My most amazing adventure in Okinawa was diving with whale sharks in Yomitan. Fisherman have two of these sharks in an enclosure out at sea,and you can scuba dive with them for only $115 for 35 minutes. They are like big puppy dogs. For more details, see my web page http://www.infiltec.com/oki-0902/
This is another nice hike that will take you about 3 1/2 hours round trip. Go to Nago, take 449 of off 58. Make a right after 72 and follow the sign to Mount Katsu entrance. Park and start climbing the stairs. It will take you about 45 minutes to get to the top. Some people just enjoy the view and turn around. If you want to keep going once on top go north. The trail is pretty hard to find just keep climbing. Warning; this is not for small children! It is marked with various colors; red, blue, yellow, green. I haven't figured the difference yet. The rest is mostly downhill scrambling. Once you get to the bottom make a left and another left. Head back up the road to the parking lot.
This is a nice moderate hike that will take you about 45 minutes up and 45 back down. On top you have a great view of Okinawa. You'll be able to see the East China Sea and the Pacific Ocean at the same time.
To get there go north on 58, make a right at the light before the Renaissance Hotel (Onna Village), go around a curve or two you'll see a ramp on your left. Park, go up the ramp, you see a field and house on your left. There is a T. Make a left and follow the stairs down you come to the stone bridge. Make a right and go up you found the trail to the top.
Visit one of Okinawa's markets and you will soon be sucked into a world of unique smells, tastes, sounds, and sites. Okinawans have a great love for fresh food and the island's markets are a gateway to local cuisine. One of the best markets to visit is the Makishi Market located off of Heiwa Dori in Naha City. Although it has become popular with mainland Japanese tourists recently, it is still a favorite place to shop for Naha residents. Ths place is interesting to visit and you are sure to get some interesting photographs. The shop owners are very friendly, so even if you don't speak Japanese, a friendly smile will carry you a long way. If you are hungry, you can select some fresh seafood and have it prepared any way you want. The shop will have it brought to you on the second floor, where there is a large dining area and other restaurants. You can find Heiwa Dori off of Kokusai Street. Walk straight down and the market is off to the right about midway. Just say "Makishi Machigwa" to any of the locals and they will point you in the right direction.
This is a great thing to do if you like camping. Find yourself an out of the way beach and settle in for the night or the weekend. Now you are going to wonder how to fing that secluded beach. This is where it might get tricky; if you are lucky you have a friend that's been here a while and he/she will give you directions. If you don't know anybody here is what you do. Pick an area that is a little out of the way. Then when you drive down the road you should be able to tell if there is a beach or not. If you see cars parked by the side of the road for no apparent reason you've hit the jackpot. Now all you have to do is find the way down to the beach. If you see some locals ask them and they are more than willing to help you out. They tell you if camping is allowed or not. If you don't see locals swimming the beach might still be okay, but be careful of swimming. Common sense applies here. Usually danger signs are posted and if they are really serious they are in english. I would tell you the location of our beaches, but then that would spoil all the fun wouldn't it?
I took a ferry boat to Tokashiki Island, a small island about an hours boat ride from Naha. My ticket cost 2800 yen ($25.20). There werent' a whole heck of a lot of passengers. I would guess there were about 15 of us on this huge boat.
The water is beautiful tourqoise. I could see all kinds of tropical fish swimming around. I threw on a pair of shorts and went out for a swim. Nothing like having an entire beach to yourself. The weather was gorgeous. Here it is February and around 75 degrees. Perfect.
More info: There is a small travel office at the pier in Naha where you catch the ferry. You can purchase a ticket there. The ferries go to several islands with similar sounding names, so make sure they know exactly which island you are going to. Also, make sure they show you exactly which boat to get on, because there are several boats going to different islands and it can be confusing. On your way to the island, you may get to see some whales swimming by. Once you get to the island, there is a mini van that will take you to the other side of the island where you will find some cool caverns and a gorgeous beach filled with beautiful pieces of corral. He will drop you off at at the beach and give you a time to meet him again so that he can take you back in time to catch the ferry. On the off-season, you may very likely be the only ones on the beach. It's awesome! Make sure you take food, beverages and sunscreen with you. The sun is really bright reflecting off the white beach. I think it was around 4 hours of hangout beach time before I had to head back. In the little town on the other side of the island, there is a tiny convenience store with a little old lady who is very interested in making a buck who will sell you expensive swimsuits, dried squid, some kind of Japanese bread, and beer and water. The beach is vast and great for exploring. It's well worth the trip to have the place to yourself!
