49 Things to Do in Okinawa, the Beach Island Paradise of Japan

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  • Okinawa is a gorgeous collection of islands around 400 miles south of mainland Japan. It boasts sandy white beaches, glamorous hotel resorts, and fun activities like snorkelling, scuba diving, and swimming with marine animals. It is also home to several sightseeing spots such as gardens and castles, making the group of islands a worthwhile visit for those vacationing for a summer break.

    Okinawa is a popular spot for people to escape the busy city life and get some serious seaside therapy. There are also many great outdoor activities you can participate in besides swimming and sunbathing. If you’re heading to Okinawa, try out these 49 things to do in one of Japan’s most beautiful prefectures.

    Would you like to stay in Okinawa? Check out all the hotels in the area here!

    1. Enjoy a Day of Kayaking and Snorkelling at the Blue Cave

    In Okinawa, there are some fantastic opportunities to try kayaking and snorkelling. With this deal, you can do both on the same day! Admire the panoramic views of cliffs and coastlines from the kayak, and snorkel and explore the mysterious Blue Cave. This day out is great for small groups and ideal for those who wish to experience Okinawan sea activities.

    Booking details: Enjoy A Day of Snorkelling at Okinawa Blue Cave with Kayaking

    2. Go Paragliding

    Paragliding is enormous fun and from the sky, you can really appreciate Okinawa’s views. You and a veteran pilot will board a motor paraglider together so it doesn’t matter if you don’t have any experience. There are two crafts in flight so you can take plenty of pictures together. This experience is great for all ages and any experience level.

    Booking details: Paraglide the Beautiful Blue Skies of Okinawa

    3. Rent a Go-Kart and Ride Around Chatan

    What better way to enjoy the sunshine than in a go-kart? Have an exciting time riding around Chatan town in Okinawa. Feel the thrill of driving in a real go-kart! Please make sure that all drivers have either a Japanese driver’s license or an international driving permit before you book.

    Booking details: Rent Go-Karts and Ride Around Chatan, Okinawa

    4. Take a Romantic Sunset or Night Cruise, Dinner Included

    Okinawa is an incredibly romantic place to go as a couple. Why not do something special for your loved one and book a boat cruise? Watch either the sunset or see the starry skies, watch a live performance, and enjoy a romantic dinner together. This gorgeous evening with your partner will surely be the cherry on top of a beautiful holiday.

    Booking details: Sunset or Cruising Tour in Okinawa (Gorgeous Dinner)

    5. Go Snorkelling with Whale Sharks

    The whale shark is the largest species of fish in the world and gentle by nature. There is a chance in Okinawa for you to go snorkelling with them! This truly memorable experience is something animal lovers don’t want to miss. All scuba diving equipment is provided and for the fee you also get transportation and insurance. This experience is suitable for people ages 6 to 59.

    Booking details: Enjoy Snorkelling with Whale Sharks in Okinawa

    6. Snorkel for Cute Tropical Fish in the Blue Cave

    If snorkelling sounds interesting for you but you’re not sure about whale sharks, this might be more up your alley. Visit the lovely Blue Cave and snorkel for adorable tropical fish! You can even feed them and see how many you can gather. English-speaking staff members are available to guide you and the diving equipment is provided. Please check the age and health problem restrictions in the link below before you book.

    Booking details: Enjoy a Blue Cave and Cute Tropical Fish Snorkelling Tour

    7. Learn to Cook Traditional Food From Okinawa in Naha

    Interested in cooking and learning about traditional Okinawa food? In this private cooking class in Naha, you can learn about the palace cuisine of the Okinawan Ryukyu Kingdom, visit a local market, cook together, and then enjoy the delicious flavours of this fresh and healthy cuisine.

    Booking details: Learn to Cook Traditional Food from Okinawa in Naha

    8. Taste Awamori, a Strong Okinawan Liquor

    Awamori is a very famous Okinawan shochu liquor. If you’re interested in trying it, consider taking this factory tour and tasting session on the main island of Okinawa. Learn about the process of the distillation and visit the factory cellar. Taste some fresh and unique awamori with your English-speaking host. Of course, this is only suitable for adults. Please note the drinking age in Japan is 20.

