First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa – Part 1

Detailed Road Trip Guide to Okinawa Japan for First Timers

First-timer Road-Trip to Okinawa

To most travellers, a trip to Japan are usually the mainstream cities like Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto or the winter wonder-island of Hokkaido. Unlike the key cities, Okinawa is less on the mind of most travellers heading to Japan. Personally, my interest in Okinawa was roused rather by pictures of Whale Sharks at the renowned Churaumi Aquarium. And also being a military enthusiast, the happenings at Kadena Air Base, which is the largest and most active US Air Force base in the Far East.

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

So it was with the recent resumption of direct flight by Jetstar that sealed my decision to explore this island that many likened as “Japan’s Hawaii”. And to better uncover the beautiful island, we decided that self-drive is the way to go. This travelogue is structured like a detailed road trip guide for first timers, with the telephone number of highlighted places as its needed to be keyed in the rental car GPS system. The travel route is easy for self-drive and the itineraries are suitable for families or couples alike.

A Brief Insight on Okinawa

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

Okinawa is the southernmost island in Japan, consisting of the main Okinawa Island, Miyako Islands and Yaeyama Islands. It is closer to Taiwan than it is to the Japan mainland. Also known as “Ryukyu,” Okinawa has a distinctive dialect, architecture and cuisine due to its close relations with China and Southeast Asian countries since ancient times. Local signature dishes such as Goya chanpuru, Rafute (Shoyu pork) and Umibudo (Sea Grapes) are a must-try when visiting the island.

After World War II, Okinawa had been governed by the U.S. until the 1970s and for this reason that American culture has been deeply rooted here. Through multicultural influences, today’s Okinawa exhibits a natural and unique appeal that differentiates it from mainland Japan. Touring in Okinawa includes sightseeing and shopping at numerous popular spots, particularly in the capital of Naha. These destinations include Shuri Castle, Naminoue Shrine and the bustling Kokusai Street called “Miracle Mile.” (excerpts from Odigo)

Road Trip Route in Okinawa

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

Our 7D6N road trip totalled about 800km. Part 1 of the blog covers our adventure in the laid-back northern part of Okinawa while part 2 details some activities you can enjoy in bustling Naha city. Some driving / rental car insights:-

  • Tip #01 – Please retain the receipt when pumping petrol. The rental car company may ask for the latest receipt when you return the car.
  • Tip #02 – Driving on Okinawa roads are generally safe as most drivers are law-abiding. Okinawa traffic rules are similar to Singapore and cars are right-hand drive.
  • Tip #03 – An international driving license is required, which you can apply online with AA Singapore. But your local driving license will still be needed for verification by the rental car company.
  • Tip #4 – Contact Jetabout Holidays as the agency will fully handle your self-drive itineraries planning and bookings, saving you valuable time from having to do your own research which is time-consuming and painstaking.


First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

The flight to Okinawa via Jetstar from Changi Airport T1. One of my fun photographic “ritual” is to get my wife push our daughters on the trolley. I have been doing this since they were little so it’s hilarious seeing them getting bigger by the trips.

Lunch @ Nakamura Soba

The eatery nondescript facade,  easily spotted from the main road.

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

After a 5.10hrs overnight flight from Singapore to Okinawa and about an hour drive from Naha Airport to our hotel at Manza Beach, we proceeded to have our first meal on the island. And what better introduction to Okinawa food than the fabulous soba at the popular Nakamura Soba (Telephone no. 098-966-8005), just 3 minutes drive from the hotel.  The soba noodles into which asa (sea lettuce) has been kneaded and the signature soki (pork rib) soba are favourites among customers.

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

The eatery is cosy and has an unobstructed view of the East China Sea. Complimentary water is served with the meal and the prices are easy on the wallet. This meal was one of our firm favourites on the entire trip.

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

After the meal, you can stroll a little at the esplanade along the windswept Manza Beach just across the restaurant to enjoy the cooling and strong sea breeze. My family was tickled by how their hair flew in the billowing wind. Definitely a fun start to our coastal phase of the road trip.

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

Just look at the sea breeze giving my daughter a “hair-raising” moment. Little wonder that there are wind turbine power generation plants on the island.

