Sightseeing in Okinawa by car 車で沖縄巡り
Getting around Okinawa
In Okinawa, roads are the only means of connection inland and between the small islands. By car !
In Okinawa, it is possible to travel by bus, car and bicycle. A monorail allows you to move around the city center of the capital, Naha. But to get around the whole island, the car remains the best option.
Visit Okinawa: what to choose?
To visit Naha and the city center, the Yui monorail is more than enough. A dozen kilometers long, it serves the main tourist sites of the city from Naha airport. From its starting point to the terminus, Shuri, the journey is about thirty minutes. It is strongly recommended to travel by monorail if you go to Naha in the summer, which is the peak tourist season on the island. Indeed, not having a railway system, the main island of Okinawa is often the victim of traffic jams and parking prices are skyrocketing. Note: there are day tickets for the Yui monorail, 1 or 2 day(s).
To better explore Okinawa
For those who want to travel outside the capital , the car is the ideal means of transport: no time constraints, it is very practical when traveling in groups or with the family . Fast and economical, renting a car in Okinawa will allow you to explore places accessible only by road. For example, to reach Cape Hedo , in the very north of the island, the car journey will only take you about 2h30 from Naha airport.
On the roads of Okinawa
In Japan, as in England, people drive on the left. Getting to Nago in the north from Naha in the south takes about 2 hours via Highway 58 , and one hour via the expressway. Okinawa being devoid of trains, the traffic is all the more important on the roads: be careful not to drive on the lanes reserved for buses, which can however be used by taxis and two-wheelers. You would risk a fine ranging from 6,000 to 7,000 yen (45-50€). In order to avoid the crowds as much as possible, plan your stay outside national holiday periods such as Golden Week (late April-early May), Obon (mid-August) and autumn.
Things to see around Okinawa
The main tourist activities of Okinawa are in the south and the center of the island. Thus, Shuri Castle and the Peace Memorial are only 30 minutes from Naha Airport by car. Many UNESCO-listed relics and the Mihama American Village can be seen within an hour of Naha . Finally, two hours from the capital, enjoy the largest aquarium in Japan, Churaumi .
Read : What to see in central Okinawa
Apart from the most visited sites, enjoy the road and especially the typical landscape of Okinawa. Cape Manzamo , located about fifty kilometers from Naha, near the town of Onna, is known for its spectacular scenery and is a particularly popular place to watch the sunset.
The marine road, Kaichu road
Starting from Uruma in the center of the island, Kaichu-doro or Kaichu road, is a 5 kilometer open-air road crossing four different islands: Henza, Hamahiga, Miyagi and Ikei. Go to the last of them to take a short break by the sea, on Ikei beach. Free access , about an hour's drive from Naha.
Okinawa island hopping
Continue your walk north via the Kouri Bridge : this footbridge is one of the most popular spots during road trips around Okinawa and allows you to reach the islet of the same name. Getting around Kouri won't take you long – about 15 minutes at most – and entry is free . Travel time: about 2 hours from Naha, 20 minutes from Churaumi Aquarium.
Starting from Kouri, you will pass by Yagaji Island . Rather than coming back the same way, turn in the direction of Nakijin : you will find yourself on another bridge, Warumio . 315 meters long, it opened in 2010.
Follow Route 58 to the far north of the island, to Cape Hedo . From the coast, you will have a breathtaking view of the waves of the Pacific Ocean and the China Sea crashing against the cliffs. On a clear day, it is possible to see Yoron and Okinoerabu islands . The cape is also part of the Okinawa Kaigan Quasi-National Park.
Address, timetable & access