Top 10 Things You Must Do in Okinawa

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Top 10 Things You Must Do in Okinawa

Okinawa - Experience Asia's very own Hawaii

Okinawa means “rope in the open sea”, a fairly apt description of this long stretch of islands (>150 islands) in the East China Sea between Japan and Taiwan, with total land area of 2,271km2. An island surrounded by beautiful ocean. It's known for its tropical climate, broad beaches and coral reefs, as well as World War II sites. Okinawa is a prominent Japanese resort area, blessed with a warm climate throughout the year. There are many beautiful, world-renowned beaches on Okinawa's islands. In 2017, Okinawa overtook Hawaii in terms of tourist numbers, according to the Okinawa Prefectural Government data released recently.  

Here are the Top 10 reasons why people love Okinawa:

  • The sea, beaches and sunsets are absolutely gorgeous!
  • Sea life - one of the largest aquariums in the world - Churaumi Aquarium!
  • Perfect climate - Okinawa is warm even during winter!
  • Okinawa is peaceful and relaxed!
  • Fun water sports - snorkelling, diving, parasailing, surfing, paddleboarding...
  • Local food is on another level - super yummy & reasonable + eye-opening fish markets
  • Okinawan is one of the longest-living people in the world
  • The locals are friendly and laid-back
  • Okinawa is nowhere as expensive as you think
  • Has many beautiful nature areas, forests and waterfalls and ocean activities and many more…

Weather tips:

Okinawa enters the peak of summer in July. The average temperature is 27oC-29°C/80.6oF-84.2°F, but goes up as high as 32°C/89.6°F. There's not much rain, so you'll be able to enjoy summer as if you were in a tropical island in the south. That's why there are many tourists in town at this time, and it can get crowded in some places. Prepare sunglasses, a great summer hat to keep you cool and also sunscreen to protect your skin and most importantly don’t’ forget to pack your beach wear before you hit the beach!

Transportation tips:

Monorail in Okinawa

Trains are not easily available in Okinawa. There is monorail but it only goes around Naha city. The monorail (Yu Rail) travels through Naha City, starts at Naha Airport Station, and goes all the way to Shuri Station, the last stop, which is 13km in length and has a total of 15 stations; it travels to many sightseeing spots such as Kokusai Shopping Street. One-way monorail ticket price from the airport to Naha city (approx. 15 mins) is 260yen / USD2.30.

We would recommend renting a car (approx USD40 onwards per day, excl. insurance, for a 1,000 cc car, fuel charges: approx USD1.50/litre) to move around and enjoy driving under the beautiful blue sky of the islands. The main island extends approx.. 110km from North to South and 10km from East to West. Bear in mind of the speed limit which is between 30km/hr up to 80km/hr. So more often you are going to be driving at a slow pace and should not expect to get anywhere fast. Just relax and enjoy the beautiful blue sky and stunning beach coastal road.

Top 10 Must Visit Places in Okinawa

Top 10 Places to Visit in Okinawa
  1. Shuri Castle
    In 1429-1879, Shuri Castle was the palace of the Ryukyu Kingdom, served as the proud and dignified center of Ryukyu Kingdom and its politics, foreign affairs and culture, and invented the martial art - karate. Shuri Castle was designated as UNESCO World Heritage Site in December 2000. It only takes 10 mins walk from the Shuri monorail station.
    Entrance Fee: 820 Yen / ~USD 7.40 per person
    Operating hours: 8am – 8.30pm
    Map code: 33161526*71

  2. Naha City
    Naha is the capital of Okinawa Prefecture, associated with traditional ceramics like Shisa (lion-dog figures). Lined with shops, bars and restaurants, Kokusai-dori is Naha's main street. It is located just 5.7km away from the Naha Airport. Home to more than 300,000 people, Naha is the capital and largest city of Okinawa. Among the major attractions in Naha City are Kokusai Street, Shuri Castle and its vicinity, and the Shintoshin district with large shopping malls and a variety of restaurants.