Local produce @ Okasigoten Onna 

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

From Nakamura Soba, you can enjoy Okinawa wide range of local snacks at Okasigoten (Tel:98-982-3388), just 4 min drive away. You might be forgiven if you drove past this venue without stopping (which happened to me) thinking its a shrine. The facade was in fact modelled after the Shuri Castle, an iconic heritage landmark that I will touch on in Part 2 of this blog.

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

What better way to know Okinawa than through your stomach? This huge snack and local produce shop will definitely set you in the mood. Feel free to sample tasting without pressure to buy, that is if you can resist the temptation and eye-catching display. But if you have planned to complete your Okinawa vacation in Naha city, then here is one useful tip – there’s a conveniently located Okasigoten branch at Naha’s famed Kokusai Street. So remember what you liked at this outlet, then resume shopping at the outlet at Kokusai Street without having to lug around boxes of snacks on your very 1st day in Okinawa. Tax-free shopping is available to foreign tourists at this licensed store when making purchases of over 5000¥ on each calendar day. Your passport is required for verification during payment as the staff will not accept handphone camera snapshot of passport. 

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

A staff loading the Okinawan Sweet Potato Tarts mixture into the automated machine.

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

Automated Okinawan Sweet Potato Tarts dispensing machine. I admit it was quite therapeutic just standing at the glass window watching the production line.

You might be keen to know that Okinawan sweet potatoes were considered a Superfood in 2010 by renowned nutritionists. This vibrantly purple sweet potato is rich in flavour and packed with health benefits. The Okinawan sweet potato is not related to potato but is actually in the morning glory family. It’s native to America and was introduced to Japan between 1492 and 1605. The versatile and hardy plant grew well in Japan and quickly became a staple in a variety of local dishes.

ANA Intercontinental Manza Beach Resort 

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

Our 1st hotel of the trip, the superb ANA Intercontinental Manza Beach Resort ( 98-966-1211). One look at the lobby is enough to tell you it is an exceptional resort. A great hotel to come back to after a fun-filled day out always refresh and prepares us for more adventures the next day. Some of the staff here speak competent English which makes the stay more pleasant as it minimises miscommunication and provides an excellent source of local knowledge. For drone owners information, be advised that droning is not permitted at the hotel.

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

The resort reception. IHG members get to check-in at a separate dedicated counter. Service was brisk with the staff ever so obliging. But English is not universally understood across all staff. There is a daily car parking fee of 1000¥ (S$12/day), which is waived for IHG members.* Do research other resorts that you planned to stay and see if they are affiliated with an international chain to save on parking. *Update November 2018 – Complimentary car parking fee is no longer available. 

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

Our family room with a view of the East China Sea. Cosy and comfortable with soft luxurious bed linen, the bathroom has powerful rainshower with Shiseido body care products. And great news for Singaporeans, there is ChannelNewsAsia too! WiFi  signal strength is good too.

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

Service with a difference – Pillow a-la-carte shows the hotel’s attention to sleep quality. Pillow has negative ions and other beneficial content.

Dinner at Gansomibudohonten (Ganso Sea Grapes)

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

Our first dinner at the Gansomibudohonten (Ganso Sea Grapes – Tel. no: 98-966-2588). Fabulous family run diner with many authentic Okinawan dishes under one roof.  There is a spacious parking bay (parking is F.O.C) just beside the diner.

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

The eatery has many compliments from happy diners pasted on the wall. I shot this picture only when all the diners have left, for privacy consideration. The staff speak only Japanese but you may refer to the menu with pictures, which are also posted on the wall. Google Translate app on your smartphone would be helpful in scanning and translating the wordings too.

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

The sashimi platter, though small in portion, was very fresh and reasonably priced. You may change the fish combination served subject to the season availability.

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

Amaebi, or spot prawns, are cold water northern shrimp and well-known and named as such for their sweet taste. They are the only species of shrimp which are best enjoyed raw, as cooking them will rob them of their full sweetness. They are often served on nigiri-zushi, or fingers of sushi rice and often accompanied with their head still attached.

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

Umibudou literally translates as “Sea Grapes.” It’s a kind of seaweed but instead of leaves, it has little bubbles growing on its stems. Thus the serving looks like small, green grapes. The bubbles burst on your tongue and release a slightly salty taste of pure Southern Sea freshness. This bursting of little bubbles is called “puchi-puchi” in Japanese, an expression recreating the sound of bursting small air bubble. Not many foods provide that “puchi-puchi” sensation on the tongue. Thus eating the umibudou is a unique experience.

