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Friday, 13 October 2017

Okinawa Trip Master Post

Hey everyone, I just came back from Okinawa and it was great! I spent about a week there with my sister and I have so much to share (and I just realised I haven't even blogged about my birthday, yikes!). While I'm going through the photos, I thought I'd write down the itinerary and a quick summary of the places we stayed in.

I will probably be recapping each place by place (probably one or two places per post) but if you're interested in reading a day by day recap, my Dayre has that. This is the link to the first day and you can just keep clicking from there.

For now, this is our itinerary. My sister and I don't like to rush, so we didn't go to that many places each day. Also, my sister had two days of diving so I did my own thing then. I think that it's totally possible to do everything we did even if you don't have as much time. Also, we didn't have the budget to go to one of the other islands, so this is just for the main island.

Day 1: Naha (touchdown 1pm)
- Tida Beach Parlour
- Bukubuku Tea
- 首里金城町石畳道 (Shuri kinjyo stone road)
Accommodation: AirBnB
Transport: Monorail

Day 2: Naha + Onna
- Makishi Market (and surrounding area)
- Okinawa Prefectural Museum
- Sis arrives and we go to Onna
Accommodation: Pension Weekend
Transport: Monorail + Rental Car

Day 3: Onna
- Sis dives (Day 1)
- Zakimi Castle Ruins
- Manzamo Cape
- Ryukyu Village
- Blue Diamond Cafe
- Kyoda Rest Area
Accommodation: Pension Weekend
Transport: Rental Car

Day 4: Onna
- Sister dives (Day 2)
- Busena Marine Park
- Afternoon Tea @ The Ritz Carlton
Accommodation: Pension Weekend
Transport: Rental Car

Day 5: Northern Okinawa
- Orion Happy Park
- Kouri Island Beach
- Yuiyui Kunigami Rest Area
Accommodation: Asahi Guest House
Transport: Rental Car

Day 6: Bus Tour
- Nago Pineapple Park
- Ryugujyo Butterfly Garden
- Churaumi Aquarium
- Okashigoten Nago shop
Accommodation: Asahi Guest House
Transport: Tour Bus

Day 7: Naha and surrounding area
- Shuri Castle
- Haebaru Aeon
- Okinawa World
- Ashibinaa Outlet Mall
Accommodation: Asahi Guest House
Transport: Rental Car

Day 8: Last Day
- Makishi Public Market
- Marvel: Age of Heroes Exhibition

Other Posts
Getting around Okinawa
Our accommodations

A note about diving
I didn't go diving, but my sister did and she highly recommends Piranha Divers Okinawa, which is the dive shop that she used. She did the Advanced Open Water Diver Course with them and she had a great time (and managed to get some amazing photos and videos). I'm still trying to persuade her to let me share the photos, but if you're looking for a diving course conducted in English, you should definitely consider them.

Quick Bus Tour Review
While my sister and I originally planned to go on two bus tours, we ended up going on only one (due to my inability to differentiate between the months). While I can't compare companies, here's a quick review of the tour we did go to.

We booked this tour through Veltra because:
1. There was supposed to be an English audio guide
2. The tour allocated 3 hours for Churaumi Aquarium
3. Lunch was included.

Our impressions of the tour were:
1. The English audio guide was severely lacking. There was an English introduction to Churaumi aquarium and the surrounding area, but nothing for the other stops (possibly because there was some trouble with the equipment at the start). Although the tour guide was very kind, she could only speak Japanese, so if you weren't traveling with a Japanese speaker, you're pretty much out of luck.
2. There was indeed 3 hours at Churaumi Aquarium and it was great! That said, I felt like there wasn't enough time allocated to the other attractions. I suppose it's a consequence of having many pick-up stops, but apart from Churaumi, the tour felt very rushed.
3. Lunch turned out to be Okinawa soul food aka Okinawa soba at the Ryugujyo butterfly garden. I thought it was enough but my sister thought that the soba didn't come with enough ingredients (it basically had one piece of pork and one fishcake).

Overall verdict:
If we were staying in Onna or somewhere that wasn't Naha and had a car, it would have been better to just skip the tour and drive to the various places ourselves. But since we were staying in Naha at that time and didn't rent a car, this was the most convenient way to go to those places. Still, I'd only recommend this if you know Japanese, plan to travel with someone who knows Japanese, or if you're comfortable not knowing what the guide is saying (they do have the time the bus departs written down, so if you google the places beforehand it's possible to just use this as a method of transport).

This is going to end up being a very link-heavy post, so here's a photo of a beach to break the monotony:

Right now, I plan to recap the places we went to + food we ate + one post on accommodation + one post on transport, so if there's anything else you'd like me to cover, let me know and I'll either add it to this post or make a new post for it!

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