  3. Senagajima Umikaji Terrace (little Greece)
    Senagajima Umikaji Terrace is located on Senaga Island, the nearest island to Naha airport. Free shuttle bus is available from Akamine monorail station and Umikaji Hotel. This new tourist destination opened in the summer of 2015. It has over 30 shops, restaurants, cafes and boutiques, hot spring @ Umikaji Hotel and more under construction. The buildings, sidewalks and stairs are built in blue and white colours, modelled after a Greek village. Just chill and relax here and enjoy stunning sea views and watching the planes take off and land! If you are lucky, you can also see fighter jets taking off at Naha Airport!
    Operating hours: 10am – 9pm


  4. American Village, Chatan
    The American Village is a large entertainment complex located in central Okinawa, about 15km North of Naha. Many American military bases are located here. It resembles a big American outdoor shopping mall with lots of shops, restaurants, cafes and a large parking lot.  The most recognisable feature of the American Village is the large Ferris Wheel. The Americana theme is found at many establishments, such as fashion shops selling American brand clothing or restaurants specialising in hot dogs and hamburgers. Just a few steps away along the waterfront is Sunset Beach. Facing westward, the beach is a good place to catch the sunset and is a popular spot for barbecues.
    Map code: 33525598*63

  5. Manzamo Cape
    In the 18th century, when Okinawa was still ruled by the Ryukyu Kingdom, the Ryukyu King visited this place, and he was shocked because this place is so flat and spacious! More than 10,000 people can sit on top of this cape and enjoy the sea views together, hence it was named Manzamo!

    Manzamo Cape is a scenic rock formation on Okinawa Island. It is located near Onna Village. Cape Manzamo is one of the most popular places among both Japanese and international travellers who visit Okinawa Island.  This area is famous for its limestone landscape and it is surrounded by many high-class resorts and restaurants. Just opposite to Cape Manzamo, you can find the famous ANA InterContinental Manza Beach Resort.
    Map code: 206282850*43

  6. Busena Marine Park
    The only underwater observatory tower in Okinawa island. It is located 170 meters away from the shore near Busena Cape. This underwater observatory tower allows you to view 360 degrees of coral reef with all the colorful coral fish swimming around. The natural under-water world can be seen from the windows 5 meters down in the water. Playful whale shaped glass bottom boat is also available and it will be a great experience for kids!
    Map code: 206442076*60
    Operating hours: 8.30am – 7.30pm
    Underwater Observatory tower: Adult 1,030 yen / ~USD9.25; Children 520 yen / ~USD4.70
    Glass bottom boat: Adult 1,540 yen / ~USD13.80; Children: 770 yen / ~USD7
    Combination ticket: Adult 2,060 yen / ~USD18.50; Children: 1,030 yen / ~USD9.20

  7. Churaumi Aquarium Okinawa @ Ocean Export Park
    Ocean Expo Park has many attractions including the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, one of the largest aquariums in the world – the home to whale sharks and manta rays, the Tropical Dream Center, the Native Okinawan Village & Omoro Arboretum, Emerald Beach, Okichan Dolphin Theatre , etc.
    Operating hours: 8.30am-7pm
    Tickets: Adult 1850 yen / ~USD16.60; Children below 6 is free
    Map code: 553075797*77

  8. Cape Chinen
    Cape Chinen, a well-known beauty spot in Okinawa located just a 40 to 50-minute drive from Naha airport. When exploring the southern part of the main island, this is an area that visitors will not want to miss. Chinen Cape Park is a quiet place located on a hill, perfect for relaxing and whiling away the time. From here, visitors can overlook the sea of the emerald green, and it is also a famous spot for watching the morning sunrise.
    Map code: 232594503*30

             9. Stunning Beaches

Best Beaches in Okinawa

9a) Zanpa Beach
Near Onna Village, this is a beach famous for its sunset located by Zampamisaki. This beach is surrounded by the largest coral reef in the prefecture and because of this, the waves are calm, making it the perfect environment for small children to enjoy.
Map code: 1005656693*33

9b) Emerald Beach @ Ocean Expo Park
This beach’s cobalt blue ocean was given an AA ranking (the highest rank). This beach was chosen as one of the “Best Beach 100” of Japan by the Ministry of the Environment as a result of this beach’s exceptional beauty and safety.
Mape code: 553075797*77