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

Chanpurū is an Okinawan stir fry dish. It is considered the representative dish of Okinawan cuisine. The term “chanpuru” originates from the Malay or Indonesian word campur (pronounced “cham-poor”), meaning “mix”. Goya chanpuru is a type of mix-dish that is a popular and widely recognized dish in the Okinawan cuisine. It is a stir fry of bitter gourd, tofu, egg and sliced pork or luncheon meat. Oishi indeed !


First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

Lovely waking up to a fabulous view of the East China Sea with cooling 16°C sea breeze. Balmy climate like this makes Okinawa vacation a pleasant experience.

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

The restaurant beautifully prepared signature egg and cheese on toast. I always love Japanese chef attention to details and aesthetics.

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

The resort offers a good spread of delicious continental and oriental food to start the day right.

Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

The Churaumi Aquarium (Tel no.: 98-048-2741) is a part of the Ocean Expo Park located in Motobu, Okinawa. The aquarium is made up of four floors, with tanks containing deep sea creatures, sharks, coral and tropical fish. The aquarium is set on 2ha of land, with a total of 77 tanks containing 10,000 m³ of water. Water for the saltwater exhibits is pumped 24 hours daily into the aquarium from a source 350 m offshore. The main tank, called the Kuroshio Sea, was the largest such panel in the world when the aquarium was opened. Whale sharks and manta rays are kept alongside many other fish species in the main tank.The first manta ray birth at the aquarium was in 2007. As of July 2010, there have been a total of four manta rays born in the aquarium. It is one of only a few aquariums worldwide that keeps whale sharks in captivity and is currently trying to breed them.

A video of the Whale Sharks feeding session. Amazing to see the ocean “gigantic vacuum machine” at work, sucking in carefully prepared food. The aquarium displays two whale sharks as part of its effort to achieve the world’s first captive breeding of the largest fish on Earth. Jinta, a male Whale Shark and the two female whale sharks (1 in a sea pen) have grown 1.5 to two times in total length and four to eight times in weight since their sizes were measured at the aquarium when they began to be raised.

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

The various exhibits along the way to the main aquarium. Crowd numbers typical of a world-class attraction, as if the whole of Okinawa tourists converges here.

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

To seat at the Ocean Blue Cafe tank side tables, you need to reserve the seat subject to availability on 1st-come-1st serve basis. Duration is limited to 40min per session. Waiting time can take up to 20-30min.

Aquarium staff explaining the feeding session which comes on at 1500 and 1700 hrs daily. After the initial “Hello everybody!” in English, the rest of the talk was in Japanese. For a brief happy moment, I thought he was to speak in English. But it’s all good, you can simply enjoy by observation.

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

A huge gigantic squid specimen on display. Possibility a Humboldt squid?

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

A small group of big-eyed Travelly scouting their “territory”. The big eye trevally is a schooling species, known to form huge mass consisting of more than 1500 fish. The species is often seen in these large schools either stationary or slowly moving around the reef complexes they inhabit during the day. At night, these schools dissolve and the species become active, foraging for its prey during the nocturnal period. But I believe their characteristics changed in an aquarium setting.

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

Whale Shark sucking in the feed, made of carefully prepared shrimps. Whale sharks are actually sharks but similar to whales, are filter feeders and enjoy a diet of plankton and other small fish, so they are harmless to human beings.

Kouri Island 

Kouri Island is located north of Yagaji Island in the northern part of Okinawa’s main island.  It is a small inhabited island that belongs to Nakijin Island.  How small? Really tiny, with an area of 3.13 km² and a circumference of about 8 km, which you can cover the island in about 10 minutes loop by car. It’s linked to the mainland by a 2km long Kouri bridge – the longest open-road bridge in Japan.

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

Most visitors will check out the Kouri Ocean Tower ( 98-056-1616), a relatively new attraction opened in November 2013. The highlight of this venue is an automated cart ride paired with an audio-guide in English (or several other languages) to the hilltop lookout point. The ride costs 800¥ (S$9.70) per adult including entry to the tower. You can also choose to walk up the hill for free but the lookout point is limited to paid visitors.

