10 Best Spots For First Time Visitors to Okinawa Main Island

27 April 2023

This article is brought to you by Klook. 

Explore the best spots on the main island of Okinawa!

Photo credit: Skaterlunatic

One of the most popular tourist destinations in Japan is the tropical island of Okinawa. There are many charming traits that are unique to Okinawa, such as its abundance of nature and the distinct culture that has been shaped by its own history and geography.

Above all, the main island of Okinawa is dotted with various sightseeing spots. If it's your first time visiting this tropical island, you'll definitely want to drop by the go-to renowned spots first. Keep reading as we introduce the top places to visit for first-time visitors in Okinawa!

Why you should visit Okinawa Main Island 🏝

The main island of Okinawa is the perfect tourist destination in Japan for those of you who want to have a fun time, those of you who want a laid-back, leisurely time, as well as those of you who want to enjoy the best of both.

Here, you can take part in activities where you can immerse yourself in nature or experience the craft and art that are unique to Okinawa. Staying at a beach resort and spending time by the ocean as you watch the sunset is also a pretty good idea. We also highly recommend indulging in the food and shopping opportunities here!

If you want to fully enjoy your first-ever trip to Okinawa, it's a must to visit the popular sightseeing spots that may interest you. Be sure to also check Klook first to get the best travel deals and passes on Okinawa activities and tours!

Note: Prices mentioned in this article are accurate at the time that this article is published. For updated pricing that is accurate to the currency rate, do refer to the respective Klook activity pages!

10 best spots in Okinawa for first-time visitors 🗺

Whether you are traveling with your family, partner, or a group of friends, we have selected places and attractions that we believe embody the authentic Okinawa experience. Here are the top recommended spots for first-time visitors on Okinawa Main Island, divided into the Northern, Central, and Southern regions of the island:

Northern Okinawa region

Known for its beautiful beaches and forests, the northern region of the island is where you can fully enjoy the great nature of Okinawa. If you have time to spare, we also recommend trekking through the Yanbaru National Park or hiking up Mount Yonaha.

1. Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium in Ocean Expo Park

Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium

The Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium is a popular attraction in Ocean Expo Park. The highlight here is the gigantic aquarium, where you can spot majestic manta rays and an 8.8-meter long whale shark swimming gracefully. Here, you'll also get to admire the coral reefs, beautiful tropical fish, and the deep sea creatures from the oceans of Okinawa up close. The charm of this location is that it makes you feel as if you were in the ocean itself.

We recommend purchasing your tickets for the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium in advance. The following is the ticket price list:

Ticket typePrice on Klook
Adult (16 years & above)USD 16.25
Child (6-15 years old)USD 5.15


Exploring the entire aquarium will take about 2 hours. If you have extra time to spare, do drop by the other attractions within the Ocean Expo Park! Aside from free tours of the Sea Turtle Museum and the dolphin show, there are also local villages and beautiful beaches nearby that you can visit.

📍 How to get here:

Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium

  • 424 Ishikawa, Motobu-cho, Kunigami-gun, Okinawa 905-0206
  • About a 2-hour car ride from Naha Airport
  • Click here for Google Maps

2. Kouri Island

Kouri Bridge opened in 2005, officially granting visitors access to the remote Kouri Island, now reachable by car from the main island of Okinawa. Although it is a small island, this popular tourist spot boasts blue ocean waters with the highest transparency in the prefecture. The gem of a spot makes it famous for road trips - the exceptional view you get while driving here will make you forget you are even in Japan.

Photo credit: Skaterlunatic

The 'Heart Rock' located along Tinu Beach on the north side of the island is also a must-visit spot here, especially for couples. There are three different heart-shaped rocks here, so do look out for them!

You can also enjoy a view from 82 meters above sea level at the observation deck of the Ocean Tower on Kouri Island. We also recommend purchasing your tickets for the Kouri Ocean Tower Observation Deck in advance.

📍 How to get here:

Kouri Ocean Tower

  • 538 Kouri, Nakijin Village, Kunigami District, Okinawa Prefecture 905-0406
  • About a 30-minute car ride from Churaumi Aquarium
  • Click here for Google Maps

3. Manzamo

Manzamo

Visit Onna Village in Northern Okinawa, the best resort area there is here, and head to the famous scenic spot known as Manzamo. Known for its precipitous coral cliffs formed by the erosion of the Ryuku limestone, this iconic location symbolizes the strength of nature.