9c) Sesoko Beach
This is an 800-meter-long natural sand beach with shallow, crystal-clear water, located on Sesoko Island - a small island connected to Okinawa’s main island by a bridge. About 500 meters offshore lies an expanse of beautiful coral reef, which is accessible on foot at low tide.
Mape code: 20682341*56

9d) Ikei Beach
Ikei Beach is situated on one of three islands, Ikei island, connected by the Mid-Sea Road from Uruma in Okinawa main island. As you pass the red Ikei bridge, you will see a beach with beautiful and transparent water. It is a popular beach among locals. In addition to various beach activities, you can also swim all year long, since wind and waves are calm.
Map code: 199794066*15

     10. Beautiful Wedding Chapels

Best Wedding Venues in Okinawa

One of the most beautiful seas in the world, the crystal blue sky, white sandy beaches – Okinawa is the most popular resort wedding spot in Japan. With gentle sea breezes, passionate sunlight, and dazzling landscapes. More and more couples are having their wedding ceremonies on the beautiful southern island of Okinawa - the perfect environment for resort weddings and pre-wedding shooting. For example, it has lovely chapels with gorgeous ocean view, beautiful churches resembling castles, resort hotels with private beaches, and more for you to have the most romantic wedding. Here are the popular list of Chapels for weddings in Okinawa:

Arluis Suite Chapel
Capacity: 40 persons
Address: 3085-1 Aza-Yamada, Onna-son, Okinawa, Japan
(Approx. an hour drive from the Naha Airport)
http://www.arluis.com/zh-tw/area/okinawa/umi
https://www.arluis.com/

Shirono Church @ Hotel Orion Motobu Resort & Spa
148-1, Bise, Motobu-Cho, Kunigami-Gun, Okinawa 905-0207, Japan 
(Approx. 1.5 hour drive from the Naha Airport)
http://www.arluis.com/zh-tw/area/okinawa/sro

Aqua Grace Chapel
Capacity: 60 persons
Address: 675 Uza, Yomitan, Nakagami District, Okinawa , Japan
(Approx. an hour drive from the Naha Airport)
Tel: +81 098 921 6377
http://www.weddingabroad.com.hk/wedding/spot_content.jsp?sn=1004190003&mkt=en-us

Kafuu Chapel
Address: 246-1 Aza Fuchaku Shirifukuchihara Onna-son, Kunigami-gun, Okinawa, Japan
(Approx. an hour drive from the Naha Airport)
Tel: +81 098-964-7000
http://www.kafuu-wedding.com

Aqualuce Chapel @ ANA Intercontinental Manza Beach Resort
Capacity: 60 persons
Address: 2260 Serakaki, Onna-son, Kunigami-gun, Okinawa, Japan
Tel: +81 098-982-3422
(50minute drive from the Naha Airport)
https://www.watabe-wedding.com.hk/overseas_detail/okinawa/aqualuce-chapel

Coralvita Chapel @ ANA Intercontinental Manza Beach Resort
Capacity: 40 persons
Address: 2260 Serakaki, Onna-son, Kunigami-gun, Okinawa, Japan
(50minute drive from the Naha Airport)
Tel:+81 098-982-3144
https://www.watabe-wedding.com.hk/overseas_detail/okinawa/coralvita-chapel

For other chapel list in Okinawa, visit https://www.visitokinawa.jp/wedding/okinawa-chapel-list

