We went to Okinawa for a 4-day trip during the beginning part of Golden Week 2021. Golden Week is a series of national Japan holidays that normally starts at the end of April and ends at the beginning of May. For this Golden Week trip, I booked places in Okinawa, then just did things near where we stayed. Did not rent a car. Did everything by bus and just walking, and with the right amount of sunscreen, it’s way more fun!
Osaka to Okinawa is a 2-hour flight. To go to the airport in Osaka, we rode a limited express train from Namba station. Purchasing the train ticket somewhere near the ticket gate is cheaper than just buying it using IC card (at least that was the ticket guy said). We purchased the airplane ticket online from Jet Star. It has an online check-in so we did it the day before the flight. If online check-in is done, you don’t need to check-in using their kiosks in the airport. But being the baka gaijin that we are, we still did it (hahaha) but the printed out paper indicated that we already have checked-in, so we went to Online Check-in line, got our carry-on bags weighed in, and there was no identification process done all throughout the trip to the plane.
Arrived in Naha Airport at around 11:00 AM. Since ICOCA, SUICA, and other IC cards do not work there, we bought OKICA (Okinawa IC Card) in the IC card store inside the airport (just ask someone in information booth as to where you can find this). The card is worth 500 yen plus additional amount to initially charge it.
We rode a bus to the place where we stayed on the first day which is Condominio Makishi Annesso located right in the heart of Naha City. We got there earlier and check-in time was still at 3:00 PM so we decided to eat first. Ate in a place with nice ambiance but got no customers yet (I think we were the first customers). Went inside this restaurant, and a waitress happily guided us to our seat. Funny thing was, we were told that sitting in front of each other was not allowed, but sitting beside each other was okay. We just thought that it was an unnecessary COVID-19 prevention thing because a) we came together, and expect that we had or will have way more interaction before and after going to this restaurant b) sitting beside each other is even closer than sitting in front of each other. Anyway, all the foods were good. Tried goya, and some other Okinawan food, and drink. After the first meal of the day, still early for check-in, we went to a café with a small bell to get the attention of the waitresses. Checked-in to the hotel (finally!), then had some chill. After some times of just chill, we decided to go out to the First Makishi Public Market, and the first day of the trip started from here (haha).
Day 1: Choose your fighter
The market is near our hotel so we just walked to get there. There are a lot of mini restaurants in the 2nd floor of the fish market building. We had dinner there, and decided to do bar hopping afterwards. Just ask the server any Okinawan drink suggestion and get it. Out of all the bars that we visited that night, LION CLIP bar was by far the best and memorable. It only has a normal, (kind of) outdoor drinking place ambiance, but when we got there that night, it was just loud and lively. We were first told that they are closing, so we walked around and tried to check other bars, but found nothing interesting. Then, someone from that bar (I believe he’s the owner) approached us, and told us that we can still order, and, of course, we did. It was fun because we shared drinks with the locals there. This one drunkest dude told us like “とぅっくぃぐゎー ” (toukkui gwa). We, even the younger locals there, didn’t understand it. うるさい (urusai; noisy/lively), drunk, and おもしろい (omoshiroi; interesting/fun)! Just my type of fun.
These are the only photos of the first day fighters (/drinks), but I believe we had more, and just didn’t bother to take a picture anymore.
By the way, after going all over the internet, “とぅっくぃぐゎー” seems to just mean “sake bottle” in Okinawan rare dialect. I found in some site that “とぅっくぃ” (tokkui) means sake bottle, and it’s rarely used even in Okinawa. The “ぐゎー” (gwa) part, on the other hand, seems to be like “やん” (yan) in Kansai dialect (not really sure though, but check this site), and I think it’s not really important in that word.
Day 2: Find your Nemo
We went to the second floor of First Makishi Public Market again, and had our breakfast there. We had a very big meal to prepare for the day. After that, we got in to a bus to Onna where our next place to stay (克三郎ハウス KOKUSABUROUHOUSE) is located, which took us around 2 hours to go there. We met with the house owner and checked-in. I searched for dead bodies (just in case) in all of the drawers and cabinets. It was clean, and no dead bodies were found. We chilled for a little while before changing to beach-weather-appropriate clothes. We applied some sunscreen, and walked to the beach which just took us around 14 minutes. In the beach, we did snorkeling which was the highlight of this day.