Okinawan bullfights are popular with locals around the island, but they are seldom seen by visitors. Most of the information for upcoming bullfight events is in Japanese, but if you go to the city government offices of places where bullfighting arenas exist--( such as Okinawa City, Ishikawa, and Chinen)-- you should be able to get some information. The bullfights showcase the power of bulls as they battle each other inside a small arena. For people who are now grimacing at the thought of blood and gore, do not worry as this rarely happens. The bulls square off and lock horns and push each other around until one bull decides it has had enough and runs away. The bulls are always accompanied by their owners during the fight. The owners cheer for the bulls, yell out instructions, and keep the bulls from fatally hurting each other.
Okinawa has an amazing amount of festivals that occur throughout the year. One of the most popular is the Obon festival, which includes the Eisa dance. During Obon it is said that ancestral spirits visit the homes of Okinawans. During this three-day event there is plenty of drinking and eating. On the last day, Eisa dancers and drummers can be seen performing all night to the next morning as they send the spirits back with a joyful farewell. This is one of the more colorful and fun festivals of the summer. Other traditional festivals include "hari" (traditional boat races), the tug-of-war, and various spiritual ceremonies.
The exquisite beauty of Ryukyu dancing can be seen at many festivals and dance theatres around the island. The dances can be traced back to the Ryukyu Kingdom Era. The two most popular forms of dance are classical and folk. Classical dances were performed at the royal court while folk dances were a way for common citizens to express and enjoy themselves with very colorful and animated dances that often depict stories of love and romance.
With geological formations that date back to over 200,000,000 years ago, Asumui is considered the most ancient piece of landform on Okinawa Island. Its "Lord of the Rings" atmosphere and interesting plantlife have begun to draw attention, but it is still off the beaten track for most tourists. Asumui is also much more than a nature park; it is one of Okinawa's most important spiritual places of worship for shaman priestesses. In fact, when the land was purchased by a private company and turned into a park, the plan was met with much controversey. Please keep in mind that when you visit Asumui, you are walking on land that has been a prayer site for more than 2,500 years.
Iriomote is like Okinawa's wild frontier. It is located near Ishigaki Island and the entire island is a national park. Iriomote is famous for its jungle-like terrain and rare species of flora and fauna. Its most famous inhabitant is the Iriomote Wildcat, which was discovered as a new species of cat endemic to Iriomote in the 1960's. There are many trekking courses that lead you to picturesque waterfalls, or you can join a kayaking tour and paddle through a mangrove forest. Definitely worth a visit!
Taketomi Island can be reached by ferry via Ishigaki. It is a tiny island with traditional Okinawan-style homes and a very laid-back atmosphere. Most people rent bikes and enjoy the day riding around the island's coral-sand streets. There are no big resorts, so accommodations are limited to small family-run hotels and cottages. There are also a few nice beaches on the island that are accessible by bike or foot.
During the winter months, the weather is nice when the sun comes out with mild temperatures that climb above 20 degrees centigrade. This is the perfect time to visit Motobu Peninsula and pick oranges. Farmers take you to a field and charge you a set fee to enter. Once inside, you can eat as many organges as you like. (This sounds like a bargain, but how many oranges can a person actually eat?) You pick your own oranges and then you are charged per kilo (much cheaper than the supermarket) for whatever you take home. A delicious way to spend an afternoon!
Okinawa's outer islands are a haven for Japanese beach lovers, snorkelers, and SCUBA divers, but they are seldom visited by non-Japanese. Some of the islands are very small with nothing to do except go to the beach, so if you are looking for nightlife, this may not be the ideal destination. However, if you want some peace and quiet, I recommend the Kerama Islands because of their beauty and close proximity to Naha City. The ferry only takes about 90 minutes to 2 hours, depending on what island you visit.
There is nothing like cooling off on a hot summer day by swimming at a waterfall. Northern Okinawa has several waterfalls, some are easy to get to while others require a bit of effort. Hiji waterfall - a 30 meter cascade of water - is one of the more popular treks with a nice wooden walkway that runs along and over the Hiji River. You can stop along the way and swim at a few different swim holes.
Part of the Hotel Nikko Chain. A decent high rise city hotel situated atop a hill, giving a nice...more
This hotel is a French all-inclusive-type of accommodations. You don't have to worry about meals or...more
I made a reservation aproximately one week in advance for a 3 day week end. I asked for a large room...more