Okinawa Main Island (Okinawa Honto)

First and foremost, we would not recommend Okinawa Main Island (“Okinawa Honto”) for nature lovers. There are beautiful places, but there are unfortunately a lot of eye-sores which you cannot avoid before reaching these beautiful nature areas. It is a massive island with nice spots dotted around (including offshore tiny islands accessible for day trips, as seen in photos on this page) so you have to be willing to drive, a lot. Even so, the most beautiful beaches on Okinawa Main Island are underwhelming compared to the beautiful beaches on other islands of Okinawa Prefecture. The most beautiful area of Okinawa Main Island is the northern part which is home to the Yambaru Forest, one of the largest remaining subtropical rainforests in Asia. It takes over two hours by car from the airport to reach any trail entrance inside Yambaru National Park or UNESCO World Natural Heritage site of the Yambaru Forest (for that amount of time, you might as well visit Iriomote Island which is far more impressive for jungle lovers).
As there is plenty of information about trails in Yambaru National Park, we won’t cover them here but our favorite trail/stream trekking with easy access is the one starting from the bottom of Nagao Bridge (follow the pink ribbon to get down to the river from this spot). For those who want to get a taste of the Yambaru Forest without driving too much, there are some nice spots without going into the national park/UNESCO heritage area such as this spot for stream trekking (to get down to Genkao River, take the path by the flash flood warning sign which is on the other side of the parking area. Once you reach the river, you will see a stream merging into the river from the other side of the river. Hike up that stream. Felt-sole neoprene boots are essential if you want to climb up the slippery waterfall. In this stream, we saw a giant eel, as thick as a human neck!).

For those who are interested in traditional arts, crafts and history of Ryukyu Kingdom, Okinawa Main Island will not disappoint with plenty of places to learn about the culture and history.

The Churaumi Aquarium is a great place for a family day.

Naha city is a busy and bustling city, with lots of traffic congestion (the worst traffic in the whole of Japan) and a large population, and it certainly does not have the feeling that you are on an island. Okinawa Main Island is also home to the American military bases, which unfortunately hold some resentment with some local Okinawans due to the frequent bad behavior of a small number of American servicepeople.

It is not possible to go to Miyako Island, Ishigaki Island, etc., for a day trip from Okinawa Main Island. Those islands are another 50-60 minute flight away. However, it is possible to visit Tokashiki Island, Zamami Island and Aka Island as a day trip from Naha by ferry. Due to the amount of driving necessary to get anywhere beautiful on Okinawa Main Island, we highly recommend spending your holiday on other islands instead of Okinawa Main Island. If you can get a good flight connection, it’s quicker to go to other bigger islands such as Miyako Island and Ishigaki Island, which are much more beautiful, with higher temperatures for both air and water (especially between November and May), and far less traffic and population than Okinawa Main Island.


PrefectureOkinawaSize1,200 sq kmPopulationApproximately 1.22 millionAccessA flight from Tokyo takes about 2.5 hours. There are flights from major cities of Japan. Getting aroundCar rental is necessary unless you just want to be in the city