I went to Okinawa recently for a trip with my secondary school friend and here was our itinerary!
HOTELS TO STAY AT
1) Okinawa Nahana Hotel & Spa
A 15-minute drive away from the airport, this hotel was the first hotel we stayed at (room tour video below).
The breakfast buffet here had an amazing spread and the food was really good too. They had western options like scrambled eggs and sausages but you should really try the Japanese options like their miso soup, taco rice and stewed pork, which we soon found out that every hotel’s breakfast buffet had these items too.
There was a convenience store located nearby, some restaurants, and even a bar.
2) Vessel Hotel Campana
This hotel was located conveniently in American Village, which is one of the places you should visit while in Okinawa.
It was located right by the beach and we had a really beautiful view of it from our room. We went in December and it was really cold but we still saw people playing at the beach and I was so shocked.
Catching sunset here was the most beautiful thing ever.
It was surrounded by the prettiest lights at night and lots of American shops and food.
Here are some of the food we had here. On the left was a steakhouse we visited called Steak House 88 and on the right was a store along the streets selling bubble tea, fries, and other to-go food.
3) Hotel Gracery Naha
This hotel was located along a busy street in Naha and was so convenient as there were tons of shops nearby. It was a great place to do snack, souvenir and clothes shopping. There was a McDonalds and even a Starbucks nearby too!
POPULAR TOURIST ATTRACTIONS
4) Okinawa Churami Aquarium
This place was so huge you had to walk a really long distance just to get to the aquarium itself.
We got to see the coolest sea creatures and here are some of the highlights.
5) Nago Pineapple Park
It is what it’s called. This pineapple park had a driverless vehicle that brought us on a short tour around the park where we saw tiny pineapples that were growing.
Sadly, there weren’t any free pineapples to eat but they did sell pineapples, pineapple flavoured soft serves and cream puffs which were really yummy. The puffs tasted like Beard Papa’s puffs.
6) Naminoue Shrine
The Shrine was actually pretty boring as it was pretty small and the only things you can do are stuff like ‘lucky drawing’ to see what luck you have etc. On the left, our tour guide was telling us that people would use those wooden ladles to wash their hands and their mouths before entering.
However, at the back, there was a beach and the view of the sea was so on point. There was even a guy lying by the beach if you can see on the left picture.
7) Okinawa World
This place was sort of confusing as there were lots of things happening but you had to pay for the activities they had inside on top of the entrance fee. They had activities like the fish eating feet thing, etc. I also got a mango soft serve here because why not.
The highlights of this place was the Stalagmite cave that we had to walk for 30 minutes in the dimly lit cave and watching glassblowing in which you may also buy the items after that.
8) Shikinaen Garden
I thought this garden would be pretty boring from how the entrance looked but once you walked inside, it actually had really nice vibes.
The bridges had such an old-Chinese-movie vibe to it and that called for a photo!
9) Michnoeki Kadena
This place had an observation deck on the 4th floor where you could see the US base from. It was pretty boring as I’m not a fan of planes but you can visit this place if you are as you can see them take off.
Wine/ Beer Factory Visit
10) Orion Happy Park
Visiting this beer brewery was a really interesting experience. We got to see how the beer was made and even got to step inside the brewery room.
Unfortunately, on the day we visited the brewery, the can and bottle filling station was closed for maintenance so it was quite a bummer that we didn’t get to see it happen.
At the end of the tour, we were given badges to exchange for a beer tasting. We could choose between beer with alcohol (2 cups) which was served from the tap or non-alcoholic drinks like beer without alcohol, ice lemon tea, tea, water, etc. that was Orion brand.
11) Awamori Rice Wine Factory
We also got a tour inside this factory and we got to see shelves of wine that was ageing in clay pots. The tour guide told us that the oldest one was about 150 years old.
Then, they brought us into another factory where the clay pots were being made and we got to see someone making it by hand. Every pot would then be burnt and all of them will have unique burnt marks.
They were selling clay cups, pots, water dispensers which was pretty cool and so I got a cup as a souvenir. The products with the burnt marks were quite pricey so I just got a normal one. They were also giving out samples of wines at the store for tasting.
CASTLES TO VISIT
12) Shuri Castle
This castle was probably the prettiest castle that we visited amongst the rest.
Not only did we get to see the outside of it, but we even got to walk inside the castle itself which I did not expect. We had to take off our shoes and we got to see the interiors of the castle, like where the emperor sat, his replica crown and all the ancient stuff.
13) Zakimi Castle Ruins
This wasn’t really a castle as you can tell from the name of it but just what remained of it. We had to climb multiple high steps to get to the top and it was pretty dangerous because they had no railings.
However, the view on top was pretty amazing as we got to see the whole of Okinawa from above.
PLACES BY THE SEA
14) Cape Zampa
This was probably one of my favourite scenic places that we visited. It was so therapeutic to walk around this place as the breeze was really nice and the ocean was so blue. From where we were standing, the ocean was below us and the view was just really pretty.
They were selling their Okinawa brand ice cream/ soft serves too and we tried their famous Beni-Imo flavour which is purple sweet potato. The sweet potato flavour wasn’t very distinct but more of a subtle flavour.
15) Cape Manzamo
When we visited this place, it was packed with tourists and students and all of us were here to see this rock that looked like an elephant trunk.
However, this place had more than that. It was really high above sea level and we walked to the edge to see the waves crashing on the shore.
16) Kouri Island
We crossed a bridge to this island to watch sunset and it was beautiful. We went to the dock but were soon chased out as we weren’t allowed inside. The island also had a store selling black sugar, fruits and other Okinawan food-related items.
17) Senagajima Umikaji Terrace
It was filled with purely white buildings selling food, snacks, souveniers, and lots of stuff. It was also by the beach which had a really pretty view.
SHOPPING (clothes/ snacks)
18) Outlet Mall Ashibinaa
Go crazy here and shop for all your branded items like Michael Kors, Kate Spade, Samantha Thavasa, Champion, Adidas, etc. The best deal I got was Stan Smiths for S$38!
19) Kokusai Street
Shop for anything here from fruits like giant apples to Japanese snacks! It was here I saw the biggest apple I’ve seen in my life and it was so huge and juicy for ¥200/S$2.50.
This street even sold things like Dragon Fruit Jam and Mango Jam which I got, and even stylish hats for the winter.
20) Makishi Market
Nearby the street, look out for a small alley that leads to a market selling seafood, Japanese appetisers, fishcakes, and brown sugar stuff!
After shopping for seafood at Level 1, you can then proceed up to Level 2 to have your seafood cooked. We got to try seafood that I’ve never tried before like an Okinawan crab called the Coconut Crab which you’re supposed to eat for the roe and not the meat (as the meat became pretty dry and was not sweet). I also tried lobster sashimi, geoduck fried with butter, and a really fragrant lobster porridge. The shop with the orange banner was the one that we went to.
THINGS TO EAT
21) Ichiran Ramen
Along the same street, Ichiran Ramen is located at the basement of a building (Address: Address: Japan, 〒900-0013 Okinawa Prefecture, Naha, Makishi, 1 Chome−2−24 琉球セントラルビルB1).
I nearly passed out when I saw it as the first time I tried Ichiran was in Hong Kong and I loved it and I got to try the one in Japan! The store was really cool as you had to place your orders at a machine and there were individual seatings which is a standard Ichiran Ramen thing.
Love everything about their ramen and I just hope they’ll open an outlet in Singapore soon. I loved it so much I decided to buy the instant ramen and spend a good S$75 for 3 boxes (5 packets per box). Best. Buy. EVER.
That was my first ever experience in Japan, Okinawa!