Best Places to Stay in Okinawa
The islands of Okinawa attract visitors from all over the world, drawn to their many fantastic beaches, world-class diving spots and the promise of total relaxation. On this page you will find the following information:
The Okinawan archipelago consists of more than 160 islands, of which the main island of Okinawa Honto is the largest. Naha City is the largest city on Okinawa Honto and the primary access point for visitors to the smaller islands, with flights connecting Naha Airport to cities on the Japanese main islands and international destinations. Ferry services also operate to and from Naha and Kagoshima in Kyushu. Okinawa Honto is surrounded by smaller islands making-up the ‘Okinawa Shoto’ grouping while the Kerama Islands – including Zamami, Tokashiki and Aka – and the popular Kume Island all within easy reach of Okinawa Honto.
25 Things to Do Around Okinawa & Where to Stay
Spread across a vast area and surrounded by the South China Sea and Pacific…
Located almost 300 kilometres to the southwest of the main island, Miyako is one of the most popular islands in Okinawa while further west yet, the Yaeyama islands including the popular destinations of Ishigaki and Iriomote along with Taketomi and Yonaguni.
RECOMMENDED PLACES TO STAY IN OKINAWA
The islands of Okinawa are spread across a vast area, surrounded by the South China Sea and Pacific Ocean. Some islands are within easy access of each other – connected by both ferries and flights – while others are a significant distance apart. On this page we provide information about accommodation in the following areas:
MAIN ISLAND (SOUTH): NAHA CITY — MAIN ISLAND (CENTRAL): ONNA AREA — MAIN ISLAND (NORTH): NAGO AREA — KUME ISLAND — ZAMAMI ISLAND — TOKASHIKI ISLAND — AKA ISLAND — MIYAKO ISLAND — ISHIGAKI ISLAND — TAKETOMI ISLAND — IRIOMOTE ISLAND — YONAGUNI ISLAND
The areas discussed don’t account for all the islands and accommodation options across the region but they comprise the most popular and convenient places to stay when visiting Okinawa. Located in the south of main island, Naha is the largest city in Okinawa, offering lots of accommodation options with the Onna and Nago areas located further north on the island also offering lots of options. The smaller islands of Miyako, Ishigaki and Iriomote are also popular, offering fantastic beaches, diving and accommodation including high-end beach resorts. To begin, let’s start with the largest city in Okinawa:
MAIN ISLAND (SOUTH) : NAHA CITY
Naha is the largest city in the Okinawan Islands and the entry point from where visitors head onto the smaller islands. Serviced by Naha Airport – connecting the city to destinations in the Japanese mainland and regional cities in Asia – Naha is a convenient base from where to explore the entire main island before heading onto the smaller islands. There are plenty of accommodation options in the city ranging from high-end hotels, to economical business hotels, small guesthouses, hostels and budget lodges. You should have no trouble finding accommodation in the city noting that July and August are the busiest months, when people travel to Okinawa from all over Japan to enjoy their summer holidays. If you are intending to travel at that time, make sure to book your accommodation well in advance. We recommend booking something nearby one of Naha’s monorail stations, allowing you to easily move around the city. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Naha City Area’ hotel page.
MAIN ISLAND (CENTRAL): ONNA AREA
The Onna area of the Okinawan main island lies to the north of Naha City and is known for its resorts and hotels including ANA InterContinental Manza Hotel & Resort the Renaissance Okinawa Resort and the Rizzan Sea-Park. As such, staying in Onna is well-suited to travellers wanting to get-out of the city and have access to some of the main island’s best beaches including Manza Beach. Located a short distance for the Nago area of the island – another popular accommodation lying further to the north – staying in Onna takes you away from the congestion of Naha and puts you within easy reach of popular destinations including Ocean Expo Park, Churaumi Aquarium, Yambaru National Park and islands off the north coast. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Onna Area’ hotel page.
MAIN ISLAND (NORTH): NAGO AREA
Nago is located in the north of the Okinawan main island – around 70 minutes drive from Naha City – and well-suited to anyone focused on in the attractions in that area including Ocean Expo Park, Churaumi Aquarium and Yambaru National Park. There’s plenty of accommodation to choose from including beachside resorts, large to mid-sized hotels, economical business hotels, smaller guesthouses and budget lodges. Unless you are planning to stay at a beach resort and not move around too much while there, staying in this area is best-suited to travellers renting a car, allowing the freedom to move around the north of the island while opening-up lots of good accommodation options that might be a little harder to get to. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Nago Area’ hotel page.
Kume Island is only 90 kilometres from the Okinawan main island making it a popular destination for travellers wanting to head to one of the smaller islands but within easy reach of Naha. Blessed with beautiful beaches that are less-developed than those on the main island, Kume provides visitors with plenty of accommodation options including beachside resorts and hotels, mid-range guesthouses and basic ‘minshuku’ lodges. Most accommodation is located on the eastern side of the island with ore on the western side of the island, nearby the ferry terminal and Kume’s small airport. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Kume Island’ hotel page.
