Let’s try an Okinawa day trip from Tokyo!
A lot of my friends in Tokyo would love to enjoy the tropical atmosphere of Okinawa, but don’t necessarily have a lot of time to travel. Why not try a day trip then? Is that even possible? Based on some research and our own experiences traveling to Okinawa from Tokyo, we created this itinerary for the ultimate Okinawa day trip! The plan is to use Haneda Airport (which is more centrally located in Tokyo than far off Narita Airport) to fly to Naha Airport on the main island of Okinawa Prefecture. Let’s see what you can do in 1 day!
To get the most out of the day, take an early morning flight to Okinawa, leaving Haneda at 6:30 and arriving in Naha a bit after 9:00.
10:00 Late breakfast at Makishi Public Market
Since this is a day trip, there is no checked luggage, just a carry-on backpack. Disembark, rent a car at an airport rental agency, or alternately, take a taxi directly to Naha City. You probably didn’t eat since waking up this morning, so take the opportunity to have a fresh and delicious late breakfast at Makishi Public Market, an open-air smorgasbord of food options in the center of Naha.
Buy a fresh fish on the 1st floor of the market, and take it up to the 2nd floor to have it cooked. Why not try a colorful fish unique to Okinawa? If you already ate something on the airplane, have some cut fruits and freshly made juice.
Location: 2-10-1 Matsuo, Naha City, Okinawa Prefecture
Access: about 10 minutes by car from the airport; or about 10 minutes on foot from Miebashi Station monorail
Explore Kokusai Dori
Adjacent to Makishi Public Market is Kokusai Dori, the main street of Naha City. Always crowded with tourists and locals, there are a lot of interesting, individually-owned-and-run shops. Check out the souvenirs on offer to take back to your friends in Tokyo, or just people-watch in Japan’s only subtropical city.
Location: 3-2-10 Makishi, Naha City, Okinawa Prefecture, Naha Kokusai Dori Shopping Street
12:00 Treat yourself to traditional Okinawan culture at Okinawa World
This popular theme park is only 30 minutes by car from Kokusai Dori, so you can visit even if you are on a tight schedule. Within the large area equal to four Tokyo Domes, there are local Okinawa dance shows and folk crafts on offer, in an environment tailor-made to give you a fun Okinawa-themed experience.
Especially popular is Okinawa’s traditional dance “Eisa”. The dance, performed along with a big Japanese drum, is spectacular in person. Also fun are the lion dance and Angama dance, both performed daily.
Location: 1336 Tamakimaegawa, Nanjo City, Okinawa 901-0616
Access: about 30 minutes by car from Naha Airport; or take bus 83 for about 45 minutes from Naha Bus Center all the way to the last stop (Gyokusendō Chūshajō)
Business Hours: 9:00 to 18:00, every day
Recommended if you have a little spare time: Gyokusendo
But the most popular attraction in Okinawa World is Gyokusendo, one of the largest limestone caves in Japan, with over 1 million stalactites and 5 km of passageways. The inside of the cave is cool, which can be a nice break from the strong Okinawan sun and heat, so take this opportunity for a comfortable cool walk in amazing scenery.
14:00 Lunch at ocean-view Café Kurukuma
Okinawa is famous for its subtropical waters, so we recommend visiting Café Kurukuma to have a late lunch, while enjoying the beautiful emerald blue ocean view. About 20 minutes by car from Okinawa World, it fits perfectly into our itinerary.
This café serves authentic Thai food prepared by a Thai chef, with a variety of food and café options, as well as large portions. Try to grab a seat in the outdoor terrace, and enjoy the delicious food and beautiful view. There is also a nice garden area to explore.
Location: 1190 Chinen, Nanjo City, Okinawa 901-1513
Access; from airport via Sashiki-National Route 329 (for Yonabaru)-Prefectural Road 137/86-Tsukishiro Town-About 30km
Business Hours: October-March 10:00-19:00; April-September 10:00-20:00
15:30 Take a swim at Mibaru Beach!
Only 15 minutes by car from Kurukuma Café is Mibaru Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in Okinawa. Popular with locals, but somewhat less known among tourists, this is a great spot to enjoy the sea while avoiding large crowds. Equipped with shower and marine sports facilities, as well as a paid parking lot.
There is also a glass-bottom boat service departing regularly from Mibaru Beach, so you can take a look at the colorful tropical fish around Okinawa without getting wet. The boat trip is only about 20 minutes long, which makes it perfect for a tight schedule.
Location: 901-0603 Okinawa Prefecture Nanjo City Tamaki Hyakuna 1346 Mibaru beach
Access: about 50 minutes by car from Naha Airport
Recommended if you have a little spare time: secluded Oujima island
After taking a dip at Mibaru Beach, you’re probably working up an appetite again, so let’s head to Oujima Island for delicious tempura. This remote little island is connected to the main island by bridge, and is only about 10 minutes from Mibaru Beach by car. The famous fishery here has wonderful seafood and sweet potato tempura, freshly fried and with ocean views.
Location: 901-1400 Okinawa Prefecture, Nanjo City Tamaki Azaou 9
Access: about 40 minutes by car from Naha Airport; located right after crossing the Oujima Bridge
Business Hours: October-March 10:00-18:00; April-September 10:00-19:00
17:30 Early dinner at Umikaji Terrace
About 30 minutes drive from Oujima, near Naha City, is Umikaji Terrace, a collection of lovely shops, restaurants, and craft shops. If you didn’t already buy souvenirs, you can do so here, or just have an early dinner at one of the casual-gourmet restaurants.
One option is Cafe Kijima, specializing in taco rice. Inspired by Mexican-American tacos introduced through the US military presence, taco rice is one of the most famous casual dishes in Okinawa. I love the Omtacos here, which consist of eggs placed on top of taco rice, with all kinds of fillings like avocado, cheese and bacon.
Another option at Umikaji Terrace is Okinawan soba at Motobu. The soba with local green onions is a popular choice, as are soki cartilage soba, sea grape soba, and Okinawan cooked rice.
Location: 174-6 Senaga, Tomigusuku City, Okinawa 901-0233
Access: get off at Akamine Station on the Yui Rail Line; or about 25 minutes by car from Naha Airport
Business Hours: 10:00 - 21:00; *open until 22:00 during July, August and September
19:00 Enjoy a spectacular sunset from Senagajima
Alas, it’s time to start saying goodbye to Okinawa. But there’s one last stop before the airport. You are in Japan’s own subtropical paradise, so let’s visit a beautiful sunset spot. We recommend Senaga Beach, which is walkable from Umikaji Terrace.
If you’re like me, you want to keep looking at the beautiful Okinawan sunset forever, but the time for your return flight to Tokyo is approaching. You can either go back to the airport directly, or have one last quick fling on Kokusai Dori in nearby Naha City.
Location: Senaga Senagajima, Tomigusuku City, Okinawa 901-0233
20:00 Goodbye Okinawa!
Well it’s not goodbye, but see you again Okinawa! Why not have a local Orion beer at the airport while waiting for your flight? It was a fun but hard day! A local beer will help you relax and enjoy Okinawa one last time.
Now it’s finally time to go back to Tokyo. The flight to Haneda takes about 2 ½ hours, so you should still be able to catch the last trains or buses back home from Haneda. We hope you enjoyed your bullet trip to Okinawa!
If you can’t make it to Okinawa, and live outside of Japan, please check out our online shop Allegro Japan, where we sell famous Okinawan snacks, as well as hundreds and hundreds of different items from all over Japan, with free international shipping on every order. Thanks!