Okinawa is commonly referred to as the Hawaii of Japan, and for those of you planning your next summer getaway, this could be the perfect destination for a fun-fulled summer. It slightly differs to the main Island of Japan and has a very vibrant, rich, and deep culture, with loads of fascinating things to see and try that can only be found here. There is the aphrodisiacal snake sake, the creamy and delicious Blue Seal ice-cream, and beautiful Hotaru glass of Okinawa that reflect the endless blue colors of Van Gogh’s Starry Night. More details on the things you should try and buy during your stay can be found here. Because this is a tropical oasis surrounded by the crystal clear blue ocean, most of their activities are out on the open sea!
Our team made a video documenting their stay in Okinawa, so check it out here to get an idea of what kinds of activities you can try on your visit!
For a worry-free trip, it is smart to book these activities in advance, and according to where are currently staying. While these tours do run throughout the day, there may not be availability for those who show up without a reservation. For visitors staying in Naha, the common meeting area for a tour is in Miegusuku Port. Please check with the tour group or website for information on the restrictions and details. If all this information is overwhelming, the easiest thing to do would be to ask the front desk, as some tours made through the hotel can pick you up right there!(provided they speak English of course)
Here are a few things that you can do to enjoy during your stay, with links (on their location) below each activity to where you can book a reservation.
Parasailing is an activity where the person has a parachute kite attached to them while they are transported away from the shore and into the sea. When you reach the destination, the experienced crew will lead you towards the back of the boat and that is where you will jump off. Instead of sinking into the ocean, the wind will carry you up into the air, and sometimes (if you ask for it), as you descend, they will pull you along the surface of the water, submerging your feat in sea! There are many places in Okinawa you can go to to experience this, and most places cost around 7000yen to 10000yen ($70-$100). You will be able to choose how many people you want to fly with and how high you want to go as well. This is not something you want to miss out on during your trip!
- Naha: This is the tour that I chose when I went to Okinawa last time. Their website is easy and english friendly, with different courses to choose from. The staff and crew were so nice, and even took my picture on their phone while I was flying and sent it to me after!
- Nago: This tour requires everyone to be 15 minutes early and has a detailed description of their schedule so you can get a clear idea of what you are getting yourself into.
- Motobu: On this page, you can choose package deals of other sports as well. It is definitely a good way to save money compared to booking each activity individually.
Kiteboarding is an extreme sport in which you are standing on a surfboard like apparatus and holding a big sail that is high up in the sky that drags you along the water at incredible speeds. When done professionally, it looks incredible and super cool from far away! Experienced instructors will help you learn quickly and safely so that you can experience this awesome water-sport for yourself.
- Miyakojima: This is a beginners course that will teach the the basics of the sport. Book with 3 or more people for a discounted plan!
- Onna: One of the best tours for extreme sports in Okinawa, Tropical Surf House has amazing reviews and experienced teachers for beginners of kiteboarding.
Water Jet Pack / Hover-board
Have you seen videos of people on a water jet pack? Maybe when the invention first came out and was in the experimental phase a few years ago, but now, the advanced technology and accessibility of the sport is nothing like the old videos. This is a must try for anyone who meets the age and weight requirements! Each venue will have different requirements and restrictions, so be sure to check that before booking.
- Naha: For those located in Naha, you can book through Marine Owl Shop, but note that this is a Japanese group so to translate it, open the webpage in Chrome.
- Nago: This is a beginners course with a detailed description of what to expect before your scheduled tour.
- Motobu: This page has all of the activities you could ever dream of participating in all located in Motobu.
Snorkeling in Okinawa is a singular experience that will leave a lasting impression. The crystal clear waters give you an open view of the sea life in the ocean, from colorful little fish, to the majestic sea turtles. Unlike scuba diving, this is an activity that beginners can enjoy and learn very quickly. This is a good guideline on the basics of what you need to do. You can choose the kind of experience you want, from the location to the kinds of fish that you want to see!
- Naha: This new tour is located in the Naha Seaside Park, so alongside snorkeling you get to enjoy all of the other activities that the park offers!
- Onna: This tour is one of the most popular ones in Okinawa, and is located in Onna's famous blue caves. 💙
- Isigaki: This unique tour allows you to snorkel at night under the starry sky!
- Kerama: This is a full-day tour for those who are beginners at snorkeling and diving, so get plenty of rest before the big day!
