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4-Day Okinawa Japan Road Trip Guide: A complete itinerary to experience the best of Naha Island

Updated: Jul 18, 2020

Want to experience the best Japan has to offer in a laid back tropical island setting? That's exactly what you'll get from a visit to Okinawa. From delicious local cuisine and rich cultural history to cliffside coastlines surrounded by the clearest of blue waters. Experience the best of Okinawa in 4 days with our complete road trip itinerary guide with maps.

4-Day Road Trip Itinerary: Naha, Okinawa, Japan travel guide
4-Day Road Trip Itinerary: Naha, Okinawa, Japan

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Getting to Naha, Okinawa from Singapore:

One of the reasons we added Okinawa to our travel list is that it is only a direct flight away from Singapore. Within 5 hours we reached Naha airport thanks to Jetstar Asia.

Renting a Car: Getting around Naha, the main island of Okinawa:

As there are many stunning coastal drives along Naha, we highly recommend renting a car to make the most of the visit. Outside the airport, are stands of shuttles offering to take passengers on the 10-minute drive to the nearest car rental company. We rented our car via Budget, pre-booked on Expedia. We recommend a good internet connection to be able to use Google Maps as well (as our GPS was mostly in Japanese).

Okinawa Road Trip car rental Budget
Budget Car Rental Okinawa: Suzuki Swift

The best time to visit Okinawa:

We visited during Late January and were treated to 20-25c weather, clear skies and limited crowds. We originally booked to visit in August the previous year, however, delayed our trip due to typhoons.

Where to stay in Naha:

We opted for a stay at the Harbourview hotel in Naha City, which included valet parking for a small daily rate. This location was an easy drive for most of our day trips and a short walk to restaurants in the evening. There are many accommodation options across Naha island though and with a car all are easily accessible which can be seen here.

Find the best hotel deals in Naha, Okinawa:

Our Complete 4 Day Road Trip Itinerary around Okinawa:

Day 1 Route: Naha - Cape Manzamo - Cape Maeda - Cape Zanpa - America Village - Naha

Naha Okinawa Road Trip map travel guide
Day 1 Route Map: Naha - Cape Manzamo - Cape Maeda - Cape Zanpa - Americal Village

Cape Manzamo:

The sun warmed our backs as the light breeze swept across the calm ocean on a 25c clear day. We wandered past tropical green trees as we approached the famous Manzamo coastline, tour groups were in toe with this site drawing a crowd. We waited for a clearing between groups to get our perfect view of the elephant-shaped rock pushing out into the clear turquoise waters below.

Cape Manzamo Okinawa Naha Japan
Cape Manzamo, Okinawa

Izakaya Lunch Stop - Cape Manzamo

We turned south along the stunning coastal drive for a further 20 mins towards Cape Maeda. Just 5 minutes past Manzamo, along the coastal highway, we stopped at a small Japanese house converted into an Izakaya restaurant (See stop 2 on our map). Here we sat on tatami mats and floor level and had our first taste of Okinawa’s famous Sea Grape and Soba. We wouldn’t have spend more than $30 for this feast.

Cape Maeda:

Upon arrival at Cape Maeda, the car park was filled with Diving and Snorkeling groups, this spot is famous for swimming in the blue cave. It’s possible to book a tour on the spot. We opted to walk along the rocky cliffs and take in the view, free from other tourists.

Cape Maeda Coastline Naha Okinawa Japan
Cape Maeda Coastline
Cape Madea Okinawa Naha Japan
Exploring the walking trails along Cape Madea
Cape Maeda Okinawa Japan
Cape Maeda Okinawa Japan

Cape Zanpa:

Continuing south, our next stop was Cape Zanpa lighthouse. For a $4 entry fee and 130m climb be treated to some spectacular aerial views of the Okinawa coastline. The views of the water below offered more shades of blue than we could count.

Here we stopped to try another famous Okinawan delicacy - Blue Seals local sweet potato purple ice cream. It was creamy and delicious.

Cape Zanpa Lighthouse Okinawa Naha Blue Seal Icecream
Enjoying Blue Seal Ice Cream at Cape Zanpa Lighthouse, Okinawa
Blue Seal Sweet Potato Ice Cream
Sweet Potato Flavour - A must try in Okinawa
Inside Cape Zanpa Lighthouse climb
The 130m climb to the top of Cape Zanpa Lightouse

View from Cape Zanpa Lighthouse Naha Okinawa
View of Nahas Coastline from the top of Cape Zanpa Lighthouse

The American Village:

Our final stop south on the way back to Naha was the American Village. Filled with souvenir shops, restaurants and vintage American memorabilia.

American Village Naha Okinawa
American Memorabilia Store at the American Village, Okinawa

Evening in Naha City - Kokusai Dori

After reaching Naha City we walked 10 minutes from our hotel down to the bustling street of Kokusai Dori. A popular tourist strip, filled with restaurants. Here, we got our first taste of the Okinawa brewed Orion Beer, a must-try during your visit.

Kokusai Dori Street, Naha City, Okinawa
Kokusai Dori Street, Naha City, Okinawa

Day 2 Route: Naha - Kouri Island - Churaumi Aquarium - Naha Makishi Market

Day 2 Okinawa Road Trip Route Map - Naha - Kouri Island - Churaumi Aquarium - Naha

Kouri Island:

Experience 50 shades of blue driving across Japan's second-longest bridge connecting to a remote island. Driving to this island was a sight in itself not to be missed. Upon arrival, we stopped via the coast to walk along the water and take it all in. We spent the full morning at Kouri, here are our highlights:

Kouri Island Okinawa Naha Japan water
The clear blue waters of Kouri Island
Kouri Island Okinawa Japan Naha
Kouri Island

Stop for lunch at the Kouri Shrimp food truck:

We loved the ocean views over a low-cost Japanese-Hawaiian fusion lunch of garlic shrimp, beef, rice and seaweed fries.

