If you’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii, but it’s too far away, we’ve got the ultimate destination for you much closer to home. Okinawa in Japan is a lesser-known tropical island paradise, exhibiting 160 inhabited and uninhabited islands, in the East China Sea between Taiwan and Japan’s mainland.
Dubbed the Hawaii of Japan, Okinawa offers beautiful white sand beaches, the best stargazing experiences globally, some of the world’s best diving spots among coral reefs, and a rich culture and history with a number of World War II sites to explore. Conveniently, the Okinawa Islands are just a five hour direct flight (3750km) from Singapore Changi Airport.
Okinawa Islands, Japan
The Japanese prefecture of Okinawa is an authentic getaway with a tropical climate year round. Travellers can experience natural beauty. From one of the World’s Best Beach’s Nishihama Beach in Hateruma Island, to unspoiled scenery and majestic sunsets and sunrises anywhere on the islands, coral garden swims, mysterious limestone caves like the 300,000-year-old Gyokusendo Cave, and historic castles such as Shuri Castle (the palace of Ryukyu Kingdom from 1429 to 1879), to name a few.
Flights from Singapore land in Naha City, which is on the main island of Okinawa. There, visitors will be treated to authentic Okinawa experiences and a range of exciting things to do. Our top picks include traditional theme parks and an American-themed market for shopping, as well as Churaumi Aquarium, the largest aquarium in Japan, and a new Pokémon Centre, which attracts Pokémon fans globally.
Okinawa boasts its own food culture that’s slightly different to Japan so there are several delicious restaurants and street food markets to send your taste buds on an adventure. For example, popular dishes include stir-fry bitter melon, Okinawan soba noodles, sea grapes, coconut crab, and local Izakaya, alongside Okinawa beverages like Orion beers and Okinawa sake.
Wonderfully, English is widely spoken around Naha because it is home to many military basis belonging to the United States.
History of Okinawa
Okinawa, once the independent Ryukyu Kingdom, formed as a prefecture in the 19th century. Hence why it has is own culture and traditions different from the rest of Japan. But it was controlled by the Americans after World War II in 1945 until Japan was given control again in 1972. Okinawa is mainly famous because it was the location of one of the worst battles of World War II. Today, there is Okinawa Peace Memorial Park and Museum, honouring the thousands of people who died, during the battle. Definitely, the perfect place to explore for history buffs.
How to get to Okinawa from Singapore?
Jetstar departs from Singapore Changi Airport every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday – for as a little as $269 one-way. The journey takes five hours and 10 minutes to Naha Airport (OKA) on the main island of Okinawa, which is 5km from the city centre, and easily accessible by bus, taxi, or monorail – for an affordable price of around $12.
Once in Naha, you can arrange to island hop by driving, taking boats, or flying to the other two main airports of Miyako Airport (MMY) or Ishigaki Airport (ISG).
The best islands to visit in Okinawa
Certainly, it would be impossible to get to 160 islands, so we’ve narrowed down our favourites in Okinawa to visit on your holiday. These islands include:
- Okinawa Main Island (best for city life)
- Mikayo Islands (best for diving)
- Tokashiki Island (best for snorkeling with marine life)
- Kudaka Island (best for traditions and sacred sites)
- Hateruma Island (best for pristine beaches)
- Ishigaki Island (best for hiking)
Keep an eye on our page for a guide on the best things to do in Okinawa in Japan on a holiday from Singapore.