    Booking details: Taste Awamori, a Strong Okinawan Liquor, at a Factory

    9. Enter the Prehistoric Gangala Valley

    Join the guided tour to the Gangala Valley where you’ll find lush forests and ancient caves. Take an exciting trek in this fascinating part of Okinawa and then enjoy a drink at the nearby cafe. This tour is perfect if you enjoy light hiking and exploring natural places.

    Booking details: Enter the Prehistoric Gangala Valley

    10. See All the Best Historical Sites of Naha

    Naha, Okinawa is not only popular for its outdoor activities and relaxation, but also for its many historical sites that tell tales of the former Ryukyu Kingdom. Explore Naha’s Shuri Castle, Shikinaen Garden, Navy Underground Headquarters, and Tsuboya district. Learn about the area’s rich history, both ancient and wartime. This tour is perfect for those who would like to know more about Naha’s history and really appreciate the area.

    Booking details: See all the best historical sites of Naha, Okinawa

    11. Cook Okinawa Cuisine with Goya

    Goya is a vegetable used a lot in Okinawan cooking and is said to be one of the secrets to Okinawan longevity. Try this cooking class where you can cook one of three dishes using this nutritious local ingredient. Unlike the cooking class mentioned earlier, in this one you cook at a Japanese family’s house. Make new friends and cook with local people during your stay in Okinawa.

    Booking details: Cooking Experience Okinawa Cuisine with GOYA

    12. Visit Churaumi Aquarium and Pineapple Park, Airport Transfer Included

    Even if you’re not staying near Naha, you can still take this tour as it includes an airport transfer to and from Naha Airport. Visit the northern part of the island to see whale sharks and manta rays at Churaumi Aquarium. Afterwards, stop at Nago Pineapple Park to sample some locally grown pineapple. Check out some traditional art at Glass no Mori before heading back to the airport in the afternoon. Great for families and children!

    Booking details: Visit Churaumi Aquarium & Pineapple Park with Airport Transfer

    13. See the Best of Okinawa on a One-Day Sightseeing Bus Tour

    Ideal for those who are visiting Okinawa for the first time and are unable to rent a car, this one-day tour takes you on a bus to see lovely local places such as Kouri Island Bridge, the Churaumi Aquarium, and Ryukyu Village. Cover several of Okinawa’s beautiful sights and relax in a hassle-free full-day tour.

    Booking details: See the best of Okinawa on a One-day Sightseeing Bus Tour

    14. Tour Churaumi Aquarium and Kouri Island from Naha, Okinawa

    This tour takes you to Churaumi Aquarium, the Kouri Ocean Tower observatory, and Mori no Glass art studio to see some local traditional artworks. This convenient bus tour ensures you can see some of the best that Okinawa’s main island has to offer.

    Booking details: Tour Churaumi Aquarium and Kouri Island from Naha, Okinawa

    15. Try an Introduction Diving Course on Ishigaki Island

    Ishigaki Island has some stunning underwater sights including manta rays, tropical fish, and coral reefs. Immerse yourself in this aquatic world by taking an introductory diving course! You’ll have a trial dive at the Coral Reef and if you select the full-day option, you can then go and try to spot manta rays by diving and snorkelling. After that, you’ll head back to the shop to eat lunch together. You’ll even receive a special CD with photographs taken during your dive. This is suitable for people over 10 years old.

    Booking details: Try an Introduction Diving Course! – in Ishigaki Island

    16. Cook a Traditional Pork Dish

    This cooking class is hosted by a local Okinawan fluent in English and his family. Pork is another popular ingredient for Okinawan food and your host will teach you to make one of three delicious pork dishes. Spend an afternoon with a Japanese family preparing a yummy, meaty dish!