Kouri Shrimp: Garlic shrimp, beef and rice bowl
Kouri Shrimp Kouri Island Okinawa
Kouri Shrimp is located up a hill on Kouri Island, offering amazing ocean views while enjoying lunch

Take a buggy tour to the top of the Ocean Tower:

We next jumped on a cute buggy tour taking us to the views at the top of the Ocean Tower. On the way down we stopped to taste the soft pumpkin cookies made on-site, of which we brought several boxes home, these were the perfect souvenir!

Ocean Tower view Kouri Island Okinawa
View from the top of Kouri Island Ocean Tower

Chuarium Aquarium:

From Kouri island, we headed south to Chuarium Aquarium, located again along a stunning coastline of clear blue waters. The highlight here was the large tank of manta's whale sharks.

Churaumi Aquarium naha okinawa japan whale shark
The Whale Sharks and Manta Rays at Churaumi Aquarium

Naha City Makishi Markets:

After a long day, we headed back to Naha to end the night with a shop and dinner around Naha City's Makishi Markets.

Naha City Makishi Markets Japan Okinawa
Naha Makishi Markets

Day 3 Route: Naha - Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters - Umikaji Terrace - A&W - Okinawa World & Gyokusen-do Cave - Valley of Gangala - Naha

Okinawa road trip map guide
Day 3 Okinawa Road trip route: Naha - War Tunnels - Umikaji Terrace - A&W - Okinawa World - Naha

The Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters (WW2 Museum & tunnels) - Tomigusuku:

Just 15 minutes from our hotel was the Former Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters from World War Two. We experienced the war history walking through meters of underground tunnels once critical in the battle for Okinawa.

Japanese Navy Headquarters WW2 museum tunnels Naha Okinawa Japan
Walking the underground tunnels of the WW2 Japanese Navy Headquarters
Japanese Navy Underground headquarters WW2 Museum Okinawa Japan
Steps entering into the Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters

Umikaji Terrace & the Hammock Cafe:

Also located in Naha City is the coastal area of Umikaji terrace, filled with waterfront restaurants. Here we stopped for a morning coffee at the Instagrammable Hammock Cafe.

Hammock Cafe Umikaji terrace naha okinawa japan
Morning coffee break at the Hammock Cafe on Umikaji Terrace

Lunch at A&W:

Seemingly the most famous fast food restaurant in Okinawa is A&W. We made a lunch stop to try the juicy burgers and fries.

Okinawa World and Gyokusen-do Cave:

We spent our afternoon at Okinawa World. The highlight here was the 2km Gyokusen-do cave developed hundreds of thousands of years ago and taking more than 20 minutes to walk through. We also enjoyed some local culture here, watching a traditional drumming and dance show, as well as visiting some pineapple plantations.

Gyokusen-do Cave - Okinawa World
Gyokusen-do Cave - Okinawa World
Gyokusendo cave okinawa world japan naha
Pineapple okinawa world
The Pineapple plantations of Okinawa World

Valley of Gangala:

Directly across the road from Okinawa World is the Valley of Gangala, a lush green valley of a once collapsed limestone cave. Walking tours are available hourly through the area, which can only be accessed as part of a tour. We managed to catch the last English tour of the day departing at 4 pm.

Valley of Gangala Okinawa Japan
Valley of Ganagala cave Okinawa Japan Naha
The Valley of Gangala

Day 4 Route: Exploring Naha City's Surrounds - Shurijo Castle - Tsuboya Pottery Village - Fukushuen Park - Dinner in an old Japanese Residence

Shurijo Castle:

Our first stop of the day was exploring the remnants of this world heritage castle and grounds while enjoying a view over Naha city.

Tsuboya Pottery Village:

We then shopped for some locally-made souvenirs at Tsuboya Pottery Village. We Took time to wander the cute streets & stop for the local Bukubuku tea, made from rice (Andrew also made a new friend).

Fukushuen Park:

Our last stop of the day was wandering the traditional gardens of Fukushuen Park.

Dinner at Komiya Shokudo Japanese Residence:

Finally we enjoyed dinner in a traditional Japanese house for under $30 for 2 people.

Komiya Shokudo Japan Naha Okinawa
Japanese Curry & Katsu don at Komiya Shokudo
Komiya Shokudo Japan Naha Okinawa

We hope you enjoyed our weekend travel guide to the Okinawa, Japan.

We also share our top 10 must try local foods in Okinawa here.

For more blog posts on weekend getaways and travel itineraries check out the destinations section of our blog.



Little Sherpa Travels Japan Okinawa Naha road trip guide



OUR AIM: is to help more people experience the world in just a weekend. We hope through sharing our easy-to-follow short break and weekend travel guides we can inspire others to make the most of their weekends and precious annual leave.


WE ARE: An Australian and British married couple living in Australia, which we recently moved back to after 7 years exploring Asia. By week we manage data forecasting and engineering projects. By the weekend we wander. This is the story of our weekend travels. We are passionate travellers who love taking photos, eating and going on adventures.  We hope you enjoy our travel blog.


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