Top 10 Must Try Local Foods in Okinawa

Top 10 Must Try Foods in Okinawa 1
Top 10 Must Try Foods in Okinawa

Top 10 Shopping Places in Okinawa

  1. Kokusai Street
    1.6-kilometer-long most famous shopping street, is lined with lots restaurants, cafes, bars, hotels, boutiques, souvenir shops, etc. Only 3-minute walk from Kencho-mae monorail station. Adjacent shopping streets include: Tsuboya Yachimun Street (numerous cafés, pottery and craft shops); Sakurazaka Street (unique bars and traditional-style drinking shops); Ukishima Street (shops and eateries frequented by young trendies; Ichigin Street (nightlife spot with many izakaya and eateries).
  2. Ryobu Shopping Mall
    Next to Kencho-Mae Monorial Station. The only big shopping mall in Kokusai area. This is a good department store where you can shop a variety of Japanese products. Must try the high-tea set and freshly baked breads and pastries @ Afternoon Tea on Level 2 and green tea set and udon noodles @ Seven-Leaf.
  3. Makishi Public Market
    Known as Naha’s kitchen @ Kokusai Street. The Makishi Public Market is a home to many great shops, selling fresh vibrantly colored fish and seafood, pork belly, dried food, vegetables, etc. You can pick your favourite fish to be cooked at eateries on the second floor for an extra fee.
  4. T Galleria Okinawa Duty Free Shops
    Next to Omoromachi monorail station. T Galleria by DFS offers an unique Okinawa duty free shopping experience amongst the widest variety of over 700 luxury brands.
  5. The Main Place Shopping Mall
    5-min walks from Omoromachi station (behind T Galleria). Naha Main Place is one of the most popular malls in Naha. Many locals like to shop here because it has almost everything. Foreign tourists can also enjoy the tax-free shopping in most shops here.
  6. Okinawa Outlet Mall Ashibinaa
    One of the must shopping destinations in Okinawa. There are more than 100 shops lined in the spacious premises. You can take the free shuttle bus from Naha Domestic Airport at arrival Hall exit 3. Bus no 95, fare: 250 yen per person, approx 30-min travelling time.
  7. Depot Island, Chatan (American Village)
    Approximately 12 km to the north from Naha. Going north on Route 58, you will soon arrive at American Village in Chatan Town. Depot Island is adjacent to a beach with beautiful sunsets, sports facilities, and a sports park. It is an American style resort town where you can enjoy shopping, dining, watching movies, and watching performances at live entertainment clubs. 
  8. AEON Naha Shopping Center
    This is a relatively big shopping center in Okinawa. It's close to Naha Airport and directly connected to Oroku monorail station so it's very convenient. There are around 80 stores like the supermarket Aeon, Uniqlo, and Best Denki, so you'll be able to find everything from daily necessities to clothes and household appliances.
  9. Heiwa Street
    Enjoy this place even on rainy days. This covered shopping arcade featuring many shops and vendors that sell local wares from local souvenirs, t-shirts, handicraft stores to local foods and unique snacks This arcade situated between Tsuboya Yachimun Street and Kokusai Street.  
  10. Okashi Goten Onna
    Okashi Goten was actually carefully constructed similarly to a temple. This place is a colorful, artful, and modern shop and there is a cafe, restaurant, and bakery here. It is a geat place to buy sourvenirs and enjoy freshly baked purple sweet potato tarts at the restaurant on level 2, overlooks the sea with a lovely view of the beach.

Highlights - Popular Souvenirs in Okinawa

Purple sweet potato tart Okinawa

Purple Sweet Potato
Okinawa’s most popular souvenirs. This purple sweet potato tart is one of the must-have souvenirs from Okinawa.

Snow Sea Salt Okinawa

Yukishio Snow Sea Salt
It has been awarded a Guinness World Record for comprising the most varieties of minerals salt (18 kinds in total). Aside from cooking salt, their top products include sea salt toothpaste, soap, body scrub, sea salt beauty spa, facial cleanser, biscuits, etc.

Handcrafted Blue Sea Okinawa Pendant

Okinawa Handmade Blue Sea Glass Jewellery
The blue of Okinawa’s ocean and sky is reflected in the handcrafted pendants and bracelets and many more accessories.

Shisa Okinawa

Shisa
Shisa is a traditional Ryukyuan cultural artefact and decoration derived from Chinese guardian lions, often seen in similar pairs, resembling a cross between a lion and a dog, from Okinawan mythology. In Okinawa, you can see a pair of shisa sitting at a gate, outside of an entrance, or sometimes on a roof. They are ever vigilant protectors of Okinawa.

Handcrafted Glass Okinawa

Ryukyu Glass
Ryukyu glass is an art of glass that requires proficient skills to make and also symbolises Okinawan history. It come in various colours. Making your own piece of art of glass would be a great experience as there will be nothing the same as the one you will make in the world.