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

Nice 7-8min drive slow ride up the scenic and landscaped hill on the automated driver-less cart.

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

The souvenir shops at the peak also feature more than 10,000 shells gathered from all over the world. If shells don’t interest you, I am sure you will be enthralled by the scenic panoramic views of the ocean and gorgeous sunset vistas (if you go at the right moment during dusk). The shop within the tower has various specialties like Kouri Sea Salt or Pineapple Cake. Free sampling is available here too.

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

The sunset can be spectacular from this vantage point at the lookout tower. Many visitors mark reaching the peak by ringing the bell here.

Dinner @ Ufuya-Okinawa Old Folk House

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

We were recommended to this restored quaint Okinawan heritage building which was the birthplace of Ufuya’s president. The name ‘Ufuya’ comes from the style of the Asato residence, president’s birthplace, where people would gather from long ago. Today, Ufuya  ( 98-053-0280) has become a world-class famous restaurant which enjoyed wide coverage by both local and foreign TV shows and magazines. It’s very popular and no reservation is accepted. So do go early as there’s usually a healthy queue.

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

If you want to enjoy the traditional Okinawan cuisine and the famous Agu pork, this is the place.

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

The soothing sound from a stream (possibly man-made installation) enhances the fine-dining ambience. But the tables were a tad cramp and packages on the menu can be confusing. Average meal about 20,000¥ for a family of four and possibly lower for a couple, depending on what the packages included.

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

Our dinner set and a la carte came meticulously and beautifully prepared. The Agu pork is certainly of high-grade as it melts in your mouth. Just remember not to overcook in the shabu-shabu.


Driving up north along Route 58

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

Day 3 saw us making our way up to northern tip at Cape Hedo area just about an hour drive from our hotel at Manza. It was lovely having the opportunities to stop wherever we chanced upon a scenic spot. This is the liberating advantage of a self-drive vacation. The drive is along Route 58 is easy and Okinawan drivers are generally law-abiding.

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

Of special mention are the see-everywhere Lawson convenient stores, which you will make your road trip that much more pleasant.  We prefer Lawson over Family Mart as the restrooms are cleaner and their products like onigiri, came clearly marked with a picture. And the staff are friendly too.

The wide range of food and beverages (also hot food) makes convenient stores like Lawson which opens 24/7 a boon for road-trippers.

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

Ubiquitous giant terrapods along some parts of the coastal area protects Okinawa coastal areas from tsunami.

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

Spotted a couple of fishermen sunning and airing their freshly prepared Mahi-Mahi fish in the sunny East China Sea breeze. And they were there keeping vigil to fan off any houseflies that come to the fish.

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

The Mahi Mahi fish catching the early morning sun. After the sunning session, it will be going to the market soon.

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

An encounter with a local Okinawan fisherman, he’s 63 years old. When we told him we are from Singapore, he went “Banzai Banzai! Singapore!”. Moments like this are what makes a road trip that much more memorable.

Yanbaru Kiuna Lookout Point

The lookout point at Yanbaru Kiuna Lookout Point (Tel no. 98-041-2101). Yanbaru Kuina is a protected endangered flightless that is found in northern Okinawa. This is a very remote spot that even most Okinawans may not know or go. We were brought there by ‘error’ GPS guidance. A very narrow 1-way route that got my daughters nervous.

Dai Sekirinzan Park

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

Our final activity for day 3 was Dai Sekirinzan (Tel. no:  980-41-8117) A karst, limestone plateau eroded over millions of years by water and estimated by geologists to be the oldest part of the island. Describing Dai Sekirinzan can be quite somewhat difficult -It’s a like a “3-in-1 park” – a geological wonder, nature reserve and great hiking and walking attraction.  Part of the cultural site with sacred shrines even purported to have the power to enable infertile women to have babies.

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

My fave butterfly pic of the journey,  a beautiful Ceylon Blue Glassy Tiger Butterfly.

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

A pair of shield bugs in a rather productive moment. Preparing for next generation indeed.

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

A customary shot of my family with the karst formation in the background. Do be mindful of the sharp edges of the rocks during trekking.