The dramatic cliffs may be known for their scenic views of the East China Sea, but it is the natural vegetation covering the top of the cliffs that have earned Manzamo its designation as a natural monument of the Okinawa prefecture. Beautiful blue rock-eared bulbuls are also commonly sighted here. You can also enjoy a wonderful view from Cape Manzamo on any sunny day, but we also recommend coming here to catch the sunset!

📍 How to get here:

Manzamo

  • 904-0411 Onna, Onna Village, Kunigami District, Okinawa Prefecture
  • About a 1-hour car ride from Naha Airport or Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium
  • Click here for Google Maps

Central Okinawa region

The cultures of Okinawa and America merge in the central region of the island. This area is also home to the World Heritage Sites of Zakimi Castle, Katsuren Castle, and Nakagusuku Castle. The sight of these castles of the Ryukyu Kingdom are marvels of their own, but we also recommend learning more about the history of the kingdom!

4. Southeast Botanical Gardens

A must-visit in Central Okinawa is the enchanting Southeast Botanical Garden. Here, you'll discover many plants that are unique to only tropical countries, and get the chance to interact with animals that are rarely seen on the mainland.

Don't miss out on the 25-meter tall Yuthura palm tree-lined road, as well as the beautiful flowers that bloom here all year round. Regardless of the season, you can rest assured it's all tropical vibes in here. Depending on the time of the year, there will also be a night illumination of the gardens, a must-see event that has even been certified as a nighttime heritage activity in Japan.

Be sure to book discounted admission tickets into the gardens on Klook before your visit!

Ticket type
Price on Klook
Adult (18 years & above)USD 10.29
Youth (13 - 17 years old)USD 6.99
Child (4 - 12 years old)USD 4.05


  • Daytime admission: 9:30 - 17:00 daily
  • Night illumination: 17:00 - 22:00 daily [ongoing until 28 May 2023]

📍 How to get here:

Southeast Botanical Gardens (Chura Yashi Park Okinawa)

  • About a 1-hour car ride from Naha Airport, a 30-minute car ride from Manzamo, a 30-minute car ride from Mihama American Village
  • 2146 Chibana, Okinawa City, Okinawa Prefecture 904-2143
  • Click here for Google Maps

5. Mihama American Village

Mihama American Village

Mihama American Village is located close to the Kadena Air Base and gives off an American atmosphere. The huge grounds are lined with shops and restaurants, making it a lively spot no matter when you visit.

You can spend the whole day here shopping for authentic Okinawa souvenirs and enjoying Okinawan gourmet food. We also recommend catching the superb sunset view from Sunset Beach here, so if you have the time to drop by, do it!

The iconic Ferris wheel of Carnical Park Mihama, which has been a landmark of Mihama since its opening, has been dismantled in September 2022. A hotel is scheduled to be built on the site in its place.

📍 How to get here:

Mihama American Village

  • 904-0115 Mihama, Chatan Town, Nakagami District, Okinawa Prefecture
  • About a 40-minute car ride from Naha Airport
  • Click here for Google Maps

Southern Okinawa region

Head south to where most of the tourist attractions are located. You can also find the Naha Airport and Sefa-utaki, which are World Heritage sites, in this region.

6. Shuri Castle ruins

The symbol of Okinawa is Shuri Castle, the largest building in the Ryukyu Kingdom. In October 2019, nine facilities, including the Seiden, were destroyed by fire, but efforts are underway to rebuild them and are scheduled to be completed by 2026. Currently, the reconstruction process is open to the public, so you can drop by to have a look at the current ruins of Shuri Castle.

The Shuri Castle Park is also dotted with valuable cultural assets. The famous Shureimon Gate and the World Heritage Sonohyan Utaki Stone Gate are also worth seeing here. This is a spot you would want to visit in order to support the rebuilding of Shuri Castle.

📍 How to get here:

Shuri Castle

  • 1-2 Shuri Kinjocho, Naha City, Okinawa Prefecture 903-0815
  • About a 40 to 60-minute car ride from Naha Airport, or a 15-minute walk from Shuri Station via Yui Rail
  • Click here for Google Maps

7. Kokusai Street

Photo credit: Kokusai Street official website

Okinawan food at Kokusai Street

Kokusai Street is the busiest go-to spot in Okinawa, a shopping street that stretches across 1 mile. The Naha Airport is also pretty nearby, a 15-minute ride via Yui Rail. In fact, many people would buy souvenirs here on the last day of their trip, as well as a last chance to enjoy various Okinawan food.

