March 21, 2013

Top 10 Things to Do in Okinawa Japan - 2016

An Updated List of 10 Things to Do on the Island of Okinawa Japan in 2016

things to do on okinawa
The Ferris Wheel - Okinawa
Whether you love to get outside and enjoy the sights, or sit down and feast on the food, this list of things to do in Okinawa is sure to have something for everyone.

This list is put together to highlight some of the amazing activities and opportunities available on Okinawa for those who are visiting, or even living on the wonderful island. It is by no means conclusive or all encompassing, but it does contain some of the most popular, and well known attractions on Okinawa.

Got a favorite activity or attraction in Okinawa that isn't on this list? Mention it in the comments below.

Top 10 Things To Do in Okinawa

Here they are, starting with #10:

Peace Prayer Park on Okinawa
Peace Prayer Park on Okinawa
10. Visit Local WWII Historical Sites - such as Peace Prayer Park and the Japanese Underground HQ. These two locations, as well as many others scattered around the island, are a worthwhile stop and give a chance to remember the huge battle that took place on Okinawa during WWII. The Japanese Underground HQ is a fascinating place where visitors are allowed to walk the underground tunnels and rooms that served as Japan's military HQ on Okinawa during the battle. Both Peace Prayer Park and the Japanese Underground Museum are located at the southern end of Okinawa, near Naha city and provide unique and personal insights into the war.

9. Take Part in an Okinawan Festival - Including the Cherry Blossom Festival, Obon, Orion, Dragon Boat Races, And the Largest Tug-O-War in the world. Okinawan's love their festivals, and they are scattered throughout the year, and around the island. The Cherry Blossom Festival is held in the spring, when Japanese cherry trees bloom amazing pink blossoms. Travel north to Nago where you will easily spot the large pink mountain, called Nago Mountain, that is covered in Japanese Cherry Trees. It is a fun place to hike and enjoy the picturesque views as well as the festival activities in town. Be sure to look up more information on all the amazing festivals available in Okinawa.

Shuri Castle Okinawa
Shuri Castle - Outer Wall
8. Tour Shuri Castle and Other Japanese Castles dating back almost 1000 years! Shuri Castle, located in southern Okinawa, is a fully restored Okinawan castle built sometime around 1300. Nakagusuku Castle Ruins, another Okinawan castle, is conveniently located near the middle of Okinawa, close to Camp Foster, and Kadena AFB. While only the castle walls are standing, it presents an intriguing look at very advanced mortar-less stone building techniques. Both of these castles, and many more scattered around the island, have great views, rich history, and fun outdoor adventures.

7. Take Advantage of the Ocean Around Okinawa with Many Different Water Sports - Like the Ocean? Then Okinawa is the place for you with plenty of water activities including Scuba Diving trips, Jet Skiing, Wake Boarding, Para-sailing  Deep Sea Fishing, Sailing, Surfing, Spearfishing, and much, much more. There is really something for everyone on Okinawa when it comes to water activities. Three activities I enjoy on the island are Skimboarding, Spearfishing and Snorkeling.

6. Shop at the many Malls, Stores, Markets, and Streets around the island - Okinawa is a great place to get out and shop, not just to buy souvenirs  but to get out and experience some Japanese culture. With several older street shopping locations such as Kokusai Street (downtown Naha), Heiwadori (next to Kokusai street) and the meat market (located on Heiwadori) as well as Gate 2 Street and Park Avenue, there is plenty of old style, street market shopping to be had. And for those more interested in a modern shopping experiences, check out Jusco, other malls, and American Village, just south of Kadena AFB Gate 1. It is always fun to go shopping on Okinawa because of the unique and strange items that can be found, and purchased.

Hiji Falls okinawa waterfall - things to do in okinawa
Hiji Falls
5. Travel to Northern Okinawa and the Motobu Peninsula - Visit the Churaumi Aquarium, Hike Hiji Falls, Tour Cape Hedo and stay the night at Okuma while touring the north of Okinawa. The Aquarium, which is a major attraction on Okinawa and possibly one of the best in the world, is just one of the many adventures available to those who venture north. Okuma has both an American Military recreational facility and a Japanese resort and are each situated on fantastic beaches with lots of water activities. Don't let yourself be bound to the more populous southern part of Okinawa, take a trip north for a wonderful adventure.

4. Eat Authentic Japanese and Okinawan Food while on Okinawa - There is so much great food to be eaten on Okinawa, I could never list it all, but here are some you don't want to miss: Sushi (and sushi go-round restaurants), Okinawa Soba, Yakitori, Taco Rice, Yakisoba, Fried Rice, and this list could go on and on. The key, then, is to be bold and try as many different foods as possible, settling on your favorites. Many people are surprised when they try Okinawan food, and end up loving it.

3. Scuba Dive or Snorkel Okinawa's World Famous Coral Reefs and Surrounding Islands - Okinawa is one of the best places to get a scuba diving certification because of the low cost, and huge selection of dive sites. For those interested in staying near the surface of the water, take advantage of the clear ocean and snorkel at any one of the fantastic locations around the islands. The coral reef formations are beautiful to look at and the many different types of tropical fish are amazing. And if you want to Dive or Snorkel at one of the top five places in the world, just take a quick ferry ride to the Kerama Islands where the seascapes are unbelievable. One of my favorite experiences was swimming with a giant sea turtle on Zamami Island.

2. Eat at CoCo's Curry - Possibly the Best Restaurant in the World - While I have known a few people who didn't like CoCo's Curry, the vast majority of people I know loved it. What is CoCo's Curry? It's a restaurant chain in Japan (and spreading to America, slowly) that serves curry on rice, with a number of different toppings available. You get to choose how spicy the curry is, as well as how many grams of rice you want to eat. It is hard to say what makes CoCo's Curry so good, but it is one of those places you have to go and experience for yourself. Learn more about this place by checking out our Review of CoCo's Curry.

zamami island beach near okinawa
A Beautiful Secluded Beach
1. Go to the Beach - Okinawa has beaches everywhere and they tend to be a hub of activities, food and shopping that cannot be missed. There are several popular beaches near the middle of the island, including Tropical Beach, Sunset Beach, Araha Beach and Kadena Marina. These are great beaches to go to if you are looking to mingle with lots of other people. But if you want a more private beach, take a drive north and follow the coast of Okinawa. You will quickly find beach after beach with almost no one else around. Enjoying a beach all to yourself is very relaxing, and easy to find on Okinawa.

Bonus Activity - Go Ice Skating! Yes, even on tropical Okinawa, you can go Ice Skating at Southern Hill Sports World near Naha. This Indoor ice skating rink has plenty of public skate sessions with skate rentals. If you are looking for a unique activity  or are missing the cold of a snowy country, then enjoy a few hours of ice skating. Learn more about ice skating in Okinawa.

This top 10 things to do in Okinawa was put together to encourage everyone visiting, or living on Okinawa to get out and see more, do more and enjoy more of Okinawa.

Hope you found some new ideas for things to do, and be sure to post a comment with some of your favorites.

In case you're still looking for ideas, check out 7 More Things to Do in Okinawa!


  1. Thanks for the list! But as someone who lives in Japan, #2 gave me a good laugh.

  2. As an American married to an Okinawan who calls Okinawa home, number 2 is a joke their curry ain't all that good:)

    1. That's honestly an opinion. While I have been in Japan for almost 4 years. I would have to say that it's one of the better JAPANESE curries, but definitely not the best. To majority of the people I've met, they say it's the best curry and I've had them try out other curries as well, Indian (my favorite), Thai and other Japanese curry restaurants.