    Booking details: Pork Okinawan Traditional Cuisine Cooking

    17. Go Jungle Trekking and Take a Zipline on Ishigaki Island

    Explore Ishigaki’s island beauty in an eco-friendly way by trekking the jungle-like forests and checking out some unique plants. After the trek, take an exciting zipline back down to the starting point! You can take the morning tour or the afternoon tour and the booking also includes hotel pick-up and drop-off.

    Booking details: Explore Ishigaki Island! Jungle Trekking & Zip Line

    18. Book a Professional Photo Shoot

    Do you want some stunning photographs of you and your partner or loved ones in Okinawa but don’t have time to take pictures? Maybe you’d prefer professional-level shoots in the right light and in great locations. Consider booking this four-hour photo shoot where a professional will take high-quality images of your trip. Your host will suggest good places or you can request to visit specific locations. Get perfect pictures of your time in Okinawa emailed to you after the shoot and create some beautiful memories.

    Booking details: Book a 4-hour Photo Shooting Tour in Okinawa, Japan

    19. Churaumi Aquarium Ticket with Full Day Bus Tour of Okinawa

    This tour includes a visit to the Churaumi Aquarium to admire the colourful marine wildlife and options to see the Busena Underwater Observatory, Nago Pineapple Park, and the Mihama American Village. There is an audio guide in English as well as seven other languages. This action-packed day ensures you’ll get to see some of the best Okinawa has to offer all in one fun day.

    Booking details: Churaumi Aquarium Ticket with Full Day Bus Tour of Okinawa!

    20. Take a Trip Around South Okinawa Island with a Local

    If a bus isn’t for you, try touring round the southern part of Okinawa with a local in their car! The host grew up in this part of the island and can show you many places little-known to most tourists. The day includes exploring Shuri Castle, eating lunch together at a local restaurant, exploring the sacred Sefa Utaki, and sampling delicious tempura at Oujima, also called Tempura Island. See Okinawa from a local’s eyes and possibly make a new friend!

    Booking details: Take a trip around South Okinawa island with a local!

    21. Go Paddle Boarding

    Have a pleasant day out paddle boarding and challenge yourself to stand up! The beautiful beach in which this activity takes place has hardly any waves, meaning you can appreciate the surrounding cliffs and have a fun and relaxing time. If you’re staying in Onna Village, this tour also includes a hotel pickup service.

    For other areas, also see the paddle boarding activity on Ishigaki Island and paddle boarding on Iriomote Island.

    Booking details: Try a Stand Up Paddle adventure in Okinawa!

    22. Playing with Squirrel Monkeys at a Bar in Naha

    Would you like a dining experience that’s a little different? You might have heard of cat cafes in Japan but in Naha, Okinawa, they have a bar featuring squirrel monkeys! Watch these playful animals as you try unique food and drink prepared by the staff. You can also spend some time in the monkey area where you can feed them. Drink as much as you like at this interesting establishment!

    Booking details: Enjoy playing with Squirrel monkeys at a bar in Naha

    23. Visit Ogimi Village and Pick Fruit

    Ogimi is a picturesque village on Okinawa’s main island. Take a tour of the village and see the famous “bashoku” traditional cloth. Then pick some delicious fresh fruit with local people! Be sure to wear comfortable clothing and appropriate footwear. Gardening gloves are also a good idea.

    Booking details: Enjoy Ogimi village fruits picking & village tour, Okinawa!

    24. Have a Two-Night Detox Beauty Stay

    If you haven’t booked your hotel yet and you’d love to have three days of beauty treatments, look no further than this excellent package. Have a two-night stay in the terrace club in Busena where you’ll enjoy a body pack and scrub, body treatments, and yoga. This gorgeous detox stay also includes use of the hotel services such as breakfast, the swimming pool, sauna, gym, library lounge and bar, and even a butler service! Book something special during your stay in Okinawa.