You can also find fashionable shops along the back streets, so do head back and take a look if you're interested. If you have time, we also recommend visiting the First Makishi Public Market, just a short walk away! There are rows and rows of ingredients unique to Okinawa here.

Klook tip: We highly recommend visiting the Sakaemachi Market located in the area called Asato on the East side of Kokusai Street. During the day, it is a go-to market for locals, but at night, it transforms into a hidden bar district with a Showa atmosphere!

With shops of all sizes lined up here, you will definitely want to visit as many as you can here, from standing bars, to exquisite izakayas. Our personal pick would be Iurinron, a gyoza restaurant that always has a line, and Kushiyaki Adan Main Store, where you can enjoy a wide variety of vegetable skewers!

📍 How to get here:

First Makishi Public Market

  • Naha City, Okinawa Prefecture
  • About a 15-minute car ride from Naha Airport, or a 5-minute walk from the Kencho-mae stop via Yui Rail
  • Click here for Google Maps

8. DMM Kariyushi Aquarium

Recently opened in 2020, the new DMM Kariyushi Aquarium in Okinawa is where you can meet not only fish, but also penguins, small-clawed otters, and even land animals! You can look forward to the splendor of visual expressions and spatial production that adds to the experience of enjoying this entertainment aquarium.

Their reimagination of the forest and the coastline in the aquarium is very lifelike, and there is also a pretty cool virtual image displayed that makes you feel as if a giant creature is swimming right in front of you.

To explore everything here, it will take about 2 hours. We recommend purchasing your tickets in advance, as you'll get to enjoy direct entry benefits!

Ticket type
Price on Klook
Adult (18 years & above)USD 17.85
Youth (13 - 17 years old)

USD 14.89


📍 How to get here:

DMM Kariyushi Aquarium

  • 3-35 Toyosaki, Tomigusuku City, Okinawa Prefecture 901-0225
  • About a 20-minute car ride from Naha Airport
  • Click here for Google Maps

9. Peace Memorial Park

The Peace Memorial Park is one of the spots you should definitely visit on your first trip to Okinawa. The grounds are vast and the park is crowded with families having picnics on the weekends.

Here stands the Peace Memorial Museum, which conveys the tragedy of war, the inscription of the Cornerstone of Peace, as well as the Peace Memorial Hall, which was built for visitors to gather and pray for world peace.

At the southern part of the park is an area where you can find remnants of past battles, such as the Himeyuri Tower and Kyan Cape. These are spots that you will want to visit with a prayer in mind for the resting of the passed souls, reminding you of the importance of life and the preciousness of peace.

📍 How to get here:

Peace Memorial Park

  • 444 Mabuni, Itoman City, Okinawa Prefecture 901-0333
  • About a 30-minute car ride from Naha Airport
  • Click here for Google Maps

10. Okinawa World

Photo credit: Timo Volz

At Okinawa World, there is so much to see and do, including the chance to learn more about Okinawan culture, experience their crafts, watch an Eisa show, and explore a limestone cave.

In the area that is a replica of the castles of Ryukyu Kingdom, you can learn about the townscape of that period, from the red roof tiles, Shisa, and masonry. Here is also where you can find Japan's largest limestone cave, Gyokusendo, which spans across a total length of 5 kilometers, part of which is open to the public to explore.

To fully experience Okinawa World, it would take about 3 hours or more. This is a spot that you will definitely want to add to your trip itinerary to create the best memories of your first visit to Okinawa. Better yet, get a discounted ticket on Klook that includes a craft experience to enjoy your time here even more!

Ticket type
Price on Klook
Adult (admission to Cave, Kingdom Village & Habu Museum)
USD 14.15
Child (admission to Cave, Kingdom Village & Habu Museum)
USD 7.09
Adult (admission to Cave, Kingdom Village & craft workshop of choice)
USD 23.85
Child (admission to Cave, Kingdom Village & craft workshop of choice)
USD 16.75


How to travel around Okinawa Main Island

If you are visiting Okinawa for the first time, we also recommend going on a bus tour! For those of you who want to take your time to sit back and enjoy the scenery of this beautiful island, book a 1-day bus tour on Klook that allows you to fully enjoy the best sights in a day!

Prefer to drive? You can book a car rental in Okinawa too, with pick-up and drop-off at Naha Airport!

Heading to Okinawa Island for a holiday soon? Did you know that you can get up to 3.5% cashback on your bookings on Klook? Click here and start planning your holidays with Klook now!

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