Chances are, a lot of you have never really heard about the island of Okinawa. Neither had I! Of course, until coming to Japan and hearing all about it. Okinawa is an island off the south of Japan, known for its clear blue waters, and vibrant sea life. It's kind of like the "Hawaii" of Japan. While this island is part of the country of Japan, it feels like a whole different country. There's also a ton of American Military Bases on this island, which brings a kind of American influence on the culture in some places. There's so many fun things to do here, and you should definitely check it out next time you book a flight to Japan!
Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium:
The Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium is one of the biggest aquariums in the whole world! There's so many different fish and other sea life, with huge tanks and a super large layout. This is definitely one of the top tourist attractions on the island. I actually really love ocean life, and aquariums, so this was so much fun and I really really enjoyed it. But, even if you're not typically a fan of aquariums, you'll definitely be smiling and excited about this aquarium. There's so many different activities, and things to learn about sea life and the ocean. The most famous tank in this aquarium, is the biggest one that holds two whale sharks. Whale sharks are the largest shark, and worlds second largest fish. This is a huge deal!! And it's so amazing to watch these huge, elegant sharks swimming across the aquarium. After you finish walking through the aquarium, you go outside, and there's a dolphin show! Which made the whole trip even better.
Aquariums are an amazing way to promote the importance of the ocean, and taking care of our planet, especially the oceans. The ocean is so important to our world, and we wouldn't survive on Earth without it. But, it's in huge danger; species of sea life are dying at insanely high rates, coral reefs are becoming destroyed, and trash/plastic is taking over everything. It's so important that we all learn more about the ocean, and learn how we can protect and save the oceans. And aquariums are probably one of the best ways we can learn about it!
Kokusai Dori Street:
This street is another big attraction of Okinawa. This is a huge street located in Naha, full of shops, markets, restaurants, and so much more. It's always bustling with so many people, and there's so much to do. We spent so much time walking around this street, but it was so much fun and we always found something new to do. Like, looking at fun souvenirs and trying different foods. We were able to try the famous purple Okinawan sweet potato, which is actually really good! There's also Okinawan famous Blue Seal Ice Cream, which was amazing, of course. I definitely recommend checking it out!
Other Stuff To Do:
There's a lot more things to do in Okinawa as well. You can lounge at the beach, go on some hikes, find good shopping areas, and see the parks.
American Village: There's an shopping area, called the American Village, that we checked out. It's a huge outdoor mall, that's American themed. There's a ton of restaurants, shops, a movie theater, and even a ferris wheel. This was really fun, and really interesting to go to something "American Themed" while in another country.
Beaches: Of course, on an island, you have to check out the beaches. We were in Okinawa in early January, so the weather wasn't the best for the beach, but we still wanted to go. Whenever we could catch a sunny moment we would jump over to the nearest beach to check it out. It was nice to relax on the sand, and just watch the ocean. The beaches were really empty as well, it was almost like our own private beach. I definitely want to go back to Okinawa in the summer, and be able to snorkel, swim, and see how the water looks in the sun. It was beautiful when it was cloudy, so I can't even imagine how amazing it would be in the blue skies and sunshine.
Parks: Our trip to Okinawa was pretty chill. We didn't plan out every minute of everyday, so we could just hang out and relax, and see where we'd go. As a result of this, we spent a lot of time wandering around in little parks. I love going to parks, and parks in Japan are always so nice and have a really cool kinda vibe. The ones in Okinawa were really nice, and there was a lot of them too!
Friends: We made a ton of friends in Okinawa as well! So, we spent a lot of our time hanging out with them, in Nago. We spent a lot of time at this bar, where our friends worked. A lot of people from the military bases came to this bar, so we met a ton of Americans, and they even brought us to the military base one day. We got to walk around, explore, and see what daily life is like on the military bases in Okinawa. It was really fun! and totally different than I ever expected. Probably my favorite part about traveling to new places is meeting new people and making new friends.
Where We Stayed:
Our trip to Okinawa was kind of all over the place. We had spent two weeks in Thailand before going straight to Okinawa, so we totally forgot to plan anything. We just decided to plan as we go, and book our hotels and decide what to do the day of, or the day after. I don't really recommend doing this, as it could get expensive or stressful. But, we had friends there, and it wasn't a very big time for tourists, so everything worked out just fine.
We spend our first two days in an Airbnb near the American Village. I ended up being really sick these two days, and couldn't even leave the room. But, soon I was feeling better, and we headed to our next destination. We stayed at Hostel in the city, Naha. It was called Kumoji-So Hostel, which we found on Booking.com. Hostels are so much fun, and a good way to save money. It's basically a room with a ton of bunkbeds that you share with a bunch of people. It's a great way to meet people traveling as well. After spending two nights thereup to Nago to spend time with our friends. We stayed with them for two nights, and got our own Airbnb again for one night. After this we went back to Naha for one night, which we spent in a new hostel, and then caught our flight back to mainland Japan.
Okinawa is an amazing island. I'd never really heard of it too much, but after going, I definitely think it should be talked about more. I love Okinawa, and recommend it to everyone! So, next time you think about what you should do during your trip to Japan, don't forget about Okinawa!