Must-see attractions in Okinawa & the Southwest Islands

  • Sunayama Beach

    Okinawa & the Southwest Islands

    Just 4km north of the Hirara district of Miyakojima city, you'll find this little, archetypally tropical Japan beach, which lies at the bottom of a large…

  • Nishibama Beach, Aka Island, Kerama Islands, Okinawa, Japan, Asia

    Nishibama Beach

    Okinawa & the Southwest Islands

    Lovely beaches fringe every side of the island, but for sheer postcard-perfect beauty, it's hard to beat the 1km stretch of white sand on the northeast…

  • Japan, Okinawa, Kerama Islands, Zamami Island, Woman walking on Furuzamani Beach

    Furuzamami Beach

    Okinawa & the Southwest Islands

    Approximately 1km southeast from the port (over the hill) is this stunning 700m stretch of white sand, fronted by clear, shallow water and a bit of coral…

  • Shuri-jō

    Naha

    This reconstructed castle was originally built in the 14th century and served as the administrative centre and royal residence of the Ryūkyū kingdom until…

  • Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum

    Naha

    Opened in 2007, this museum of Okinawa's history, culture and natural history is easily one of the best museums in Japan. Displays are well laid out,…

  • Daichi Makishi Kōsetsu Ichiba

    Naha

    In Naha, a great place to sample everyday Okinawan eats is at one of the 2nd-floor eateries in this covered food market just off Ichibahon-dōri, about…

  • Jōmon-sugi

    Ōsumi Islands

    This enormous yakusugi tree is estimated to be between 3000 and 7000 years old, and though no longer living, it remains a majestic sight. Most hikers…

  • Sunset Beach

    Yaeyama Islands

    At the north end of the island, on the west coast, you will find this long strip of sand with a bit of offshore reef. As the name implies, this is one of…

  • Ida-no-hama

    Yaeyama Islands

    From Shirahama, at the western end of the north coast road, there are four daily boats (¥500) to the isolated settlement of Funauki. Once there, it's a…

  • Cups

    Tsuboya Pottery Street

    Naha

    One of the best parts of Naha is this neighbourhood, a centre of ceramic production from 1682, when Ryūkyū kilns were consolidated here by royal decree…

  • Space Science & Technology Museum

    Ōsumi Islands

    Reopened in 2017 after an extensive re-design, Tanegashima's Space Centre, on the spectacular southeastern coast of the island, is a large parklike…

  • Former Uezu Residence

    Okinawa & the Southwest Islands

    Built around 1750, this traditional Ryūkyūan dwelling was the former home of Kume-jima's dominant clan, the Uezu family. Lovingly maintained and set amid…

  • Yoron Minzoku-mura

    Amami Islands

    At the island's southeastern tip, the excellent Yoron Minzoku-mura is a collection of traditional thatch-roofed island dwellings and storehouses that…

  • Kabira Bay

    Yaeyama Islands

    Kabira-wan is a sheltered bay with white-sand shores and a couple of interesting clumplike islets offshore. Swimming is not allowed in the bay, as pearls…

  • Coral lagoon beach and clear water, Iriomote-jima

    Hoshisuna-no-hama

    Yaeyama Islands

    If you're looking to do a bit of snorkelling, head to this beach on the northwestern tip of the island. The beach is named after its star sand, which…

  • Yonaha-Maehama Beach

    Okinawa & the Southwest Islands

    On the southwest coast, beautiful Yonaha-Maehama is a 6km stretch of white sand that attracts a lot of families and young folk due to its shallow waters…

  • Ōhama Seaside Park

    Amami Islands

    With forest rolling down to white sand and turquoise water, the Ōhama Seaside Park complex is best known for its lovely beach, which is popular for…

  • Japan's Southernmost Point

    Yaeyama Islands

    Cycling along roads criss-crossing fields of sugar cane and tracing kilometres of unspoiled coastline – the southernmost point of Japan's southernmost…

  • Kaiji-hama

    Yaeyama Islands

    This lovely stretch of beach is on the southwest coast, also happens to be the main hoshi-suna (star sand) hunting ground. If you don't arrive bearing…

