Okinawa 5 days itinerary

Took advantage of the now available budget direct flight to Okinawa. There’s not so much to see in Okinawa, to be honest, but it’s Japan nevertheless. Here’s what we did in 5 days.

Day 1
Ashibinaa Outlet – Aeon – Hamabe-no-chaya Teahouse – Banta Cliff

The flight touched down at budget flight kind of timing, 8am. Fortunately, the driving in Okinawa is quite well mannered, and the general speed limit of 50-60km/h is safe enough for driving under lack of sleep. By the way, I did not make use of the ETC card and i avoided the toll highway completely.

I did not plan beforehand where to have breakfast, and while driving about looking for a place, we stumbled across an A&W restaurant.

All American, including the music which was the radio broadcast from the US Air Base

Haven’t had the root beer in a long time
Japanese style sandwiches
They even have the eggs ben type of breakfast

The Ashibinaa Outlet was just across the road from the car rental office, near the airport. Save the traveling later on and just visit there first. There is a tax-free drug store (藥妝) here.

A sizeable Outlet
This hibiscus caught my attention – it’s bigger than any i’ve seen in Malaysia.
Okinawan Soba. We got tired of it after having this 3 meals in a row (just about all restaurants serve this), but you should definitely try it while in Okinawa.
The menu at 上原そば店, specializes in Okinawan Soba.

We visited the nearby Aeon shopping mall before heading for the famed Hamabe-no-chaya Teahouse. The generally raving reviews of this place turned out to be quite accurate.

It’s like a picture, except it’s real
The scenery is beautiful whether high tide or low tide
The food is pretty good too
Citrus sorbet, an Okinawan specialty
Banta cliff was nearby, so we took a quick look (the person in the lower middle of the photo gives you a sense of the scale)
The waters around Okinawa is very clear

Our favourite type of eatery in Japan are Izakayas. Urizun is a one serving Okinawan cuisine.

The appetizer
25 dishes
Okinawan rice and braised pork
Some kind of veggie..
Tofu topped with rabbit fish. The fish is a little tough.
Fried fish
Yam cake. Tasted very good.
Okinawan Soba for the kids
There are many Izakayas around this corner in Naha
Awamori is cheaper than Sake. Not as good as Sake but not bad.

Day 2
Ashibiuna – Shuri Castle – Naha Main Place – Kokusai Dori

We got up late and headed for lunch directly. Turned out to be a good idea. Arriving before 1130, we were seated immediately when we got to Ashibiuna.

Koinobori. Kites dangled across the lake next to Shuri castle.
Lush greenery at the entrance of Ashibiuna
Okinawan Soba for the third and the last time
Eggplant and tofu. Tasty.
Bitter gourd set meal
Tofu champuru set meal. There is nice Wok Hei to all the dishes.
The best part of dining at Ashibiuna – the beautiful garden!
Spotted this cute guardian lion at the University just next to Shiru castle. Definitely not in Chinese style.
One of the gates to Shuri castle
Nice view of Naha from the castle ground
Under restoration
Well prepared for strong wind

As suggested by many, there is free parking at San-A Naha Main Place. It’s a 15-20 minutes downhill walk to Kokusai dori. The return journey can be made easier by taking the Yui rail.

This is like the Japanese version of 脏脏包 – Pancakes with cream filling coated in chocolate powder
Palm tree lined Kokusai Dori
Cat with unusual coloued fur
A queue outside Danbo Ramen. We never tried, but it’s probably one of the better Ramen in Okinawa.
Like all Japanese cities and towns, there is a covered shopping street along Kokusai Dori, at Heiwa Dori
Mostly tourist oriented stuff
Standing bar, crowded even at 4pm
THIS IS A MUST – grab the 108 yen grilled sweet potato from the ground floor of Don Quijote. The cheapest and freshest. I have not tasted sweet potato this good.
Probably a very old house that has been refreshed. Looks like fun to live in it.

Dinner was at Roinzu. We make it a point to go for a grilled beef meal at least twice on any Japan trip. Prices reasonable – under 2000 Yen per portion for the more expensive cuts.

Beef Tartare
Beautifully marbled
Juicy after grilling
This is a popular item at Roinzu
Grilling is done for you – only 3 seconds or so. Dab into the egg yolk and sauce. HEAVENLY.

Day 3
American Village – Bios Hill – Cape Maeda – Zanpa lighthouse

We grabbed these from SAN-A supermarket for breakfast, including the Pork Tamago Onigiri. It’s probably not as good as the one from the famous shop Honten, but you get an idea what it’s about.
American Village. Not a lot to see here, but still a necessary place to visit.
Orion beer is quite good
Huge portion, cheap prices at Four Seasons Steak House. We went to the outlet at the nearby town from American village, not the one in American village itself, which seems to have worse review.
I haven’t had Teppanyaki since twenty years ago probably
Fresh and tasty

Next stop, Bios Hill.

The first thing you’re greeted with are the huge orchids. About the largest i’ve seen.
Orchid prowess
All shapes, colour and sizes
Goats and chickens to entertain kids (or more so adults)
Another huge flower..
Looks like a cross between pineapple and durian
Best camouflaged rubbish bin
Sprawling fir trees
Interesting colour combination
More Orchid
Huge and beautiful colours
Fiery red
The cafe at the end of the visit
Reminds me of fractals
Cape Maeda
Eroded volcanic rocks
Some of the strongest waves i have seen
Somehow reminds me of Star Wars

The wind was quite strong at this time, and it made our visit to Zanpa lighthouse quite interesting. I have not seen waves spray so high up.