    Booking details: Experience the Detox Beauty Stay, in Okinawa

    25. Reservation for the Southern Links Golf Club

    If you love golf, try playing it surrounded by Okinawa’s natural beauty! This overnight stay includes use of the beach golf course and there’s an option to have caddies included. Golf lovers would adore this one-night getaway.

    Booking details: Reservation for The Southern Links Golf Club in Okinawa

    26. Join an Acerola Beauty Spa Program on Taketomi Island

    This beauty program takes place on Taketomi Island and is a two-night stay of rejuvination. Perfect for stressed and busy people who need a break of being spoiled, you can take an bath of acerola, a skin-brightening and anti-ageing superfood. Enjoy a day of acerola picking and eating and have some spa treatments to brighten and refresh your skin. This leisurely relaxation stay will surely give you the refreshing boost you deserve.

    Booking details: Join & Enjoy Acerola Beauty Spa Program in Okinawa!

    27. Have a Traditional Bingata (Okinawan Dyeing) Experience in Naha

    Bingata is the traditional form of fabric dyeing in Okinawa. If you’re interested in this art form, get on down to this workshop and make your own tote bag by trying out bingata dyeing! Learn a little about the history and methods of bingata and create your very own bag. You can also shop for your own items at the workshop. Art fans would enjoy this activity.

    If you’d like a similar experience that is more suitable for children, check out the bingata craft experience in Uruma city.

    Booking details: Enjoy Traditional Bingata (Okinawan Dyeing) Experience, Naha

    28. Visit the Karate Museum

    Did you know that Okinawa was the birthplace of karate? If you like martial arts, you can’t miss a trip to the Karate Museum. A curator, who is also a karate instructor, will talk about the history of Okinawa and you can see old photographs and items on display. Check out the calligraphy works offered at a special discount and absorb the ambiance of the nearby karate dojo.

    Booking details: Visit the Karate Museum

    29. Explore South Okinawa’s Nature and History

    This 1-day bus tour covers many great places in southern Okinawa. These include a visit to Shuri Castle, the Navy Underground Headquarters, and Gyokusendo Cave, said to be the most beautiful cave in Asia. Spend the day exploring beautiful Okinawa and the many delights it has to offer its visitors.

    Booking details: Explore south Okinawa’s nature and history on a bus tour

    30. Enjoy 5 Great Attractions in a Bus Tour from Naha

    Here, you can see five of Okinawa’s best spots in just one day. These include the aquarium, Manza Cape, Ryukyu Village, Okashi Goten, and Nago Pineapple Park. Experience what old Okinawa life was like in the village and take amazing photos of the big blue sea at Manza Cape.

    Booking details: Enjoy 5 Great Attractions in a bus tour from Naha, Okinawa

    31. Explore Kouri Island and Ryukyu Village

    On this day out, you can stroll across the Kouri Island Bridge to explore the luscious island before heading to the Tropical Dream Center to see the wildlife. Take a break at Yanbaru Ikoi no Mori Rest House. If there’s time, you can visit the aquarium as well. Head to Ryukyu Village to see traditional dancing and music and even have the chance to see a habu snake. This fun experience would be an excellent addition to your holiday.

    Booking details: Explore Kouri Island and Ryukyu Village in Okinawa!

    32. Venture Out on a Half-Day Island Tour of Ishigaki

    Ishigaki Island is also worth checking out for its pretty views, activity locations, and beaches. Explore Ishigaki for half a day on this tour, where you’ll see Kabira Bay and Tamatorizaki Viewpoint. Stop for lunch and overlook the ocean while you try out Yaeyama-style cuisine.

    Booking details: Venture Out on Half-Day Island Tour of Ishigaki, Okinawa!

    33. See Ishigaki and Taketomi

    Experience the best of the Yaeyama Islands by taking this full-day tour of Ishigaki and Taketomi. Hop on a bus and visit the Kabura Bay with an optional glass-bottom boat tour to see the local wildlife in its natural habitat. In the afternoon, you’ll head to Taketomi Island. Ride a water buffalo cart and take in the views of Ryukyu Village. Lunch at Aunt Pozu’s restaurant is included.