Kariyushi aloha shirt Okinawa

Kariyushi Shirt
Kariyushi is a style of attire originating in Okinawa. Similar to an aloha shirt, they are mainly worn in summer. The shirts are printed, mostly short-sleeved, and collared. Kariyushi shirts may be worn as casual, informal wear, or even for work.

My Top 10 Makeup Kit for Summer Holiday in Okinawa

Before heading to Okinawa, remember to pack your summer’s essential kit to keep your skin healthy while you travel! Here are my ‘must-haves’ travel beauty kit that I can’t live without 🙂 

1) Mageline Clear Sunblock Lotion SPF30/PA+++ Radiation Proof
Radiation proof, light and breathable. It helps moderate dull complexion, reduce pigmentation, keep skin hydrated, can use it as a primer, and also form a barrier against free radicals, harmful uv rays, and pollution. Water and sweat proof to provide long-lasting protection. Suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin and safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding. Price: US$56.00

2) Mageline Light Flawless Cushion BB Cream
A brand-new cushion-style BB cream with skin benefits -- this innovative lightweight hydrating cushion BB cream contains fermented yeast extract, hydrolyzed collagen and French Rose Flower extract -- is designed to brighten, moisturise and protect your face from the daily grind. Its lightweight formula delivers impressive coverage to conceal your blemishes, while simultaneously hydrating your skin, soothing irritation and shielding you from UV rays. And its water-resistant properties help it to stay put all day, whether you’re sweating down the gym or dashing home from work in the rain! Suitable for all skin types, safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding. US$45

3) Mageline Light & Translucent Loose Powder
Keep your makeup in place with this lightweight translucent powder. This soft and smooth, delicate powder makes the skin extremely comfortable. Delivers a soft focus modification of the skin,  minimizes the appearance of large pores, softens skin, and absorbs excess oil. Provides a natural luster and long-lasting oil control. The perfect setting powder!  US$30

4) Mageline 3-in-1 Sculpturing Eye Brow Pencil
This versatile 3-in-1 Sculpturing Eye Brow Pencil includes everything you need to build exquisite arches. A retractable pencil, powder, and brush, available in 2 colours. Achieve eye brows that are as natural-looking or bold as you desire by applying these essentials alone or together. Simply outline with the pencil and fill in with the powder. Complete the look by brushing your brows for a natural 3-D eye brows. US$18

5) Mageline 5-Tone Eye Shadow Palette
When you’re traveling but still want to look glam, you need a palette that does it all. If you are looking for an eye shadow palette for a natural eye makeup look, Mageline 5-Tone Eye Shadow Palette is it.  Each shade is ultra-pigmented, glide on easily, long-wearing formulas, blendable and smooth application. It features 5 matte, shimmer, and satin shades — a modern classic in the making and one we reach for again and again. Travel-friendly and take up the least amount of space in your carry-on with a wide variety of shades. The Natural Brown Palette is a must-have item for all beginners including Pro, and it also can be used as eyebrow filler/powder. Mix and match up to 5 tones, to create a multi-dimensional look for different occasions. Delicate & Luxurious, smooth and easy to apply, lustrious and long-lasting. US$30.00

6) Mageline Waterproof Gel Pen Eye Liner
New to makeup? Can’t nail the perfect cat eye? This water-resistant, creamy, pigmented formula is easy to work with (it doesn't skip or tug), and comes with a built-in blender to help create smoky or smudged looks, fast! Line or blend the silky-smooth tip across your lids, wait a 15 seconds, and marvel at its clean, matte finish that genuinely stays put all day. Easy to draw on, and lightweight enough that you can build it up for ultra-dramatic, geographic lines. US$22

7) Mageline Sparkline Eye Dual-Ended Mascara
Lengthening, volumizing, clump-free, waterproof, and flake-free. Separating lashes and creating a subtle look. Everyone loved the thicker formula, which made lashes more defined and enhanced. Runs on smoothly, added lots of volume, and lengthened without flaking or smudging all day long. Even folks with the most sensitive eyes can wear this mascara all day long. So easy to use, and no clumping in sight. US$36

8) Mageline Moisturizing Blusher 
Luscious and vivid powder blusher - each blusher comes with 4 colours. Either use a single tone colour or mix colours to achieve a healthy looking blush. Helps skin feel moist and long lasting. Perfect finely-milled, high-pigmented formula that melts into the skin for a pretty natural finish and create a romantic flush that’s perfect for an understated, natural and glowing look.  US$28