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

Pancake prepared with leaves from a plant in the park. The simple eatery is called Energy Cabin & Ashimui Café. It offers light meals and drinks made with natural ingredients.

Sunset @ the East China Sea (Route 58)

On the way back to our hotel, we were blessed to see the gorgeous receding light along Route 58, facing the East China Sea.

Life’s a journey, enjoy the views along the way. Only with a self-drive vacation can you do this.

Dinner @ Manza Table 

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

We could not locate a popular eatery on our suggested itinerary. So we proceed to check out a nice looking restaurant named Manza Table (Tel. no.  98-982-3218)  just across our hotel entrance and it was fabulous!

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

The Umi-budo- Okinawa sea grapes on a salad….Oishi !

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

The beef steak turned out pretty amazingly well that one helping was not enough.

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

Their deep fried squid was fabulous and I believe will convert non-seafood eaters.

First-Timer Road Trip to Okinawa

The Manza Table – you can choose dining in private room or the tables outside, either way, it’s a pretty cosy eatery.

Part One – Conclusion

Our first phase to the beautiful and idyllic Okinawa was surprisingly memorable. Spectacular coastline with turquoise blue water, abundant nature and wonderful cuisine, Okinawa proves it can hold its own in the travel landscape. It may not as “scenic” on a ‘surface level’ but it was just our first three days and there are so much more places to uncover. Be it for couples or families, Okinawa has something for anyone and everyone. You might like check out Part 2 of the trip here.

*Important Blog Update (1 Nov 2019) – Any readers enquiring on the trip with Jetabout Holidays, that their staff – David Chua, has had his employment with Jetabout Holidays terminated effective 31 Oct 2019, for inappropriate conduct and business dealings. The case has been  reported to the authority and currently under investigation. 

Many sincere thanks for coming along my pixels journey.  Should any readers be keen to go on a similar self-drive trip in the future, please feel free to drop me a message or check out Jetabout Holidays package HERE!

Footnote: All pictures used in this travelogue are copyrighted to Jensen Chua Photography and all rights reserved. The opinion expressed is factual, objective and that of the author. The trip is non-sponsored.


  1. Marie says:

    Its like you learn my mind! You appear to grasp so much approximately
    this, like you wrote the e book in it or something. I think
    that you can do with a few percent to power
    the message house a bit, however instead of that, that is wonderful blog.
    An excellent read. I’ll certainly be back.

  2. Brady says:

    An impressive share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a coworker who had been conducting a little research on this.
    And he actually bought me lunch because I found it for
    him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!!
    But yeah, thanks for spending some time to discuss this subject here on your internet site.

  3. Mahalia says:

    Appreciate this post. Will try it out.

  4. techno gears marble mania glow in the dark galactic adventure says:

    An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a friend who had been conducting a little research on this. And he in fact bought me lunch due to the fact that I discovered it for him… lol. So let me reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending some time to discuss this issue here on your blog.

  5. Jason says:

    Nice work getting nominated by Social Buddy! Your blog is great and well deserved.

  6. JohnSBagozzi says:

    I’m extremely impressed together with your writing skills and also using the layout on the blog. Could this be a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? In either case keep up to date the nice quality writing, it’s rare to view a great blog similar to this one today.

  7. EveSKvilhaug says:

    you’re actually a just right webmaster. The website loading speed is incredible. It sort of feels that you’re doing any unique trick. Furthermore, The contents are masterwork. you’ve done a great activity in this matter!

  8. JoeRPuraty says:

    Every weekend i used to pay a visit this site, as i want enjoyment, for the reason that this this site conations genuinely pleasant funny information too.

  9. kikki k personal zip planner says:

    I was recommended this website through my cousin. I’m not certain whether or not this submit is written through him as no person else recognise such exact about my problem. You’re wonderful! Thanks!

  10. AndyFFruit says:

    I think this can be one of the most important information for me personally. And i am just glad reading your article. But wanna remark on few general things, The site style is wonderful, the articles is absolutely nice : D. Good job, cheers

  11. Beau Vesely says:

    “This site was… how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I’ve found something that helped me. Cheers!”

  12. effective marketing on the net says:

    Good post. I learn something new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon everyday. It will always be helpful to read articles from other authors and use something from other sites.