    Booking details: Enjoy A Full-Day Island Tour of Ishigaki and Taketomi!

    34. Enjoy Visiting Four of the Yaeyama Islands

    See Iriomote, Yubujima, Kohama, and Taketomi all in one day from the comfort of a bus! Your guide will show you local attractions and places where you can sample fresh local foods. Shop for souvenirs, take plenty of photographs, and make your trip one to remember.

    Booking details: Enjoy Visiting Four of The Yaeyama Islands in Okinawa!

    35. Visit Okinawa’s Famous Tourists Spots and Enjoy a Dinner Show

    This tour is similar to previously mentioned days out because they include a visit to Churaumi Aquarium and Kouri Island Bridge. However, with this option, you can also experience an exciting dinner while watching a traditional dance in Urashima! Choose between three different courses including a baked lobster and crab soup option. Enjoy traditional Okinawa and take your vacation to the next level.

    Booking details: Visit Okinawa’s Famous Tourists Spots & Enjoy a Dinner Show!

    36. Hike Up Mt. Sekirinzan and See Marine Life at the Aquarium

    This exciting activity leaves from Naha. Climb Mount Sekirinzan and take in the gorgeous views of the hills and the ocean. Then head to Churaumi Aquarium to see some awe-inspiring marine life including sharks and tropical fish. Later you can drop by some souvenir shops and grab some gifts for your loved ones back home. This tour is great for young people and families.

    Booking details: Enjoy a Tour of Churaumi Aquarium & Mt. Sekirinzan, Okinawa

    37. Enjoy the Amazing View of Okinawa from a Helicopter

    Flying in a helicopter and seeing the world below is a luxurious experience. See Okinawa from the sky with this exciting helicopter trip! You can choose from three different options including Chibishi to Maejima, the Kudaka Island course, and the Kerama Islands National Park course. Tax and insurance is included in the price. Keep in mind that the tour may be cancelled if the weather is bad.

    Booking details: Enjoy the Amazing View from a Helicopter in Okinawa!

    38. Visit the Peace Memorial and More by Private Car

    What better way to get around than by private car? With this tour, you’ll see the former Navy Underground Headquarters, the Himeryuri Peace Monument, the Peace Memorial Museum, Shuri Castle, and more. There is also time for shopping if you’d like to get souvenirs. This great tour is perfect for small groups and ensures you get around Okinawa in style.

    Booking details: Visit the Peace Memorial in a Okinawa Private Car Tour

    39. Experience Okinawa’s Traditions at a Guest House in Kichi

    If a resort hotel doesn’t strike your fancy how about staying in a guest house? This quiet and cosy accommodation has nearby parks and beaches for a comfortable stay and is located in Nakajin. A few activities such as making sweets and playing traditional instruments are also available. Check out the link below for more information.

    Booking details: Experience Okinawa’s traditions at guest house Kichi!

    40. Go Fishing on Miyako Island

    Do you like fishing? In Okinawa, there’s an opportunity to take a boat to Ikema Island, which is connected to Miyako Island. Have a great day of fishing in the coral reef sea and marvel at the diversity of marine life in that area. Take in the beautiful surrounding views and see how many unusual fish and shells you can see. People of any level are invited to join this activity and children are also welcome.

    Booking details: Go Fishing on Miyako Island

    41. Have Dinner With a Cultural Show in Naha

    When you eat out in Okinawa, why not book a dance show to enjoy with your meal on one of the nights of your stay? Choose between several local meals and watch an original show on stage in downtown Naha. Some cuisine options include pork shabu-shabu, pork steak with papaya salad, and several course meals. Attend this event during one of your free nights in Naha and make your evening meal extra special!

    Booking details: Enjoy Okinawa Dinner Yotsutake with a cultural show in Naha

    42. Watch a Fish Auction and Make Sushi in Nago

    Nago, Okinawa is home to a vibrant and colourful fish market. Head there to watch (or even join) an exciting fish auction before heading to a local bar to make fresh sushi! Try cutting up the fish and making fresh servings under the guidance of a professional chef. After that, you can eat your delicious creation!