I booked this Okinawa Blue Cave Snorkeling listed experience in AirBnb. I didn’t really know how to swim and I’m afraid of what’s under the water so I was kind of hesitant to book it, but it turns out to be a really great experience. It was scary at first, but life jacket and floaters gave me temporary courage to do it. We were in a group, and the event host guided us all throughout the snorkeling trip. We saw fishes in different sizes and colors, and of course we saw them pooping (their poops just floating away in the water as they do it hahaha). We went into this cave. It was dark, cold, and scary but manageable (again, thanks to life jacket!).
The event host took pictures of us all throughout this trip. Here are some of them!
I needed to pee so badly that I asked the event host if I can go back first. She was okay with it, accompanied me back to the shore, and took out my fins. When I went out of the water, I started stripping, taking off the wet suit in the process so I’ll be ready when I finally managed to get myself into a toilet bowl. This was the scariest and the most challenging part of this trip because I needed to hold it in, and the toilet was quite far from the snorkeling place hahaha. So lessons learned, pee a lot before putting on that wet suit!
Day 3: Do your own thing
Nothing much happened on this day. We just decided to try the restaurants nearby, walk around, stay in the beach, and enjoy the view.
First, we went to KEN’S BEACH FRONT CAFE. I wanted to go there because I checked in their site that they have a live band playing, but when we got there, there’s none because maybe we went in the wrong time. Anyways, I didn’t expect it to be a Filipino restaurant, but it was. Their menu offers some Filipino and non-Filipino dishes. I was happy because it was quite some time since I ate some decent Filipino foods, and we got to sit outside in the nice sunny weather, wind blowing gently, and beach in front our view.
After eating, we went to the beach, stayed there for a while, and walked around. Everything’s alive in the beach. We saw some dick-like thingy, and other weird living things around. We slightly got hungry after moving around so we went to this Italian restaurant (Pizzeria da ENZO), and just ordered dessert. Then we went back to the beach again to see the sunset in its むらさき (murasaki; purple) state.
Day 4: Run your ass out
Last day in Onna so we checked-out from 克三郎ハウス KOKUSABUROUHOUSE. Since we didn’t try their main dishes on Day 3, we had our breakfast at Pizzeria da ENZO. According to an Italian dude, the food was not even Italian, but it was still good food. We walked around again to go to Ryukyu Mura. It took us around 20 minutes (it’s normally just 10 minutes, but we had our stops on the way). On the way, we saw local café, and decided to try their Okinawan fruit drinks. We also passed by a local コンビニ (conbini; convenience store) so we went inside, and bought some food for the bus trip back to Naha. Speaking of convenience stores, there are no Lawson, 7-Eleven, Family Mart, or other known convenience stores nearby. The nearest convenience store is around 30 minutes by bus. We arrived at Ryukyu Mura, and bought a ticket to get inside the place. Just my own honest opinion, this part of the trip was unnecessary, just plain boring, and not an おすすめ (osusume; suggestion/recommendation) because there’s nothing much to see inside. We went out of the place after looking around for a little while, and just waited for the bus in the nearby stop.
For the last day’s main highlight, we went to Umikaji Terrace Senagajima. It’s just near the airport so it’s best to visit this place. Good place, good view, and good food! We got distracted by the food and the sunset that we almost missed our plane.
By the time we arrived in the airport (we powered walk our way to the counter haha), all check-in baggage counters were already closed. Good thing that we don’t have any baggage to check-in, so they just let us into the check-in counter even though it’s supposed to be closed. Baggage inspection was not crowded this time because we were late (yeyy! haha). Although the experience and the thrill was fun, I definitely don’t wanna do it again.
Here are some food, desserts, and drinks that we tried during our whole Okinawa trip.
These are some pictures of interesting シーサー (shiisaa; lion/dog statue/artifact/decoration) that we saw all along the trip. Shisa are often seen in pairs, and they are believed to provide protection from evil spirits (open-mouth Shisa) and keep good spirits in (closed-mouth Shisa).