  13. Mark Birnell says:

    You’re so interesting! I do not believe I’ve truly read through something like that before. So great to discover somebody with a few original thoughts on this subject matter. Really.. many thanks for starting this up. This site is one thing that’s needed on the web, someone with a little originality!

  14. Nicholas says:

    Hi Jensen

    Read your blog and is very detailed and useful. Is it easy to find petrol station in Okinawa?

    Is it a requirement there to have a car seat?


    1. Jensen says:

      Hi Nicholas , no worries about petrol station, all sited within convenient distances. About the car seats, it’s required by laws (as in most countries) for safety. But don’t recall seeing any traffic policeman on my trip.

  15. Mike says:

    Hi Jensen, I’m planning a road trip with my family (my wife and 2 teenage boys) in November. I’ve read several blogs on road trip to Okinawa but none was as detailed as yours. Many have shared that driving in Okinawa is generally safe. I’d like to ask, during your trip did you avoid toll or you just chose the shortest/fastest routes to reach the destinations? What would the temperature be like during that time.

    Thank you.


    1. Jensen says:

      Hi Mike, thanks for your message. Generally, I just use the route referred by the in-car GPS. There is few toll gate in Okinawa (in the north seaside resort area, only 1 toll gate that I remember, that u can escape using other route). But in Naha city itself, there is also few toll gate. I would recommend leaving car at your hotel carpark and walk around the main stretch of Kokusai. Drive the car only when u visit the surrounding attraction out of town.
      Temp is cooling at 15-16’C in Oki around Nov. A cardigan should be sufficient.

  16. Renee says:

    Hi Jensen,

    Can I check which month did you go? And what was the weather temperature like then?

    And if you have managed to get any snorkeling done?


    1. Jensen says:

      Hi Renee, I visited Okinawa in early December. The weather was a lovely and cooling at 15-17’C during daytime… the wind make it feel like cooler though. A cardigan would be sufficient. We didn’t go snorkeling as we did other activities. But you can if you want. However, I wud recommend snorkeling on the warmer months during Mar-May… better viz , etc. Do check out Jetabout Holidays Okinawa packages…many readers have read my article and go their trip..(can change if you want) and all are happy 🙂

  17. Peter says:

    Hi Jensen, as the jetstar flight back to Singapore is 9am (means we have to reach naha airport at 7am), how did you return the car? Was the car rental company open before 7am?

    1. Jensen says:

      Hi Peter, I returned the car the night before. The car rental have free shuttle to bring you to the airport and from there, you can catch a tram ride (tram station attached to the airport) to Naha city (if you are staying there. 300Y 1 way/20min) Do retain the last petrol top up receipt as the rental firm may ask for it. You can ask your hotel receptionist to arrange for a taxi to pick u to the airport (about 1400Y) the next morning, to reach the airport by 700-730am (the airport closes at night and reopens about 7am, so no need to be too early). There is limited eatery at the departure lounge (only 1 snack stall, during my trip there).

  18. frank says:

    when is the period that you go?

    1. Jensen says:


  19. Jensen says:

    hi Felicia, great that you will be heading there soon 🙂 .. I rented the WiFi router with Changi Recommends. About S$15/day… do check if they have promo. Have a fabulous trip. Do share your trip on my Facebook page if you like..

  20. Felicia Png says:

    Hello Jansen! Enjoyed reading your post on Okinawa. We are heading there in a couple of weeks. Just to check, how did you get connected? – I meant data and all. Im on Starhub and thinking of getting data but not sure if it is compatible with the telcos there. Hope to hear from you soon!

    1. Jensen says:

      hi Felicia, great that you will be heading there soon 🙂 .. I rented the WiFi router with Changi Recommends. About S$15/day… do check if they have promo. Have a fabulous trip. Do share your trip on my Facebook page if you like..

  21. Caleb Law says:

    Hi Jensen, I have just confirmed my trip with Cindy!

    1. Jensen says:

      That’s great Caleb. have a great vacation. 🙂

  22. unicorn onesie near me says:

    Appreciate this post. Let me try it out.

  23. Caleb Law says:

    Hi Jensen, we are planning for our Okinanwa trip this Dec 2018 and glad that i chanced upon your blog. Would like to check do Jetabout Holidays booked your air tickets or just the road trip with car rentals + hotels?

