Our Okinawa Travel Essentials include all of the important facts you need to know to make the most out of your holiday to this Japanese island prefecture. We will examine aspects of the island like climate, travel seasons, power outlet types, currency and emergency phone numbers. You will also learn some of the best ways to get to your hotel and how to travel around the island as a whole.

With so many things to see and do in Okinawa, this guide strives to clue you in on some of the most popular attractions and events you won't want to miss out on. Plus, you will learn about the main towns and villages in the prefecture. This handy guide is your key to enjoying an unforgettable holiday in Okinawa.

  • What are the main towns and villages around Okinawa?

    What are the main towns and villages around Okinawa?

    Okinawa is a collection of islands, though most of the iconic towns and villages are on the main island. When you visit, you'll find a variety of opportunities to explore the communities all while enjoying the iconic Okinawan sun.


    Naha is the capital city of Okinawa and serves as the prefecture's political, educational and economic centre. In that sense, not much has changed over the centuries, as it served the same purpose for the Ryukyu Kingdom. Several historical sites are present throughout the city including Shuri Castle, and you may want to check out local festivals like Naha Hari and the Naha Festival. Being a coastal city, the natural features are especially alluring as well, including the Lake Man wetlands with their mangrove woods.

    Okinawa City

    Okinawa City is one of the most populous cities in the prefecture it's named after, and it contains a rather unique culture that not only preserves Ryukyu roots but also has a notably American flavour thanks to the concentration of US military bases. The city comes from 2 towns that were merged together, Koza and Misato. While Misato was relatively quiet, Koza was known for its exciting nightlife, and that persists in modern-day Okinawa City. Additionally, the music here is notably different from typical Japanese music, sporting what's known as an oriental reggae sound.


    The city of Uruma is a great destination to visit in Okinawa if you're looking for a little bit of everything. Officially formed in 2005, this city is the result of 4 different municipalities merging together, so different areas of the new town have different offerings. In the Gushikawa area, for example, the city boasts massive shopping malls. If you're more interested in Okinawa's natural features, Uruma offers a convenient causeway to nearby islands where unspoiled beaches and fields await.


    Urasoe is a bustling college town with offerings typically catered towards younger crowds like students. For travellers, that means plenty of delicious restaurants and fun shopping opportunities where appealing items are available at rates that typically won't break the bank. The sweet shops are especially popular, though you'll find restaurants of all kinds including American restaurants influenced by US bases in the area. You can easily visit this city along with Naha as the cities are connected by Okinawa's monorail system.

  • When is the best time to travel to Okinawa?

    When is the best time to travel to Okinawa?
    • Okinawa is fairly comfortable all year long, with relatively hot summers and cool but comfortable winters.
    • May, June and August are fairly rainy, with May in particular seeing around 27.2 centimetres on average, and a daily 37% chance of rain throughout the month.
    • The warmest months in this prefecture are July through September, with highs around 31.7 degrees Celsius in July.
    • Spring is generally the best time of year to visit with comfortable temperatures and only somewhat common rain. If you want to get away from the crowds, however, autumn and winter can work if you avoid the rain.
  • Okinawa basics

    Okinawa basics
    • Plug type: Okinawa uses Type A and Type I outlets with the occasional use of Type B outlets, which are basically Type A with a third prong.
    • Electricity: Outlets in Okinawa are 100V at a standard frequency of 60 Hz.
    • Currency: The currency here is the Japanese yen.
    • International dialling code: The international dialling code in Okinawa and all of Japan is +81.
    • Emergency telephone number: In emergency situations, call 110 for the police, 118 for the coast guard and 119 for fire or ambulance.
  • How to get to my hotel in Okinawa?

    How to get to my hotel in Okinawa?

    Okinawa is an island, so the only way you're getting here is on a ferry or a plane. Fortunately, both are readily available whether you're coming in from the Japanese mainland or another country. Travellers from Europe likely will have to fly into mainland Japan first.


    Flying into Okinawa will have you arriving at Naha Airport, which is located in the island's main city. Several airports across the country have connecting flights here, including several airports in Tokyo and Osaka, and you'll probably be stopping at one of them first if travelling from Europe.

    Major train stations

    There are no major train stations in Okinawa that can get you in from outside the island. The only ways to get in are by plane or ferry.