  • Nagamahama

    Okinawa & the Southwest Islands

    If you've seen the crowds at Yonaha-Maehama and decided you want something quieter, head across the Kurima Bridge and drive to the northwest coast of…

  • Nishihama

    Yaeyama Islands

    Just to the west of the port is this perfect beach of snow-white sand with some good coral offshore. Here you will find free public showers, toilets and a…

  • Pinaisāra-no-taki

    Yaeyama Islands

    At the back of a mangrove-lined bay called Funaura-wan, a few kilometres east of Uehara, you can make out the lovely Pinaisāra-no-taki, Okinawa’s highest…

  • Tatami-ishi

    Okinawa & the Southwest Islands

    On tiny Ōjima (奥武島), which is connected to Kume-jima's east coast by a causeway, you'll find the intriguing Tatami-ishi, a natural formation of flat…

  • Yakusugi Museum

    Ōsumi Islands

    In a forested spot with sea views, the Yakusugi Museum has informative, beautifully designed exhibits about yakusugi and the history of the islanders'…

  • Tsuboya Pottery Museum

    Naha

    The excellent Tsuboya Pottery Museum houses some fine examples of traditional Okinawan pottery. Here you can also inspect potters' wheels and arayachi …

  • Iriomote Wildlife Conservation Center

    Yaeyama Islands

    If you are at all intrigued by the yamaneko (Iriomote's endemic wildcat), whose critically endangered population hovers around 100, it's worth stopping by…

  • Oganeku-kaigan

    Amami Islands

    The popular Oganeku-kaigan is Yoron-tō's best beach, located on the eastern side of the island. About 500m offshore from here lies Yurigahama (百合ヶ浜), a…

  • Ishigaki City Yaeyama Museum

    Yaeyama Islands

    This modest museum has exhibits on the culture and history of the island, which are quite well presented with English explanations. Notable among the more…

  • Amami-no-Sato

    Amami Islands

    Though most displays are in Japanese, there's enough multimedia here to make this cultural and natural-history museum engaging, even for non-Japanese…

  • Eef Beach

    Okinawa & the Southwest Islands

    Kume-jima's most popular beach is also one of its nicest, though it sadly does receive its fair share of flotsam from the ocean. Iifu (Eef) means 'white'…

  • Takanazaki

    Yaeyama Islands

    At the southeast corner of the island is this impressive 1km-long cliff of Ryūkyū limestone, pounded by the Pacific Ocean. There's a small observatory…

  • Irizaki

    Yaeyama Islands

    Just as Hateruma-jima has a monument to mark Japan's southernmost point, Yonaguni-jima has one to mark the country's westernmost point (日本最西端の碑), here at…

  • Uegusuku Castle Ruins

    Okinawa & the Southwest Islands

    Perched atop the island's highest peak, at an elevation of around 310m, are the meticulously placed crumbling stone walls of what was once the stronghold…

  • Fusaki Beach Aqua Garden

    Yaeyama Islands

    Nonguests of the adjacent resort can pay to enter this massive 'aqua garden' complex with a beachfront pool, bar-restaurant, yoga lessons and a huge range…

  • Hate-no-hama

    Okinawa & the Southwest Islands

    Kume-jima's most famous attraction is this 7km sandbar that extends from the eastern point of the island, pointing back towards Okinawa-hontō. If you…

  • Shikina-en

    Naha

    Around 4km east of the city centre is a Chinese-style garden containing stone bridges, a viewing pavilion and a villa that belonged to the Ryūkyū royal…

  • Yonehara Beach

    Yaeyama Islands

    On the north coast along Rte 79, Yonehara Beach is a decent sand beach with a good bit of reef offshore. Hire snorkel gear (¥1000) at any of the shops…

  • Sakibaru Beach

    Amami Islands

    This stunner of a beach lies about 4.5km up a point of land just north of Kise (about 20km northeast of Naze). Take a Sani-bound bus from Naze and get off…

  • Ōko-no-taki

    Ōsumi Islands

    On the west coast is Yakushima's highest waterfall, at 88m. It's a five-minute walk from Ōko-no-taki bus stop, which is the last stop for some of the…