Should You Visit Okinawa?

Are you thinking about visiting Okinawa, Japan? Here's what you need to know before planning your trip.


Is Okinawa worth visiting?

Yes, it's worth visiting this archipelago for three to seven days because of the many great activities. Okinawa is a tropical region in Japan that has long attracted vacationers and adventure-seekers. The region is filled with white sand beaches, impressive scuba diving and snorkeling, and a truly unique cuisine. There are also resorts where you can relax in luxury and hiking trails where you can find an adventure. Okinawa is loved by visitors for many reasons, and is routinely on national "best of" lists, including Conde Nast's Best Islands in Asia.

Okinawa, Japan Okinawa, Japan

Reasons to Visit Okinawa

Scuba Diving & Snorkeling
The waters around Okinawa are filled with a rich biodiversity of corals and tropical fish. You'll also find sea turtles and other larger marine animals. There are also mangrove forests that form the breeding ground for many types of marine life. The snorkeling and diving in the area is world class, and attracts both beginners and experienced divers.

Beaches
The region is filled with white sand beaches and turquoise water. Some of the beaches are accessible and lively while others are more remote and peaceful. Furuzamami Beach is both easy to access but also has a relaxed atmosphere. Nishihama Beach is more remote but well worth the effort and Aharen Beach is a popular day trip by ferry.

Hiking
The island's tropical setting provides hikers with lush jungles and unique geology to explore. One of the most popular areas for hiking is Yambaru National Park. In this park you can walk through the mangroves and spot local wildlife. The region also has many off-the-beaten-path hiking opportunities for those looking for an adventure.

Museums
Although most visitors come for the natural beauty and beach setting, there are some nice historic sights and museums in the region. Favorites include Shurijo Castle, Futenma Shrine, and Churaumi Aquarium.

Food
Food in the region is truly unique, and sometimes a bit bizarre. There's a surprising amount of international influence on the cuisine because the islands are close to China and Taiwan, and there's a large American presence due to the US military. Despite this, the cuisine has its roots in the area's long history. Local dishes include rafute (pork belly in a stew), goya chanpuru (stir fry with melon, pork, and tofu), and umibudo (sea grapes).

Nightlife
The diverse population has impacted the nightlife scene, and you'll see international influences at the bars and clubs in the area. Many locals begin their night out at a izakaya, which is part bar, part restaurant. The cities are also known for their jazz clubs and karaoke scene.

Resorts
There are large resorts as well as smaller, elegant hotels. If you want to be near the water, check out the coastal areas of Onna, Miyakojima, and Ishigaki.

Shopping
There are a number of shopping streets in the urban areas. You'll also find large outlet malls near the US military base. A favorite shopping street in Naha is Kokusai-dori Shopping Street, which has local shops and souvenir vendors.




Is Okinawa worth visiting in the Summer?

Summer is the high season for travel in Okinawa, so expect more visitors and higher prices. This destination is quite popular with tourists, and in the high season it's even busier than usual as this is when most people like to visit. Expect crowds to be large, and prices to be a bit higher than normal. However, there's plenty to do here this time of year, too.

The weather in Okinawa is fairly warm during summer, and stays around 29°C (84°F). But it can get as warm as 31°C (88°F) at times, too. It's also quite rainy during this season, so be prepared.

With the warmer weather, the beach is very popular this time of year. Spend time enjoying the waves and sand during your visit. The nearby hiking this time of year is a must-do, so take some time to get out on the trails, take in some fresh air, and enjoy the scenery. You'll find plenty to do during summer, as you'll be able to lounge on the beach, go hiking, and spend time at the museums. Also, you can relax at a luxurious resort and take advantage of the local nightlife.


Summer Weather in Okinawa
Avg Temp
(°C/°F)
Avg Rain
(mm/inches)
July 29°C (84°F) 171 mm (6.7 in)
August 28°C (83°F) 266 mm (10.5 in)
September 28°C (82°F) 161 mm (6.3 in)

Is Okinawa worth visiting in the Autumn?

This is the shoulder season for travel in Okinawa. This destination is quite touristy, so in the shoulder season you can still find plenty of crowds, but better prices.

The weather in Okinawa is fairly warm during autumn, and stays around 25°C (77°F). But it can get as warm as 27°C (81°F) at times, too. It's also quite rainy during this season, so be prepared.