The spray was so high that it would be blown hundreds of metres inland
A nice spot for wedding photos. Although, they were taking up so much time (obstructing others from photo taking)

I originally planned to have dinner at Kuromasa, but they were closed for the day, so we went to 島の季節料理 うみぞら instead. The food was good, carefully prepared.

Assorted sashimi
Steamed pork (probably the famous black pork)
Fried rice – different from Chinese style

Day 4
Cape Manzamo – Kouri Island – Bise Fukugi Tree Road – Churaumi Aquarium

Here’s a tip if you plan to visit Churaumi Aquarium (probably everyone does). Get the 4pm tickets and save $$. It’s an indoor aquarium afterall, there’s no need to visit it before 4pm. Instead, go to Kouri Island first, and don’t miss the Bise Fukugi Tree Road (which is only 3 minutes away from the aquarium).

The guest house we were staying in was right next to this huge grave, which is in the same style as those we have seen around Fujian. Okinawa was closely connected to Fujian afterall.
Cape Manzamo
Lunch at お食事処 文ちゃん
Pork in sesame sauce
This was probably the more worthwhile set – huge shrimps
The sea urchin set. Like many reviewers mentioned, the sea urchin wasn’t so good. If you have tasted the sea urchin from Hokkaido, forget this one.
The heart rocks are interesting because they are so near the beach
You may have to jostle with many other visitors
They almost seem they were planted there
View of the bridge from Plumeria cafe
Take a walk in the fukugi tree lined paths
Most of the houses are just fenced up by trees
The east-west paths lead to the sea
It’s interesting that once you exit the tree road, you end up in a wide open expanse that is the beach
The residents living by the beach are privileged to have this view at their doorstep
Fukugi trees are quite dense, providing good shelter
Pentagon pillow shaped starfish
A 4pm visit allows you to see the sunray coming in at this angle
Spiky sea urchin
Garden hose eels. Amazes me how they can withdraw into the sand in an instant.
Curious looking creatures
The main aquarium
The fish with the eyes that look like the eye of Sauron (from the movie Lord of the Rings)
Om-nom-nom-nom-nom – Dugong
The dolphin showing off the food in its possession – throwing it about rather than swallowing it
Dolphins are smart creatures, no doubt

Dinner was at Mammi – grilled beef and pork.

Okinawan specialty – 七轮烧. Minced meat dipped in sauce and grilled
Marbled beef

Day 5
Cape Hedo – Dai Sekirinzan Park – Hiji Waterfall – Okuma private beach

Me thinks Cape Hedo is better than Cape Manzamo
Beautiful view at Cape Hedo
Daisetsuzan, not that interesting, though it’s still worth a visit if you’re going to Cape Hedo

Had a cheap and good meal at 国頭港食堂. Portions were big.

Rice topped with 5 types of sashimi
Tempura and fish soup set
Grilled fish with butter sauce
Trail to Hiji Waterfall
Just one of the many types of ferns found in Okinawa
Hiji Waterfall
Okuma private beach. Manicured. We had a 500 Yen glass of Coke to make ourselves feel better about stepping onto the beach without actually being guests of the resort. And no, we weren’t chased off.
Even the colour of the vessels were carefully chosen

When it comes to food, we love old-school, and 味いちもんめ is exactly that. It’s a one man show place.

Run down exterior
Run down inside too
Noodles topped with beef
Tofu champuru. Oh the Wok Hei! Easily the best we’ve had in Okinawa
Chicken Katsu

As is our usual practice, we had a second round of dinner/supper, at 居酒屋21 (the previous night, we went to Yukino, which was very good as well). This place was packed to the brim on a Friday night.

4 types of draught beer available, and these two are the best
Grilled beef
Fritters with cheese filling
We had to try the Okinawan specialty chives/spring onions which we saw at Heiwa Dori
Ebi Tempura. The shrimps in Okinawa are so cheap and good we had to have it over and over again

Day 6
Hachiren – Kariyushi Gettou

Flight to Taipei at 6pm. We decided the night before we had to grab a pair of Kariyushi wear before leaving Okinawa, because we will likely never come back again. Kariyushi don’t come cheap. A shirt typically cost 6000 Yen and above, and the most well known boutique selling them is Mango House, along Kakusai Dori. Well, i did a bit of research and found out that Gettou sells them at Outlet prices. They are also located on Kakusai Dori.

Anyway, we did lunch at Hachiren, said to serve the best Ramen in Okinawa. It did not disappoint. We arrived right when they opened. There was a queue shortly after.

The Tsukemen is their signature Ramen
Simple but spacious interior
The noodles was GOOD. Chewy and smooth. Among the best i have eaten. The soup, a combination of pork, chicken and seafood broth, was thick and tasty.

It was a Saturday, so we had no problem finding a parking lot at one of the small car parks near Gettou. If you didn’t do prior research, you may not notice the shop, located on the second floor of the building.

Good quality and good price, from 3500 Yen
We grabbed these. Mission accomplished and no regrets for the trip
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