    Booking details: Watch Fish Auction and Make Sushi in Nago, Okinawa

    43. Make Soba Noodles and Learn to Play the Sanshin at a Local Home

    The sanshin is a traditional Okinawan stringed musical instrument. This cosy activity involves visiting the home of a delightful old couple who will teach you how to play this traditional instrument! After that, you can make soba noodles together and try sata andagi, an Okinawan doughnut. Spend a nice afternoon with a charming Japanese family and learn something new.

    Booking details: Make Okinawa soba and Learn Sanshin at Local Home in Okinawa

    44. Have Dinner with a Local Family

    This is an opportunity to spend an evening with a Japanese family and eat a home-cooked meal with them. Make some delicious food together and learn some local dialect. Experience cooking in a Japanese home environment and make some delicious discoveries along the way.

    Booking details: Have dinner with a local family

    45. Harvest Sugarcane and Eat Okinawa Soba Noodles During a Home Visit

    With this activity, you can also spend time with a local family but this time it’s outdoors! Experience the challenge of harvesting sugar cane at their farm and slurp delicious homemade noodles for lunch. You can also learn some Okinawan dialect here and potentially make great friends with a friendly local family.

    Booking details: Harvest sugarcane and make Okinawa soba during a home visit

    46. Go Waterfall Trekking and Canyoning on Iriomote Island

    Iriomote is an island perfect for exciting outdoor activities. Try waterfall trekking, jungle trekking, and canyoning on one of these two offered courses. Explore the beautiful nature and enjoy the fresh air and exercise. A professional guide will help you with canyoning so don’t worry if you don’t have any experience.

    Booking details: Go Waterfall Trekking & Canyoning at Iriomote Island

    47. Enjoy Diving and Snorkelling on Miyako Island

    Miyako Island is known for having some of Japan’s best beaches and is a great destination for diving and snorkelling. Head to the island for a full day course of snorkelling to see tropical fish and other marine life. A half-day course is also available. You can also opt for a full or half-day diving course.

    Drinks and snacks are included in the price and there is also an option to rent an underwater digital camera for an extra fee.

    Booking details: Enjoy Diving and Snorkelling at Miyako Island

    48. Try Diving in Ishigaki’s Beautiful Ocean

    If Ishigaki is more accessible for you, try this cool beginner’s diving course at the beach! It’s fine even if you’ve never been diving before as the day’s course gives you time to get used to it. After lunch, you’ll dive properly and see some amazing underwater sights including tropical fish and coral.

    Booking details: Enjoy Trial Diving in beautiful Ishigaki’s Ocean!

    49. Have a Trial Diving with Sea Turtle in Okinawa!

    Finally, this exciting diving course allows you to swim with sea turtles! Explore the ocean with these beautiful and endangered creatures in their natural habitat. If you’re staying in Naha, the host can pick you up from your hotel. Lunch is included and you can eat it on the deck of the boat.

    Booking details: Have a Trial Diving with Sea Turtle in Okinawa!

    Be sure to book over-the-phone medical support during your trip where you can get professional health advice, help finding nearby pharmacies and clinics, and interpretation services when you’re at medical facilities. Also consider making use of the island’s car rental services.

    If you need internet on the go, consider renting a Wifi router for a hassle-free internet connection wherever you are in Japan. Finally, if it’s your first time in Okinawa, try out the airport to hotel transfer service for easy commute between your accommodation and the airport.

    With these 49 awesome activities and tours in Okinawa to try, no doubt your itinerary is getting full! It’s important to experience as much as possible during your stay at this gorgeous group of islands and hopefully, you’ve found some things that are suitable for you and the people you’re travelling with.

    Would you like to stay in Okinawa? Check out all the hotels in the area here!

    Featured image: jp.fotolia.com/