Have you ever thought of going to Okinawa in the chilly month of November? Okinawa is a popular destination for a lot of people intending to do water-related activities, particularly in the scorching heat of summer. You may wonder, what this wondrous tropical-like island has to offer before the start of winter. This article will delve into countless places and to-do things once you visit Okinawa.
Autumn Adventures in Okinawa
Before you visit Okinawa, make sure to do your research especially if you have prepared an itinerary beforehand. Transportation is not as advanced as it is in Tokyo and other Japanese prefectures, with buses being the primary choice of travel. Buses can be late and the last trip is usually scheduled at 9:30-10:00 PM. Taxis are also scarce in some locations so be mindful that your itinerary coincides with the bus schedules.
The weather can be quite warm in the daytime but quickly gets colder in the evenings so it is advisable to have your jacket ready if you plan to be out and about until the cold evening.
Okinawa Shuri Castle
Formerly a palace of the Ryuku Kingdom, it has since been transformed into a university campus with areas opened up as tourist destinations. It is currently under renovation but is still open for visitors who would like to catch a glimpse of the renovation. The castle boasts a beautiful traditional style façade painted primarily in red and has souvenir shops, a ventilated resting area, and several mazes. Once you reach the top of the observatory, you will be greeted with a breathtaking view overlooking Okinawa stretching to the coast. It is quite a climb with tons of steps leading to the main entrance and the peak, so wear comfortable shoes if you are planning to visit.
It is no secret that Okinawa has an American base and with some areas having a somewhat very Western vibe with American shops and restaurants found in a lot of areas. The American Village is a huge American-inspired attraction in Chatan and is presently very much decorated with Christmas lights and Santa Claus statues in every corner. Several American, Mexican, and Korean restaurants in the vicinity will make your mouth water. There are also attractions such as the familiar Ferris wheel that sits prominently in a widely visible area of the village. The streets give you a taste of the Stateside and are a must-see if you are in Okinawa.
Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium
Your trip to Okinawa will not be complete if you skip this from your sightseeing list. It is one of the most sought-after places for tourists as it has an array of sea creatures and fish of different variations and depths where they reside. It is also famous for the gigantic but harmless Whale Shark which you could get a clear view of in their large aquarium tank. They have manta rays, clownfish, sea snakes, turtles, and so on. There is also a dolphin show about 3 times a day and a separate dome for Manatees.
Tickets can be bought online as well as at the venue as well. The ticket price is around 2,180 yen and includes the Dolphin Shows and a full tour of the facility.
Okinawa World is a must-see theme park as it prides itself on having a massive almost 1-hour-long natural cave that runs within the vicinity of the attraction. Gyokusendō Limestone Cave is an all-natural cave that has been in existence for over 300,000 years and is a true testament to the wonders of nature.
The theme park also has a whole Reptile Section where you can take pictures with a non-venomous snake as well as several displays of both live and preserved snake parts. There is also a traditional performance called eisa depicting the Okinawan Ryuku culture with dances and drums and interesting theater performances. Keep in mind that taking pictures or recording the event is not allowed. Admission costs 2,000 yen for adults and 1,000 yen for children.
Parasailing and Scuba Diving
Your trip will not be complete without doing any of the water-related activities since; after all, you are in Okinawa! There are several places offering activities such as parasailing, scuba diving, snorkeling, banana-boat riding, and more all across Okinawa. There are many locations such as Sesoko Island, Nago, and some are close to Naha.
I strongly recommend spending at least a day doing these activities since the coral reef and the beauty of the Okinawan ocean are just stunning!
The good thing about being in Okinawa is that a lot of the locals have a basic grasp of English and most can communicate well enough to foreigners, even bus drivers or convenience store workers. The instructions for these activities will mostly be given in both English and Japanese and the staff will try to assist you in any way they can.
There are horse ranches located in Uruma, Onna, and Yomitan. The Okinawa Horse Riding Club in Yomitan has one of the nicest staff workers who speak conversational English and are very lively and accommodating. The horses are very friendly as well and follow instructions quite well. There are 5, 25, and 60-minute courses wherein customers can take routes with the ranch staff depending on their course with the cheapest being around 5,000 yen. You don’t need to be an expert and beginners are fairly welcome to join and have fun with the majestic beings. It was an unforgettable experience indeed.
Not far from the ranch is a go-kart center that accepts riders with the youngest being elementary school students. The track is spacious enough and each rider takes about 10 minutes in total. The go-kart company has single and 2-seater cars available for first-timers and seasoned drivers. If you would like to experience go-karting in Okinawa, then you won’t regret it!
Oki-escape is an escape room located in Aeon Mall Okinawa Rycom. This is a 60-minute adventure that allows you to solve rules so you can get to the next level and escape each part of the room. They have different themes that you can choose from. The prices can vary and you can play as a group, a family, or a couple. The staff gives you hints in case you get stuck and unable to find your way out and a perk is that you only need to pay 1,000 yen for your next game.
These are only a few of the adventures you could choose to partake in Okinawa if you happen to go during the low season starting in October. Okinawa is truly a wonderful place to visit and in many ways, have very unique qualities you would not normally find in other parts of Japan as it continues to maintain its Ryuku heritage. If you aren’t sure whether to visit Okinawa now that we are approaching the winter season, then make sure to check out this list and see if any appeal to you. Go ahead and have fun in Okinawa!