Okinawa is said to be the “Hawaii” of Japan, and as one of the most popular destinations for a tropical escape during national holidays, this makes for a good Okinawa itinerary.
The beautiful dive sites, unique culture, and delicious cuisine are just a couple reasons to fall in love with this island prefecture in the land of the rising sun.
If you are thinking about a short visit to Okinawa during your Japan adventures, this two days itinerary will help you make the most of your time and provide useful tips for your trip planning.
The itinerary assumes that you arrive in Naha, the capital of Okinawa, and have two full days on the island. All suggestions are for references only.
Best time to visit Okinawa
Okinawa, like many tropical destinations, have dry and rainy seasons. The best time to visit is during spring or autumn (Between March to May or late September to December).
The weather is great during these periods with moderate temperatures. Avoid July to mid-September as it is typhoon season. You won’t want to deal with crazy winds and heavy rain, especially if all you got is two days!
How to get around Okinawa
It’s best to get around Okinawa by rental car and this can make for a good Okinawa self drive itinerary. The island is quite big with the points of interests spread out all over the place.
The public transportation system is not too great. It’s easy enough to get around Naha, with subways and monorails. However, beyond the city, you would have to deal with inefficient long bus rides to get anywhere.
Here is your sample Okinawa itinerary for two days.
Okinawa Itinerary Day One
Get breakfast at Makishi Fish Market
Wake up on your first morning in Naha with a seafood breakfast. Naturally, Okinawa is famous for seafood. Head to the Makishi Market in central downtown for the freshest catch of the day.
From oysters, to giant prawns, to all sorts of fish, you will be overwhelmed with choices. You can select one of the pre-cut sashimi packages or choose to have your seafood cooked in one of the many restaurants upstairs in the market.
For more yummy treats, check out this list of food in Okinawa you can’t miss.
Roam around Kokusai Dori
After breakfast, explore downtown Naha by strolling down the most famous street, Kokusai dori. Literally meaning “International street” in Japanese, this is a massive strip of shops and restaurants.
It’s a great place to experience the local vibe, buy some unique souvenirs, and sample some more classic Okinawan tastes.It won’t be long until you are hungry again after all that walking.
Try some Sata Andagi (Okinawa donuts), sea salt ice cream, sweet potato tarts, chinsuko (shortbread cookies) and more. If you like something you’ve eaten, you can likely get some to take home for your friends from many of the stores along the street.
Visit Shuri Castle
In the afternoon, take the monorail to Shuri Castle, a proud symbol of the ancient Ryukyu Kingdom in Okinawa.
The palace was the home of the Ryukyu kings for centuries until Okinawa became a Japanese prefecture in 1879. A great place to learn about the history and traditional culture of Okinawa. This UNESCO World Heritage site is absolutely stunning, so make sure to take lots of photos!
Have a Yakiniku dinner
Wind down a day of walking and feast like royalty at an all-you-can-eat BBQ dinner! My recommendation is Yakiniku King. Enjoy a selection of fresh meat, seafood, and side dishes at an awesome price! The service here is also top notch!
Okinawa Itinerary Day two
Get breakfast at Pork Tamago
A quintessential food in Okinawa is spam. It comes from the huge American influence back in the war days. So you cannot leave the island without trying something with spam in it.
Start day 2 at Pork Tamago (my favourite breakfast shop ever). This small shop downtown sells Japanese rice balls stuffed with spam and other yummy ingredients like fried tofu, egg, vegetables and more.
You can watch all the grandmas crafting these sandwich like rice balls with love in the store. Make sure to get there early as the line gets huge! I’d also advice picking up a couple extra sandwiches for later on in the day.
Go to the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium
Get up close to sea lives at the Churaumi Aquarium, one of the largest aquariums in the world. Located on the north side of the island, it will take about 1.5 hour drive from Naha to get there.
Otherwise, you can take the airport limousine bus from Naha, which will take roughly 2.5 hours. The mission is definitely worth it. Crazy sea creatures, giant whale sharks, mesmerizing feeding shows…you’ve never seen a world so fantastical like this!
Dive at Maeda Point
After a morning at the aquarium, spend the afternoon in the sea yourself! There are many beautiful diving sites in Okinawa. Maeda point is a convenient and popular spot on mainland Okinawa.
Arrange a dive trip beforehand with a dive company. I recommend Sealovers Okinawa. The guides here are friendly and speak English well. They will take care of you especially if you are a beginner diver.
Watch Sunset at Moon Beach
If you still have any energy left after diving, drive 12 minutes to Moon Beach, a private hotel beach close to Maeda Point.
This gorgeous gem has little people, as it’s meant for hotel guests. But other visitors are allowed in as well. My speculation is that they secretly hope you will fall in love with the beauty of the beach and hotel facility, and opt for a night’s stay (Exactly like what me and my partner did on our visit).
Dinner at Moon Beach Hotel
Conclude your packed two days in Okinawa with a relaxing buffet dinner at Moon Beach Hotel (You can still pay and eat here as a day visitor). It’s one of the best hotels in Okinawa.
Watch dazzling dance performances to tropical music while you enjoy delicious food. I guarantee you will be exclaiming “This is the life!”
There is more you can get up to in Okinawa of course, but if you’re heading there for a short break then this makes a good itinerary.
If you have time then you could visit the beautiful islands nearby Okinawa (will cost more money naturally). Or even head to some of Japans most southern islands like Ishigaki and others.
Once you are in Okinawa, you might never want to leave. Is Okinawa on your Japan bucket list?
You can find loads more advice for travel in Japan at this Japan guide.
Also if you’re worried about the costs of a visit to Japan see this post about how Japan is cheaper than you may think.
Useful Okinawa links:
Japan can be expensive so be sure to take Japan travel insurance.just in case.
Not useful for Okinawa, but if you’re travelling around mainland Japan a lot then getting a Japan Rail Pass (get one with that link) can save you money.
Viola is a Canadian girl who is obsessed with seeing the world. She loves hunting for unusual destinations and best sunset spots with her camera.
Viola currently documents her adventures living in Japan and travels throughout Asia. Read her easy to digest itineraries, foodie guides, packing advice and more on her blog theblessingbucket.
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