Okinawa is a famous destination for locals because of its beaches, but the prefecture is not just about its beautiful shorelines because there are places of interest for travelers from different parts of the world. These come in the form of cultural and historic sites, waterfalls, gardens, and museums just to name a few. The culture of Okinawa is unique from the rest of the country because of its different dishes, language, and other aspects. It is also a famous scuba diving destination because of its vibrant marine ecosystem.

There was a time before when the prefecture used to be independent and was a tributary state to nearby China for a number of centuries. It later became a prefecture of Japan in the late 1870s.
The islands became an important theater of war during World War II when the Americans invaded it. When the dust settled and treaties were signed, Okinawa is still home to a number of US based until today.

Okinawa is a beautiful destination that has plenty to offer those that love the beach and want to experience the island’s unique culture and history. The places listed here are just some of the attractions you can include in your itinerary.

Iriomote Island

This island in Okinawa Prefecture is a place to try eco-tourism activities such as kayaking, hiking, and river cruising. The island is mostly undeveloped which makes it a premier adventure destination. You can also go beach-bumming during your visit in places such as Hoshizuna no Hama and Tudumari no Hama.

The island is a diving destination where divers can see manta rays during the summer and spring. The Urauchi and Nakama River Cruise tours are a great way to see the island. You have the opportunity to get off the boats and do some hiking. The Urauchi Cruise costs around ¥2200 and the Nakama River Cruise costs ¥1850.

Miyako Island

This island is home to many of the country’s best and famous beaches. Its waters are also teeming with marine life, perfect for snorkeling or scuba diving. The weather and climate here will be similar to other topical destinations in Asia. Many tourists go to the island to go beach-bumming, swimming, or just to hang out. Maehama Beach is the go-to destination; it has white sand and swimmable waters. It is also an ideal spot to watch the sunset. Yoshino Beach is a great place to go snorkeling. The beaches have toilets and showers. The ideal time to visit is between April and November.

Churaumi Aquarium

This attraction is good for tourists who have kids. Its main draw is the huge Kuroshio Tank which contains different kinds of marine life such as manta rays and the majestic whale sharks. It has three floors and has various tanks and pools for sea creatures. There is a section specifically for sharks and those that like to see them. Another display showcases beautiful bioluminescent fish. You can watch shows by turtles, dolphins and manatees during different times of the day.

Okinawa Peace Memorial Park

The Battle of Okinawa during World War II was one of the most gruesome. It caused havoc and left the prefecture in shambles. Thousands died from both sides until the Americans emerged victorious. The Okinawa Peace Memorial Park was built as a memorial for those who lost their lives. Visit the site if you are interested in history.

Cape Manza

If you’re looking for dramatic views of the sea and cliffs, Cape Manza is the place to be. It is near Onna Village on Okinawa’s main island. The cliff faces the East China Sea and offers stunning views. Time your visit during blue hour or sunset for perfect pictures of the area.

Taketomi Island

This is one of the smallest islands in the prefecture and is the place where you can find preserved traditional Ryukyu houses. The size of the island makes it easy to explore and do as a day excursion. The quaint village showcases distinct design characterized by red roofing and shisa statues to protect homeowners from evil spirits. The homes are just one story high. You can also visit Kondoi and Kaiji Beach during your trip.

Okinawa World

This theme park is perfect for kids and the child at heart. Okinawa World has a traditional village theme that introduces what makes the prefecture unique and interesting to visitors. It is a showcase of the cuisine, art, music, and architecture of the group of islands. The main draw of the theme park is Gyokusendo Cave. The ancient limestone cave is around 300,000 years old.

Shikinaen Garden

This garden was constructed as a second home of Ryukyu’s kings. Like many other gardens in the country, Shikinaen has a simple yet elegant layout and look. The wooden structures with red roofs, architecture and plants found in it give it a distinctly Okinawan appeal. The Battle of Okinawa didn’t spare the garden from destruction. It was later rebuilt and restored after World War II. It then got a UNESCO World Heritage designation in 2000.

Shuri Castle

Before a fire destroyed the castle in October 2019 Shuri was a popular destination to include in Okinawa itineraries. The original castle has a history that dates back to the 1300s. The structure was destroyed and rebuilt again and again throughout the centuries. The complex consists of the Shureimon Gate, Seiden (main hall), Una Plaza, Nanden (south hall) and the Hokuden (north hall). There’s a reconstruction plan, but tourists can still visit the castle park.

Top Okinawa Hotels

Hyatt Regency Seragaki Island, Okinawa

Loisir Living Suites Seragaki

Hotel Sakurano Familia Nago

Comfort Plus

Japan Hotel Discounts


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