9) Mageline Hydra Colour Change Lip Balm 
This new, natural and high quality colour-changing lip balms give your lips a long lasting luscious colour and keep your lips soft. Lip-hugging colours that always look more natural and gorgeous than any lipstick ever can. Long lasting moisture, hydrates dry lips, softens, repairs and soothes lips.  Moisturizing lip balms made from natural ingredients, no mineral oil, lead and mercury, non-toxic. Natural lip balms safe for day and night use. Apply at night to repair and soothe dry lips. US$27 (available in 3 colours)

10) Mageline Pure Colour Admiring Lipstick 
Flower and essential oil-infused - Satin, All Day Colour, Hydrates your lips! Naturally bold, rich with lasting , colour true wear! This new Mageline Pure Colour Admiring Lipstick has a silky feel, lasts all day and doesn’t clot or dry the lips out like many other lipsticks. The colour seems to saturate with one stroke, and helps seal in hydration, giving you sensuous-looking lips. It lasts well, doesn't dry out the lips, with only one quick touch needed at the very end of the day. Ideal for anyone with a busy work schedule. No mineral oil, lead and mercury, non-toxic. US$30 (available in 7 attractive colours) 

Recommended Skin Rescue Kit

Mageline Magic Beauty Brightening Facial Mask

Mageline Magic Beauty Brightening Mask (10pcs)
Deep replenishment of moisture and collagen, brighten skin tone, dilutes acne marks, promotes smooth and silky skin. Its unique cooling sensation - effectively calms and relieves sun damaged skin. It helps exfoliate, clear pores, dry blemishes, and reduce the appearance of redness. Ideal as an all-over mask to treat blemishes and congestion. Repairs skin and suitable for after sun care, sensitive, problematic skin - acnes, whiteheads & blackheads. Suitable for all skin types. US$56.00

Mageline Skin Repair Gel 50g
epairs damaged skin and soothes sensitive skin. It has magical effect towards repeated acne vulgaris, damaged skin after cosmetic laser treatment and intolerable skin issue. Agave and Chamomile content help to replenish the skin and enhance skin immunity and repair ability. Moisturises and tighten pores. Great for enlarged and coarse pores, sensitive and fragile skin or skin with visible blood capillary. Effective in repairing skin with long term acne issues. Promotes the healing ability of the skin and protecting it from harmful external environment. US$67.00

Mageline Black Tea and Lavender Mask

Mageline Black Tea & Lavender Mask 200g
Black tea extract has high antioxidant that can help protect your cells from DNA damage. It helps defend skin against free radicals and smooth out wrinkles, and restore radiance to dull skin. Aloe vera extract is the perfect remedy for sunburned and sensitive skin, soothing and hydrating, has anti-inflammatory and cooling properties to reduce acne and infection, lighten blemishes and accelerate skin healing process. Natural lavender extract improves the circulation by adding oxygen to the skin cells, soothes the skin, has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties that can fight the bacteria that cause acne and inflammation. It relieves itching and reduces the symptoms of eczema. It also decongests the irritated areas on the skin by adding moisture, thereby accelerating the healing process. Suitable for all skin types. US$80.00

Mageline Black Tea & Lavender Mask 200g
This soothing cream harmonizes, calms and deeply hydrates and moisturizes dry, irritated, redness and sensitive skin. Rapidly-absorbed and balances the moisture levels in the skin leaving skin feeling silky and pampered. This great-value cream soothes sore skin and provides an injection of moisture that lasts the entire day. It sinks in quickly, leaving your skin feeling silky and optimum moisturisation on dry patches. This daily cream softens and soothes skin without clogging pores for a healthier and plumper-looking complexion, improves moisture retention and strengthen the skin barrier, helps combat environmental aggressors, keeps skin feeling comfortably supple and protected. US$79.00

Comments

  1. Hnn Hui

    Hi

    We find this to be very informative for travelers to Okinawa… it’s kind of a neat pocket guide prior to a trip :D. Well curated !!

    HH

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