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5 Things to Do in Okinawa: Explore Nature, History, and More!

By Adi Rumale Mar 14, 2023

On the lead single of her sun-worship, ocean-escape-themed album, Lorde sang, “and I throw my cellular device in the water / can you reach me / no / you can’t.” If you, too, are looking to escape the city’s hustle and bustle, there are plenty of things to do in Okinawa!

Things to Do in Okinawa – The Perfect Island Getaway 

Located in the south of Japan, Naha, Okinawa, is warm throughout the year. If you’re searching for seclusion and contemplation or a town to shop, eat, and collect souvenirs, Okinawa is the place for you. 

1. Cape Zanpa Lighthouse

Cape Zanpa, Okinawa

Image Credit: Canva.com 

This lighthouse feels like a scene from a movie. Surrounded by lush green shrubs, this location is a brilliant intersection of green and blue. Once you get to the lighthouse, you take a staircase up to the top. The climb is steep, and it is essential to be careful and slow here. The lighthouse offers a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean. The scene is picturesque: you watch the waves crash into the rocks and stare at the seemingly endless sea. The water is mystical; the sight is unforgettable. After visiting the lighthouse, you can spend a day at Zanpa Beach, which is ten minutes away from the lighthouse. 

Cape Zanpa Website 

Directions to Cape Zanpa 

2. Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium

Things to Do in Okinawa: visit an Aquarium

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Okinawa’s Churaumi Aquarium is a blue blur. Unlike the Island’s glorious beaches, this aquarium feels intimate. If you want to explore the essence of the Island, Churaumi Aquarium is where you need to be. The massive Aquarium breeds all of the Island’s sea creatures. This is where you can stop and see how genuinely fascinating the oceanic world is – different sea creatures maneuver in their saturated glory. The aquarium is well-planned, and each section is easy to navigate. All information is displayed in English for you to read. On visiting, you are made familiar with the wildlife and told compelling facts about them. The Island’s functioning is inextricably tied to the survival of the life forms. The most notable attraction is their ‘Kuroshio Sea’ display: a 700 m3 water tank for observing Whale Sharks and Manta Rays.

Churaumi Aquarium Website

Directions to Churaumi Aquarium

3. Shuri Castle 

Shuri Castle Gate

Image Credit: Canva.com 

Located on top of a hill, Shuri Castle is a red-brick wonder! Stone steps, green square gardens, and a 360° view of the city, Shuri Castle is central to Okinawa’s history. The castle’s architectural features combine Chinese and Japanese architectural styles. This world heritage site functioned as the living quarters and parliamentary place for the Ruku regime. Here you will find people dressed in Kimonos and Yukatas. The castle has souvenir shops and ice cream stalls. The artifacts are explained in Japanese and English. A stone balcony at the very top of the castle offers an excellent view of the city. You can also catch glimpses of the cyan sea. There are quite a few steps to climb, so a bottle of water and comfortable clothes are a must! 

Shuri Castle Website 

Directions to Shuri Castle 

4. American Village: Shop, Eat, Play

Shop at American Village

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From arcade games to cafes to restaurants, American Village has it all. You can shop for anything here: from stickers to shoes. Restaurants offer an excellent view of Sunset Beach. Local and American food is available here. American Village ismost easily recognized by the towering Ferris wheel at the entrance, which is beautifully lit up at night.” You can spend a few hours or an entire day here; both are just as fun. You will surely remember this place for its uncanny American atmosphere, right in the middle of Japan.  

American Village Website 

Directions to American Village 

5. Snorkeling at Blue Cave 

Things to Do in Okinawa: Snorkeling

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Snorkeling is a unique experience. To start, you take a boat to the cave and watch the water gradually turn into darker shades of blue: sea green to aquamarine to deep blue. Then, once you’re in the cave, the water is almost fluorescent and bright and radiates something holy. Swimming amid thousands of fish, watching oceanic plants sway, and spotting a seahorse will leave you with a new sense of appreciation for the planet. The instructor gives you food to feed the fish. They are friendly and flock toward you immediately. The instructors are well-trained and helpful; you do not have to be a swimming expert. You can sign up at local snorkeling establishments scattered throughout the city. If you are in Okinawa, do not miss out on this! 

Things to Do in Okinawa – Reflect, Learn, and Rejuvenate 

Choose from the various things to do in Okinawa, and plan your trip to this beautiful Island today! Full of aquamarine beaches and greenery, Okinawa is the ideal place to “breathe out, tune in” before returning to the fast-paced chaos of the city. 

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Featured Image Credit: Adi Rumale/Guidable Japan