Zamami is the most popular island in the Kerama grouping, known for its pristine beaches and clear waters that entice visitors with fantastic diving and snorkelling. From December until April, humpback whales migrate through the waters surrounding Zamami and other Kerama Islands, another big reason to visit with the best months being January to March. Most accommodation is located around the ferry terminal where you’ll find small hotels and guesthouses, hostels and a couple of upscale options. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Zamami Island’ hotel page.
Tokashiki is the largest island in the Kerama grouping, easy to reach from Naha on the Okinawan main island. Tokashiki is known for its beautiful beaches, fantastic snorkelling and diving, whale-watching and heavily-forested interior which can be explored on hiking trails. Accommodation on the island is mostly limited to comfortable, family-run guesthouses along with mid-range hotels and a couple of high-end resorts. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Tokashiki Island’ hotel page.
Aka Island offers only a limited number of accommodation choices almost all of which are located nearby the Aka Port Terminal from where ferries operate to nearby Zamami and the main island of Okinawan Honto. Options include mid-sized hotels, small guesthouses and self-contained accommodation offering easy access to popular Maehama Beach. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Aka Island’ hotel page.
Miyako is one of Okinawa’s most popular islands thanks to its large resort hotels and direct flights from the Japanese mainland. High-end options on the island include Iraph Sui, Blue Ocean Hotel, Shigira Bayside and Hotel Shigira Mirage with numerous mid-range hotels and more basic guesthouses dotted across the island. Miyako is one of the largest of the Okinawa islands making it important that you choose one well-located for your intended activities. An increasingly popular summer destination year-on-year, make sure to book well in advance to ensure you get your choice of hotel. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Miyako Island’ hotel page.
Ishigaki is the most popular island in the Yaeyama grouping, offering a huge range of accommodation. The largest concentration of hotels is located nearby Yashima Ferry Terminal where you’ll find mostly mid-range hotels and small guesthouses. Prices vary and can be high during the July to August peak season. To the west of this area you’ll find higher-end accommodation including beachside resorts and self-contained options, with more option locate do the east. The north coast offers more beachside accommodation with prices and amenities varying greatly between hotels and guesthouses. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Ishigaki Island’ hotel page.
Taketomi is a small island only a short boat ride from Ishigaki meaning that it can be easily enjoyed as a daytrip without the need to stay overnight. Most famous for the beautiful preservation of its traditional village, visitors head to Taketomi as much for its cultural appeal as they do to enjoy its beaches. For visitors who do wish to stay, there’s only a few accommodation options on the island however what is there is very good. The 5-star Hoshinoya Taketomi is located on the eastern side of the island. One of the best hotels in the Yaeyama Islands, Hoshinoya is without question the best option on Taketomi with a handful of other good options ranging in price located in the centre and to the west of the island. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Taketomi Island’ hotel page.
Travelers headed to Iriomote have a good range of accommodation to choose from with prices suited to all budgets including high-end hotels located in the north of the island, nearby Uehara Port where ferry services operate to and from Ishigaki. Hoshino Resorts Iriomote Hotel is arguably the best accommodation on the island with cheaper mid-range and budget options dotted around the coast with another concentration in the southern Ohara Port. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Iriomote Island’ hotel page.
Yonaguni has a limited range of accommodation most of which are small guesthouses, lodges and hostels located in the island’s major towns. Many guesthouses are ‘minshuku’ – family-run, basic accommodation – with Japanese-style rooms and often including home-made meals. Yonaguni is a popular destination for dedicated divers meaning that accommodation can book-out well in advance especially from November to May when people head to the island to dive with migrating hammerhead sharks. The island also offers limited dining and entertainment meaning that it’s best-suited to visitors solely focused on diving. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Yonaguni Island’ hotel page.
25 THINGS TO DO AROUND OKINAWA
Lying around 1600km to the southwest of Tokyo, the islands of Okinawa are surrounded by the East China Sea and Pacific Ocean and in most regards, a world away from the rest of Japan. Enjoying a tropical climate and defined by its beaches, islands and diving, Okinawa is a destination unto itself and one that will challenge your idea of what Japan is. Our ’25 Things to Do Around Okinawa’ page has our recommendations of some of the best attractions and activities waiting for you and where to stay once you get there.
GETTING TO & AROUND OKINAWA
Travelers heading to Okinawa can choose between flying – from multiple cities in Japan or regional cities in Asia – and ferry services that operate from the Japanese main islands. Our ‘Getting To & Around Okinawa’ page has everything you need to know about getting to the islands including your options of moving from the main island to smaller islands including Miyako, Ishigaki and Iriomote.
PLAN YOUR VISIT TO JAPAN
Despite Okinawa’s distance from Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, you’ll have no trouble getting there thanks for flights and ferries connecting the archipelago to the main Japanese islands. Our ‘Plan Your Visit’ page has everything you need to know about visiting Japan – from tips on the best time to travel, times to avoid, entering and exiting the country, money matters, staying connected, accommodation, staying safe and healthy and plenty more to ensure that you get the most out of your time here.