One of my favorite water activities, the jet ski is like the motorcycle of the sea! Feel the wind in your hair as you zoom across the waves at lighting speed! In this sport, you control your own vehicle, so I suggest you start slow to get the hang of it, and then once you feel comfortable, increase the speed. If you go too fast though, there is a chance you will fall in the water, but don’t worry, because you will have a life vest on you! If you are coming with a friend you can challenge them to a friendly race, or just ski together and enjoy the marvelous view. Most of the packages that include jet skiing have many other activities with it; double or triple the fun!
- Motobu: Enjoy a banana boat and a float tow along with your jet ski! This package tour is great for those who are traveling with friends!
- Nago: For one hour, enjoy unlimited play of 6 different types of water sports for your whole group! This is a definite steal for the price! The site in in Japanese so be sure to translate it.
- Onna: This 3 hour package lets you rent a jet ski and the rest is up to you! Listen closely to their safety and precautions demonstration before you ride.
Jet Boating is like jet skiing, but faster and with more people. This is a wonderful experience to share with others and a great way to make new friends as well. It's is an activity that can help preserve your strength, for those who are exhausted from action-packed day before and is relaxing and exciting at the same time.
- Nago: This tour includes parasailing, but is a Japanese group, so translate the page to understand before you book.
- Ginowan: Klook offers an easy to understand website with detailed instructions before your activity.
- Minnajima: Along with jet boating, they also offer snorkeling and parasailing!
Explore local caves
This activity is as romantic and beautiful as it sounds. Each cave has a history and atmosphere of its own. It is like stepping from your normal life to a fantastical other world. An activity that is perfect for friends and family, and the perfect date spot, its an experience you likely won’t forget.
- Blue Cave: The most famous cave in all of Okinawa to explore is located here. Ways to get there are through snorkeling and diving, pretty extreme right? It's well worth it.
- World Culture Kingdom: This is located in a theme park and is a full day pass that allows you to explore the cave as well as participate in their arts and crafts at your own pace.
- Hoshino Cave: There are a number of limestone caves in Okinawa, but this is definitely one of the prettiest.
Explore under the surface and get closer than ever to the precious marine life of Okinawa! You will be on a boat that will usually include lunch, and the deck below will have clear windows to view the ocean. There are many options you can choose from for the type of cruises that Okinawa offers. This is perfect for families who cannot participate in the extreme sports, and a great learning experience for children as well.
- Naha: This activity is for all ages and is a safe bet for a fun filled day with the family! The Orca is a boat that is used mainly for this underwater activity. They are one of the only boats that operate this kind of tour.
- Busena Marine Park: This a glass bottom boat tour, where you can view all the marine life that are swimming below you!
Kayaking is like a private cruise that is romantic, scenic, and peaceful. It is the perfect way to spend an afternoon, and is also my #1 favorite water sport. Depending on when you choose to go, the experience is completely different. At dawn, watch the orange and red sky emerging from the cold night sky as the sun rises for the perfect start to the rest of your day. During the day, kayaking can be the best way to fend off the heat and also get some exercise in. Race with a friend, or just take a second to yourself and see how far you can go! At night, the beautiful blue sky will turn dark, revealing the sparkling stars underneath to truly take your breath away.
- Onna: This kayak tour will be in crystal clear waters and has options for family plans and stopping at Yadokari Island.
- Higashi: Enjoy this tour across the mangrove river in Okinawa for a fully immersive kayaking experience.
- Yomitan: Look over the horizon as the sun sets in this beautiful kayaking adventure that is sure to leave an impression.
Sunset Cruise Dining Experience
After a long day of experiencing all these different activities, relax on a cruise and enjoy a luxurious gourmet dinner. This experience was truly unique for me and I even got to meet new friends. On the deck, people were mingling, and there was a wonderful live performance by one of their singers. There is nothing more romantic than sitting atop the water, drinking a cup of wine, and listening to beautiful Okinawan music while you overlook the seemingly never-ending ocean.
- Naha: This is the cruise that I booked during my last trip and it was so beautiful! An atmospheric view combined with the great food and music made this a trip I just couldn't forget!
- Ishigaki: This package includes 2 drinks and is located on a yacht with an experienced english speaking captain.
- Ishigaki: Another option for those in Ishigaki is this sunset BBQ cruise, which serves fresh meat and seafood with live music and the option to fish on the deck as you look over the horizon.
Whether it is trying new things, or revisiting an old sport, Okinawa has a plethora of amazing water activities that you can dive into, so take the opportunity to try them all! I hope you have an amazing and memorable trip!
Below is a guide for some of Okinawa's top specialties to look out for, sure to make your trip more memorable and enjoyable!