Okinawa
Opening Hours: 24 hours
Access: 1 hour drive from Manzamo
Website: Kouri Island
4. Explore the wonders of Ryukyu Kingdom - Nakijin Castle Remains
20 minute’s away from Kouri Island is the Nakijin Castle Remains. Okinawa used to be a kingdom by itself called the Ryukyu Kingdom, and the Nakijin Castle was built around the 13th-century. The castle remains is today registered as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu”.
Here, not only will you be able to learn about the history of Ryukyu Kingdom, you will also be able to explore the design of how the castle used to be in the past. A great view of the ocean as well as the temperate rainforest can also be enjoyed there.
Nakijin Castle Remains
Address: 5101 Imadomari, Nakijin, Kunigami, Okinawa
Opening Hours: Heritage center is open from 8:30am - 5pm
Access: 40 mins drive from Kouri island
Website: Nakijin Castle Remains
Hotel Orion Motobu Resort & Spa was opened in 2014 and is conveniently located beside one of the most popular destinations in Okinawa – the Churaumi Aquarium. This fantastic resort is known for its high class facilities and services – some of the facilities available include swimming pools, a spa, as well as gardens and even a natural hot spring onsen! There are 2 buildings in Hotel Orion Motobu Resort & Spa: the Club Wing and Ocean Wing. A great ocean view can also be enjoyed from some of the rooms. Those who stay in the Club Wing can even experience great room service such as breakfast room service to avoid traveling to the buffet hall which might be crowded in the morning.
Hotel Orion Motobu Resort & Spa
Address: 148-1 Bise, Motobu, Okinawa (see map)
Price: from 290 USD
Perfect end to day 1!
Okinawa is certainly a fantastic place, and having a vehicle allows you to explore the various less-known sites around the island. Click here to view a recommended itinerary for day 2!
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