    1. Jensen says:

      Hi Caleb, thanks for your enquiry. Yes, Jetabout handled my Okinawa A-Z. The only things we did differently was making impromptu stops along the coastal drive whenever we see something that interest us. We were also given a suggested itineraries list which we followed 98% of the way. All was smooth and fun. My daughters asked for a repeat trip to Okinawa. Have fun, cheers.

      1. Caleb Law says:

        Thanks Jensen. I have dropped Cindy a mail last night. Any number to contact her directly?

        1. Jensen says:

          Hi Caleb, did u email her directly at ? I need her approval for hp in view of PDPA laws.

          1. Caleb Law says:

            Hi Jensen, yes to her


          2. Caleb Law says:

            Hi Jensen, should I book my air tix first?

          3. Jensen says:

            Hi Caleb, for any overseas trip, my 1st priority is to get the flight confirmed. Then the resorts…Yes, u should confirm the flight 1st if your schedule are firmed up.

  24. austin says:

    You mention about car rental through, but seems it is always fully booked. do you have any other rental contacts?
    Also i prefer to self drive with 2 toddlers, you mention Jetabout did all your travel arrangement. How does that work? they booked all accomodation and include F&B and you self drive?

    1. Jensen says:

      Hi Austin, Luft is one of the most competitive car rental firms. Guess that’s why it’s so popular. Afraid Jetabout Holidays arranged all itineraries for my family from A-Z. But along the way, you may deviate a bit to suit your likings or if you see something interesting (like sunset along the coastal drive) and like F+B adventure in Naha city. Do email Cindy at Jetabout Holidays for assistance –

  25. Dawn Lim says:

    Hi Jensen, googling about Okinawa and so glad I came across your blog. Understand you did a 3 nights coastal area and 3 nights Naha. I am doing a 8D7N, due to cheaper flights options 🙂 From your opinion, should the extra day be spent in Naha or the coastals? I have 2 teenage SONS so shopping will be minimal but they are big on food…

    1. Jensen says:

      Hi Dawn, hope u enjoyed my Okinawa blog. I unable to say which is better for you, bearing in mind your teen sons are not into shopping. The coastal and Naha each have their attraction and vibes. But if you are big on food, then perhaps Naha would be a better choice bearing in the choices of food options. That said, the laidback coastal areas are something close to my heart as they are more scenic and peaceful, and food choices are not too bad either (provided you are on self-drive) and can explore the area for the food adventure. Best google for “exotic” dining opportunities in the coastal or city and decide from there. Have a great vacation .

      1. Dawn says:

        Hi Jensen, appreciate your reply which I missed earlier. As i am preparing for the tel and codes to be keyed in to the car’s GPS, google map also showed me some routes required to pay tolls- like from Naha to InterConti – did you rent the ETC or just pay cash at the toll counter? or did you take the longer routes?

        1. Jensen says:

          Hi Dawn, I don’t remember paying toll gate from Naha to ANA Manza.. there was only 1 occasion i need toll gate , that was from the Cape Hedo back to hotel for dinner…and that’s because i entered the toll road by mistake. Which I paid at the booth with cash.

        2. Jensen says:

          Hi Dawn, on recollection, i did paid toll gate using cash. I understand the auto-deduction gadget will require a deposit. As there is not much toll gate, I just pay with cash and didn’t waste much time at the toll booth. Do check with Jetabout Holidays if u booked trip with them.

          1. Dawn says:

            Thank you Jensen for the update. Think we will do likewise, pay cash instead of getting the ETC and avoid toll roads as much as possible 🙂

  26. Spencer says:

    Hi Jensen,

    From your blog, it appears that you rented a car at Naha Airport but return the car in Naha City. Is this correct? Which car rental agency did you use and which location did you return the car in Naha City? Can you advise?? Thanks.

    1. Jensen says:

      Hi Spencer, the car rental company representative fetch us from the airport in a minibus to their company a short drive from the airport, which is where I return after the trip. U may contact Jetabout Holidays as they arranged for me.

      1. Spencer says:

        Thanks for your reply. Were you ‘car-less’ when you are in Naha city during the last segment of your trip?