    The port in Naha is the major entry point into Okinawa, and you can catch a ferry to the city and the main island of Okinawa along the A Line that departs from the city of Kagoshima.

  • How to get around Okinawa?

    How to get around Okinawa?

    Travel tips

    Getting around Okinawa depends on where you need to go. If you're simply trying to enjoy the main island, you'll find a comprehensive bus network along with a monorail system and plenty of taxis. If you want to check out some of the more remote islands, you can hire a car and take ferries to explore islands off the beaten path.

    Underground system

    While there is no underground in Okinawa, you will find a rail transport system in the cities of Naha and Urasoe. This is the only public rail system in the prefecture, stretching from the Naha Airport station to the Tedako-Uranishi station in Urasoe.

    Taxi and rideshare apps

    Taxis are readily available in major cities like Naha, Urasoe and Nago. They become harder to find the more you head out to the smaller islands, so make sure that wherever you're going has taxis available if you're counting on them to get you back to your hotel at the end of the day. Rideshare apps are available in Okinawa. Uber isn't available, but you can opt for alternatives like JapanTaxi and DiDi Rider.

    Bus network

    Okinawa has a comprehensive bus network on its main island that can get you from the airport to virtually anywhere you need to go. If you're travelling to some of the smaller islands, however, bus availability can vary, so always check when planning a visit to one of the hundred smaller islands. Local buses offer special passes that could offer savings if you plan to ride the bus a lot. Available passes include limited-area passes for regions like Naha along with passes that are good for the entire main island.

    Car hire

    Car hire is available throughout Okinawa, and they're among the best ways to travel among the islands. All you need is a driver's licence and an international driving permit, which must be acquired before you get to Japan. Additionally, you must be at least 18 years old to hire a car.

    Bicycle hire

    Bike hire is fairly easy to find throughout the main island, and the Hello Cycling bike-share system is your best bet if you find yourself near Naha. With this system, you can take a bike and leave it at the station closest to your destination, and it can all be booked online in advance.

  • What are the main annual events in Okinawa?

    What are the main annual events in Okinawa?

    Okinawa Zento Eisa Festival

    • When: Late August
    • What: The Okinawa Zento Eisa Festival is a fun event to close out the summer where visitors can enjoy dancing and celebrations in honour of ancestors returning to the world of the living during the obon holiday. Dances are held with traditional styles and Ryukyuan dress along with taiko drums.
    • Where: Okinawa City Koza Sports Park

    Naha Hari Dragon Boat Races

    • When: May
    • What: This event features a series of races during the Golden Week in May in which participants race each other in dragon boats, which are massive longboats holding dozens of rowers with dragon and fire designs painted on the side in bright colours.
    • Where: Naha Port

    Naha Tug-of-War / Naha Otsunahiki

    • When: Mid October
    • What: Naha Otsunahiki is the ultimate rope-pulling challenge in which massive teams compete to see who can pull it their way the farthest after 30 minutes or after crossing a certain distance. Winners are allowed to take a piece of the rope home with them as a souvenir.
    • Where: Onoyama Sports Park
  • What are the main landmarks in Okinawa?

    What are the main landmarks in Okinawa?

    Shurijo Castle

    Shurijo Castle is a historic stone wall castle built in the Ryukyuan style that, intentionally or not, showcases the resilience of local culture. Not only was it nearly destroyed in the Battle of Okinawa, but it was also nearly destroyed as recently as 2019 due to a fire. As a World Heritage Site, however, preservation efforts are constantly ongoing.

    Cape Manzamo

    Cape Manzamo is a rock formation along the coast near Onna Village with a name that translates to 'a field for 10,000 people to sit'. Visiting this rock structure allows you to take in scenic views of the surrounding landscapes and the vast water of the East China Sea. Given that it faces west, it's a popular destination for travellers looking to catch a picturesque sunset.


    Gyokusendo is a massive cave that's home to stunning rock formations that were sculpted by natural forces over countless years. Inside, you'll gaze upon staggering stalactites and stalagmites along with odd blue waters and twisting pathways. It maintains a cool 21 degrees all year long, serving as a comfortable reprieve from the Okinawan heat.


    Sefa-Utaki, or the 'purified place of Utaki', is a sacred spot for the Ryukyuan people and their native religion. It's a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site and consists mainly of a massive rock face leaning against another large rock structure creating a triangle-shaped opening that leads to stunning views of Kudaka Island.