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TokyoTreat Japanese Snacks BlogThe Best Okinawa Islands to Visit!

The Best Okinawa Islands to Visit!

Karina IkedoKarina Ikedo
Published Time
Posted on 
June 30, 2023
A hut on one of the Okinawa Islands.

Far from the bustle of Japan’s busy cities lie the islands of Okinawa. Japan’s southernmost prefecture is home to more than 150 islands and is known for its balmy weather and gorgeous beaches. Due to its diverse geography, island-hopping is one of the best things in Okinawa.

Each island has a different feature and attracts a considerable number of tourists. Of course, it could take a lifetime to explore all islands. So if you’re wondering which ones to visit, here’s a list of our top picks!


Ishigaki Island is among the largest in Okinawa’s Yaeyama Islands. Moreover, it’s famous for its hilly terrain with many trails and nature experiences. Ishigaki is also home to the famous Mount Omoto, the tallest mountain in Okinawa. It’ll take around 90 minutes to reach the summit, and you’ll pass a scenic waterfall along the way. But if you’re looking for something less strenuous, stroll along the Yonehara Palm Tree Groves.

A cape on Ishigaki Island.
A lot of people go to Ishigaki Island for world-class surfing. Image via Shutterstock

This laidback island boasts some of the region’s most beautiful beaches and excellent snorkeling and diving. The town center also features a lot of hotels and lively restaurants and is an excellent place to stay.

Taketomi Island

Taketomi Island is a destination for those who want an authentic cultural experience. The island is best known for its charming site of the preserved, traditional Ryukyu village. Admire its historic houses, topped with red-tiled roofs, adorned with shisa statues, and encircled by stone walls. Luckily, the island is small enough to explore on foot, by bike, or on a cart pulled by water buffalo.

A bunch of yellow flower bushes on Taketomi, one of the Okinawa Islands.
Taketomi Island has a lot of sandy beaches. Image via Shutterstock

The beaches are also worth a visit for a dip in the ocean and to check out Okinawa’s star-shaped sand. If you want to splurge, Taketomi is home to the luxurious Hoshinoya resort.

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Kerama Islands

The Kerama Islands are a group of 36 islands that form a national park with stunning Okinawa beaches and natural attractions. Beautiful clear waters with the highest level of transparency worldwide will surround you! You can enjoy swimming, snorkeling, sunbathing, paddle boarding, and beachfront relaxation here. If you dive into the waters, you will discover an abundance of coral reefs in front of you. A sight to behold and remember! 

A bunch of flowers on one of the Kerama Islands.
The Kerama Islands offer some of the best scuba diving in Okinawa. Image via Shutterstock

From January to March, you can go on a whale-watching boat tour to glimpse these majestic creatures. In addition, the islands have observation decks with panoramic views of the surrounding islands and sea. 

The ferry to reach the largest islands in the archipelago takes only 30 minutes to 1 hour from Naha. But if you can’t bear to leave this paradise, there’s plenty of accommodation on the islands. 

Miyako Island

Miyako Island is another hotspot for beachgoers, home to some of Japan’s most breathtaking shorelines. It’s the perfect place to indulge in the ultimate Japanese beach experience.

A pristine beach on Miyako Island.
Miyako Island is covered in sugar cane fields. Image via Shutterstock

Thanks to its intriguing underwater topography, it’s also known as the diver’s delight. Head to Yoshino Beach for snorkeling; the area boasts a fantastic array of colorful fish and other marine life. If you prefer a lazy dip instead, Maehama Beach is known for its long stretches of sand and beautiful sunset. 

Ie Island (Iejima)

Ie Island is often called the “flower island”, and for a good reason, blossoms are abundant here. It’s where botany fans see thousands of colorful varieties of unique and exotic plant life. 

Pay a visit to the Hibiscus Garden, home to over 1,000 colorful varieties of flowers. The lily garden also showcases over 90 varieties of lilies worldwide, including pure snow-white Easter lilies. Every spring, the island hosts the annual Ie Island Lily Festival. During this time, you’ll see these gorgeous blossoms in full bloom.

A beach on Iejima aka Ie Island.
Iejima is mostly flat. Image via Shutterstock

Japan’s secret tropical paradise of Okinawa nestles 150 islands, each with unique places and landmarks. From hiking to sacred sites, diving, beaches, and even festivals, Okinawa islands offer endless things to see and do! Choose the perfect destination for your unforgettable Okinawa experience! Have you been to one of the great islands of Okinawa before? Do you have a favorite one? Let us know in the comments below!

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