Dear visitor, if you know the answer to this question, please post it. Thank you!

Staying Naha, explore beyond 2018/3/29 17:33
Booked for end of January 2019 for one week. I am a lone traveller. My plan is to stay in Naha and have day trips to the islands, to see the various places of interest.

My main reason for visiting is to see the early flowering cherry blossom!

I am confused about what I can do in one day excursions to the nearby islands. I am particularly interested in anything to do with nature - whale watching, mangroves, botanical gardens, bird watching, and of course the Sakura viewing. Not interested in sun-bathing on a beach / swimming.

Advice please

1 Which attractions on other islands can I do on my own, travelling there and back from Naha in a day?

2. Which island/s do you think are so good that can't be done in a day, so I should stay overnight on the island? (I have booked a cheap rental place in Naha so it wouldn't cost too much if I left it empty overnight)

and

3. Where it is worth booking an organised tour instead of trying to do it on my own?
(One problem here is, checking out the the organised tours, many won't even let me book as a single traveller)

Thank you
by PamelaLev  

Re: Staying Naha, explore beyond 2018/7/31 22:56
I think your best bet is to contact your local Japanese tourism office and ask for brochures. From travel experience in Feb 18, cherry blossoms can be seen in Naha, but are also abundant in the old fortifications like Nakijin on the Motobu peninsula. Check beforehand which of the World Cultural Heritage sites you want to see and how to get there if you do not have access to a rental car. There are boat trips and places like the Churaumi Aquarium, but they may be quite touristy. Not sure whether any of the islands around offer more nature, I understand that a few are practically covered by cattle farms...

We only visited island close to Motobu Peninsula reachable by car and did not leave the island by boat or ferry. However, if you qualify for the ANA/JAL tourist fee flights ( around 10.800 Yen), you might consider to halve the time on Okinawa and spend a few days on Ishigaki, hub of the Yaeyama Islands - possible day trips from there are Iriomote ( organized tours available) for jungle, star sand, mangrove forests and hiking, Yubu for flowers of all kinds (reachable by water buffalo cart from Iriomote) and Taketomi for traditional architecture and cycling. Ishigaki is quite beautiful in it's own right and a round course of the island is recommended.

To give you an idea of timing, this was our itinerary in the Okinawa prefecture:
Day 1: Arrive on Okinawa, Accommodation in Naha, Sightseeing around town.
Day 2: Southern part of the Island, WW2 Memorial Museum, Sefa Utaki and cross back to Naha with Shuri Castle. Changed accommodation to Nago further north.
Day 3: Motobu peninsula with Churaumi Aquarium and Nakijin Castle ruins.
Day 4: Transfer to Airport, flight to Ishigaki, afternoon spent on Taketomi. Accomodation on Ishigaki close to ferry harbor ( in the main village).
Day 5: Organized day trip to Iriomote/Yubu
Day 6: Round course on Ishigaki, Kabira Bay, Return to Tokyo in the evening.

We had a rental car on Okinawa and Ishigaki.

Unfortunately, most guidebooks skip the Okinawa prefecture and there is only one out there in English that is not very helpful. I can only recommend to ask for brochures in the tourism office, only good experiences with them.

Hope this helps, and have a lovely trip.

Mary
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