        How is the weather in late Nov/Dec (which I think you were there). Is it too cold to be at the beach?? Thinking of doing a photo shoot of wife at the beach…


        Woon Chong

        1. Jensen says:

          Hi Spencer, no, we had our car in Naha city, which we used to travel to various attractions from our hotel, like Okinawa World, etc. Plse note that most hotels charges carparking at the hotel (about 1500Y daily) payable upfront when checking in. We subscribed to free IHG membership so we had free parking at ANA Manza hotel (1000Y daily). The Nov/Dec is fabulously cool and sunny (+ windy). 1 last advise is to book trip via Jetabout as they have good arrangement with the vendors at Okinawa. You won’t pay more than online rates. Cheers

          1. Caleb Law says:

            Hi Jensen, how to subscribe to IHG membership? Cindy and David has nicely arranged this trip for me.

          2. Jensen says:

            Sorry for late reply, was overseas. Understand Cindy has assisted in the IHG registration?

  27. Lin says:

    Hello Jensen,
    I was reading up on Okinawa trips and came by your blog. I really like your photos. I am asking questions outside of trips… just wondering what is your cam setting for getting photos with focus on closed up object with blurred background? Your photos are all nicely done. You think a Nikon D5500 can achieve such effect too? Thanks.

    1. Jensen says:

      Hi Sam,
      Thanks for your message and compliment. Your cam should be able to achieve the blurred background. I use telephoto lenses to compress the perspective and use widest aperture avail to achieve the limited depth of field (blurriness or bokeh as some call it). If u use wide angled lenses, go close to the subject. U might like have a read of my article on food.. it covers partly on the background blurriness –

  28. Frances says:

    Hi Jensen. thanks for the great post! Please share with me the car rental company that you use. Thanks in advance!

    1. Jensen says:

      Hi Frances,
      Thank u, glad u like my blog. U can check out
      I am not sure if they will entertain direct booking as Jetabout did all my travel arrangement. But you might like to try.
      Have a fabulous trip.

      1. Frances says:

        Thank you! I will be going for 8 days in Oct. Any other places in okinawa would you recommend? I am planning to stay 2 nights at Manza Beach area and 3 night in Naha City.

        1. Jensen says:

          It’s against my principles to recommend places that I did not go to, that would be unprofessional too. I followed the itineraries curated by Jetabout and was happy it was great. the only deviation was the fishermen sunning their fish along the highway and that gorgeous sunset by the coast. If u are on self-drive… explore… relax.

  29. Adeline says:

    Hi Jensen, can you please let me know the type of room you booked at ANA Intercontinental Manza Beach resort? I can’t find any family room in the hotel website.

    1. Jensen says:

      Hi Adeline, my ANA Intercon booking was done by my travel agent – Jetabout Holidays. You can’t get that online. It’s a quad share room. You can email Cindy at They have special rate.

  30. Joyce says:

    Hi Jensen, read your blog and it is very useful. Could you list down the names of the hotels you stayed in and for how many days? Thanks!

    1. Jensen says:

      Hi Joyce,
      Thanks for your enquiry and glad you find my blog useful. The resort I stayed 3 nights at the northwestern seaside area is ANA Intercontinental Manza Beach Resort. Try to get a room that is on the 8th floor for a great sea view.
      For the Nana stay, I stayed 02 nights at Community & Spa Naha Central Hotel. Make sure you get the new wing room. Better security and new rooms. A bit cramp (my was quad sharing) but still comfy. Bkfast at this hotel not great..just edible. But just 3-4mins walk to the Kokusaidori …very convenient.

  31. Alex says:

    Read your travelogue on Okinawa and interested to try a self drive holiday there. From the picture I can’t tell the car is a Toyota what model? I have family of four – can the car take four mid sized luggage? Is car too big for Japanese road and car park lots? Thanks

    1. Jensen says:

      Hi Alex,
      Thank you for your message. It is a Toyota Wish. It should accommodate your family luggage adequately, no worries. The car is ideal for the Japanese roads and car parks, no worries. The car GPS voice command is very assuring and sips fuel frugally. But do take note should you enter the lanes of villages by mistake, drive slowly and navigate carefully as it will be tight, but still ok. U won’t generally go into those lanes. Have a fabulous vacay in Okinawa. This is my Facebook link to that road trip –

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *