This is the last part of the 3 part feature on the ultimate Okinawa guide. Day 3’s emphasis will be on the various cultural, spiritual and historical spots that you can view in Okinawa.
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. Learn about the Ryukyu Kingdom at Shuri Castle!
Found within the Shurijo Castle Park, just 15 minutes from the Okinawa Monorail Shuri Station in Naha city, Shuri Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that best represents Okinawa’s history. Okinawa used to be a kingdom on its own called the Ryukyu Kingdom before becoming part of Japan, and it had a culture and political system influenced by Japan, Korea, and China. Shuri Castle is said to have been built around the years 1527 to 1555, and it is now a museum that displays various artifacts from ancient Okinawa. The architecture found there is also stunning, with intricate designs and vibrant colors that will surely enchant you.
1 hour + drive from Kafuu Resort Fuchaku Condo Hotel.
Address: 1-2 Shurikinjocho, Naha, Okinawa
Opening Hours: 8:00am - 4:30pm (closed on 1st Wednesday and Thursday of July every year)
Access: 30 minute drive from Naha Airport/50 minutes via Yui Rail from Naha Airport
Website: Shuri Castle
2. The island south of Okinawa - Ojima Island
After leaving Shuri Castle, drive for about 40 minutes and you will be able to access Ojima Island – an offshore island connected to the Okinawa main island by a short 150 meter (164 yard) bridge. Ojima Island is a pretty small place, and it will only take about 10 minutes to drive around the whole island. This island, however, is known to be one of the main places people set off from when going for a diving trip.
The most attractive part of Ojima Island is the Ojima Island Imaiyu Market. Imaiyu means “fresh fish” in the Okinawa dialect, and sure enough, you will be able to savor a variety of fantastic fresh seafood here! It is highly recommended that you try the Kaisen-don (rice with fresh seafood). High quality seafood can be enjoyed at reasonable prices here and it is definitely worth visiting this island just for lunch!
Ojima Island Imaiyu Market
Address: Ou-19-9 Tamagusuku, Nanjō-shi, Okinawa
Opening Hours: 9am - 6pm
Access: 40 minute drive from Shuri Castle or 40 minutes from Naha Airport
3. The power spot Sefa-utaki
Sefa-utaki is a 20 minute drive away from Ojima Island. Surrounded by greenery, this spot is known to be a holy spot amongst the people of Okinawa since ancient times and is today known as a power spot. In fact, Sefa-utaki is also part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu”.
The forests at Sefa-utaki used to be out of bounds except for women from the kingdom, but it is today open to the public. Once you enter the deeper area of the forest, you will be greeted by these 2 huge rocks called the Sanguui. After walking through this tunnel, a small space is located behind the rocks which is said to be a sacred place.
Address: Kudeken, Chinen, Nanjo, Okinawa
Opening Hours: 9am – 6pm
Access: 20 minute drive from Oujima or 48 minute drive from Naha Airport
4. Beautiful architecture of Niraikanai Bridge
Niraikanai Bridge is a 6 minute drive away from Sefa-utaki. While this place might not encompass the cultural or natural aspect of Okinawa, it certainly shows how beautiful architecture and engineering can be incorporated to harmonize with the fantastic nature of the land. The Niraikanai Bridge is part of the National Route 86, and is a fantastic spot which offers great photo opportunities. One of the best places to view this bridge is from the top of the tunnel that leads to the bridge. Here, you will be able to get a panoramic view of the whole bridge, the greenery, and the marvelous sea that surrounds Okinawa.
Address: Chinen, Nanjo, Okinawa
Access: 5 minute drive from Sefa-utaki or 45 minute drive from Naha Airport
5. The most amazing cafe ever - Cave Cafe
Who would ever have imagined creating a cafe inside a cave? Cave Cafe is about 20 minutes from Nirakanai Bridge by car. Built in a natural cave, the Cave Cafe is extremely cooling even during the hottest seasons. Fantastic original coffee can be enjoyed here, and you will be able to admire the beauty of naturally created limestone formations. Furthermore, Cave Cafe is also the entrance to Gangala no Tani, a valley that you can only enter through a trekking tour. You will be able to witness the marvelous temperate rainforest of Okinawa here. The walk is about 1 hour and 20 minutes but it is rather casual, and it is highly recommended that you register for one of them if you have the time!
Cave Cafe at the Valley of Gangala
Address: 202 Tamagusuku Maekawa, Nanjo, Okinawa
Opening Hours: 10am - 6pm
Access: 18 minute drive from Niraikanai Bridge or 30 minute drive from Naha Airport
Website: Cave Cafe
6. The kitchen of Okinawa - First Makishi Public Market
First Makishi Public Market is about 40 minutes from Cave Cafe by car. It is the nearest market from the main street of Okinawa, the Kokusai Dori. Here, the first floor serves as a market where fresh seafood and local fruits and vegetables can be purchased. The second floor of the market is where various Okinawa restaurants are located.
It is highly recommended that you visit the First Makishi Public Market, be it at the start or the end of your trip. This place will certainly make your Okinawa trip worthwhile!
First Makishi Public Market
Address: 2-10-10-1 Matsuo, Naha, Okinawa
Opening Hours: 9am - 8pm
Access: Over 40 minute drive from Cave Cafe or 20 minute drive from Naha Airport/30 minutes via Yui Rail from Naha Airport
Website: First Makishi Public Market
Don't forget that this is only the main island!
The 3 day guide allows you to enjoy the various famous spots within the main island—there certainly are a lot more to see! Also, don’t forget that Okinawa is a prefecture that consists of many islands, so make sure you come back again to explore the other places in Okinawa too!
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