The southernmost prefecture of Japan, Okinawa is made up of three groups of islands: Okinawa Shoto includes the main Okinawa Island, also known as Okinawa Honto; Miyako Islands comprises Miyako Island itself and the small islands around it; and Yaeyama Islands, which consists of Ishigaki Island and some nearby isles. It is a popular destination for swimming, scuba diving, snorkeling and other water activities, and its capital city is Naha, which is found on the main island of Okinawa Honto.
When To Go
The best time to go to Tokyo depends on what you want to see and do. All year round, the city has tons of sights to see and activities to take part in.
- During the summer (June – August), temperatures can go above 30 degrees and the days are quite hot and humid. It is advised to apply sunblock, wear a hat, and use a sunshade or umbrella.
- In autumn (September – November), the days are still warm, but expect typhoons coming in one after the other, particularly towards the end of August until the end of September.
- In spring (March – May), the weather is sunny and pleasant, with temperatures in the low 20s. However, in May, rainy days may become frequent, so always take an umbrella.
- In the winter months (December – February), temperatures fall between 15 and 20 degrees, so have a sweater or jacket ready.
Things To See
Go to the beaches
Some of the best beaches in Japan are found in Okinawa, so checking them out is a top priority if visiting this part of the country. The fine sand beaches are fringed with palm trees and offer a variety of activities, including diving, snorkeling and other water sports.
See the Churaumi Aquarium
Considered by many to be the best aquarium in Japan, the Churaumi Aqurium in Okinawa Honto is a popular attraction that houses a diverse collection of marine life, including manta rays, whale sharks, bull sharks, tiger sharks, manatees and sea turtles.
Go to the War Memorials
Okinawa Honto saw one of the bloodiest fights towards the conclusion of World War II, with around 200,000 people killed, and it is now where a Peace Memorial Park in honour of the victims stands. The complex consists of many monuments, museums and statues that remember the fallen and commemorate the tragedy.
Visit the different castles on the islands
During the reign of the Ryukyu Kingdom in Okinawa, several castles were constructed across the region. Today, one of them still stands (the Shuri Castle in Naha) while many others have been mostly destroyed (Nakagusuku Castle Ruins, Zakimi Castle Ruins, Katsuren Castle Ruins, Nakijin Castle Ruins). All of these are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Explore Okinawa World
To learn about the culture of Okinawa, visit Okinawa World, a theme park known for its large natural cave, which is about 5 kilometres long and features stalagmite and stalactite formations; a snake museum, which has displays of numerous snakes and a snake show; and a craft village, which offers hands-on workshops on dyeing, pottery, weaving, paper making and other activities.
Where To Explore
- Kumejima – A small island in the Okinawa Shoto group, Kumejima provides great spots for diving and snorkeling. Its most notable attraction is the 7-kilometre long sand bar known as Hatenohama Beach, which has fine, sparkling white sand.
- Miyako Islands – With thriving coral reefs, Miyako Islands offers a variety of top notch snorkeling and diving spots and has many rental shops and facilities available for different water activities. It is also a good spot for relaxing while watching beautiful sunsets.
- Yayaema Islands – With many pristine, white sand beaches, Yayaema Islands is a famous destination for swimming, sunbathing, diving and snorkeling. In addition, it has the well-preserved Ryukyu Village, which provides a good insight to the local culture and traditional lifestyle.
There are several ferry and boat services that link the many islands of Okinawa, and there are also buses and rental cars available for travelling within the main island.