Last May my husband, two kids and I took a three-night, four-day trip Okinawa. We rented a PT Cruiser convertible, drove all over the island, did lots of sightseeing, shopping and eating, and returned to “the mainland” with great memories (and some hermit crabs that we weren’t supposed to bring back).
It started with this package deal I found on Expedia
: 4 round-trip tickets and 3 nights in a 3.5 star hotel in Naha for four people (70,000 yen including all taxes and fees). That’s 17,500 yen per person!
There are a lot of discount websites, and travel agencies to choose from, but I like expedia.com because it’s easy to navigate, you can compare packages for every budget, search by star rating, guest rating, lowest price first, most popular, etc. Having said that, these discounts are seasonal, so I’m sure you can find similar deals at any discount agency.
Checking this year’s rates I see that the package we got last year is the same price this year (2016). There are lots of dates around “Golden Week” with great prices. April, May and June are full of packages as low as 16,000 per person, 3.5-star hotels for 17,000 per person, Four-star hotels on the beach from 33,000 per person, Five-star resorts from 35,000 per person. That’s for three nights and four days. You could have just as much fun in two nights and three days and it would be even cheaper.
The end of May/beginning of June is technically rainy season, but we had great weather. As in most tropical climates, rainy season usually means a little rain in the morning and a little at night.
April and May are mild and even June isn’t too hot, with average temperatures of 26.2 C (79.2 F). As long as you avoid the crowds and cost of “Golden week” (April 29th-May 4th) you can enjoy great weather, sparse crowds, and low prices.
Here is a sketch of our itinerary:
Arrived in Naha at noon, took the Okinawa Monorail to our hotel, left our bags at reception, and walked to Kokusai Dori, Naha’s main drag. We bought fresh seafood on the first floor of the market to have prepared at one of the restaurants on the second floor, shopped for souvenirs, and took a taxi back to the hotel.
Seafood Market Kokusai Dori
After unpacking our bags and resting, we headed out to explore the neighborhood. We discovered the World Heritage Site, Shuri Castle was just a few blocks from our hotel.
Continuing on from the castle, we found a little weather-beaten barbershop on the top of a hill where my son decided to get his hair cut.
After enjoying the local experience of an Okinawan haircut, we wandered back to the hotel admiring tile roofs, hibiscus and “Shisa” (Okinawa’s mythological lion-dog protectors) on rooftops and flanking entrances of almost every house. Styles ranged from Picassoesque folk art made from old roof tiles to fine Chinese ceramic. Sizes range from ten inches tall to ten feet tall.
Picked up the PT Cruiser and drove to Okinawa World
, famous for having the longest limestone cave in Asia...and Habu Park. Named for the local deadly snake, the main attractions are tanks of live poisonous snakes, several “snake shows”, and shops with everything from snake beer to snake amulets.
In the afternoon we drove to Mihama American Village
where we swam at Sunset Beach before heading over to the giant Ferris wheel to catch the sun set over the East China Sea as the “American Village” lit up below us.
Sky Max 60 Ferris wheel
We did more
shopping, and had dinner on the terrace of The Red Lobster (an American chain restaurant) before heading back to the hotel. The kids fell asleep in the backseat of the Cruiser under the stars.
Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium and Kouri beach. A forty-minute drive through lush, tropical vegetation took us to…
Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium
Kuroshio Sea Tank
Salt water petting zoo
Highlights were the dolphin show, salt water petting zoo, and lunch at a table right next to the famous Kuroshio Sea Tank that is home to whale sharks, manta ray, and schools of tropical fish.
From the aquarium we drove through green sugar cane fields and across Kouri Bridge to…
Where we spent the rest of the day on a small, clean beach. The water was shallow, turquoise, and perfect for the kids. People were friendly, and there was a food truck with cold Orion beer and garlic-fried prawns.
Checked out of our hotel, did some last minute shopping on Kokusai Dori, and returned the car. The rental agency delivered us to the airport in a funny old weather-beaten limousine.
This was our itinerary, but there is so much to do in Okinawa, you can easily tailor it to your likes: Bar-hopping, shopping, swimming, sightseeing, exploring the southern side of the island that has pristine areas for kayaking, camping, snorkeling and diving.
We probably spent 200,000 yen for our family of four including the package, food, parking, shopping, car rental, tolls and airport parking. This too, you can easily tailor to fit your budget and lifestyle.
Now is the time to book for the best deals. Have fun!