Autumn is a great time of year to explore the numerous museums and landmarks around town. They are fun for the whole family as well great for couples. During this season it's fun to experience the beautiful scenery, the museums and landmarks, and the hiking.


Autumn Weather in Okinawa
Avg Temp
(°C/°F)
Avg Rain
(mm/inches)
October 25°C (77°F) 152 mm (6 in)
November 22°C (71°F) 117 mm (4.6 in)
December 18°C (65°F) 116 mm (4.6 in)

Is Okinawa worth visiting in the Winter?

Keep in mind that it can be fairly rainy during winter, and temperatures hover around 16°C (61°F).

The low season for travel in Okinawa is during the winter. This destination is quite touristy, but in the low season you'll see fewer crowds and much better prices.

This is a great time of year to wander through the museums, sample the delicious cuisine, and grab some drinks at a bar.


Winter Weather in Okinawa
Avg Temp
(°C/°F)
Avg Rain
(mm/inches)
January 16°C (61°F) 125 mm (4.9 in)
February 17°C (62°F) 107 mm (4.2 in)
March 18°C (65°F) 156 mm (6.1 in)

Is Okinawa worth visiting in the Spring?

Spring is the shoulder season for travel in Okinawa. This destination is quite touristy, so in the shoulder season you can still find plenty of crowds, but better prices.

The weather in Okinawa is fairly warm during spring, and stays around 22°C (71°F). But it can get as warm as 24°C (75°F) at times, too. It's also quite rainy during this season, so be prepared.

A visit this time of year should definitely be on your list, as the natural scenery is just breathtaking. Explore the island scenery to take in the views, admire nature up close, and enjoy the fresh air. You'll find plenty to do during spring, as you'll be able to find the best deals at the shops, browse through museums, and admire the wonderful scenery. Also, you can experience the nightlife.


Spring Weather in Okinawa
Avg Temp
(°C/°F)
Avg Rain
(mm/inches)
April 22°C (71°F) 164 mm (6.5 in)
May 24°C (76°F) 254 mm (10 in)
June 27°C (80°F) 255 mm (10 in)

Things to Consider Before Visiting Okinawa

Getting Around
The area is not very walkable, and public transit is not great here, so it might be difficult to get around without arranging your own transportation.

The Cost
Depending on your budget, schedule, and travel style, Okinawa might be an expensive destination for you. You can find out the travel costs for Okinawa here or see if Okinawa is expensive here.

Related

What is Okinawa most famous for?

Okinawa is most famous for its pristine tropical environment, stunning blue water, and impressive marine life. The archipelago is very popular for its scuba diving & snorkeling, beaches, and hiking. Also, it's known for museums, food, nightlife, and resorts. Many people love the shopping, too. It is often described as tropical, lush, serene, and idyllic.

What is the most famous sight in Okinawa?

The most popular sight in Okinawa is the Kerama Islands. You can see prices and costs for this and other sights in Okinawa on our travel costs page.

Or, see tickets, activities, and tours for the Kerama Islands and other attractions here.

How touristy is Okinawa? Is it a popular archipelago to visit?

Okinawa is a popular archipelago for tourists and travelers. Here are some of the most popular activities and tours. (Prices in US Dollars)

  • Kayak & Snorkel: private tour in Yanbaru, north Okinawa: $101
  • E-Bike Nature Tour in Shuri: $89
  • Beautiful sunset kayak tour in Okinawa: $36
  • Private Snorkeling in Sea from Naha with Fully Chartered Cruiser: $99
  • Okinawa Hot spot walk and local food & beer tour(All include): $46
  • Karate History Tour in Okinawa: $107
  • Official Street Go-Kart Tour - Okinawa Shop: $76
  • Okinawa Local Experience and Sunset Cycling Tour: $86

How long should I spend in Okinawa?

The ideal length of time for a trip to Okinawa is at least three or as many as seven days. Since Okinawa has a variety of activities such as scuba diving & snorkeling, beaches, and hiking, most people need this much time to see and do everything here.

If you have a specific amount of time for your trip, see our advice about how much time to spend here: Should I spend 1, 2, or 3 days in Okinawa?, Should I spend 3, 4, or 5 days in Okinawa?, and Should I spend 1 or 2 weeks in Okinawa?.