Okinawa's largest city and its transportation hub, Naha is the gateway to paradise
Naha is the sister city of Hawaii’s capital, Honolulu, and you could be forgiven for confusing the two. Not only do they share similar climates and geographies, but Naha is also home to several US military bases and the majority of the US forces stationed in Japan, which means that English is heard around town nearly as often as Japanese. Visitors are treated to an interesting mix of Japanese, American and the local Ryukyu culture when it comes to food. Try taco rice or Spam musubi if you’re feeling adventurous. Several stretches of sand are readily accessible via public transportation, including Manza, Moon and Zampa Beaches, and on rainy days there’s local art and history to discover at the Okinawa Prefectural Museum.
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When to go
Naha is quite warm year-round, with temperatures rarely reaching the low teens, even in winter. However, clouds and rain can make it a bit too chilly for swimming in the winter months. Summer sees daytime temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius.
April to June is the rainy season in Naha, though this tends to bring scattered showers more than sustained downpours. Avoid the Golden Week crowds at the end of April and typhoon season in September.
Some notable festivals in Naha are the 10,000 Eisa Dancers Parade in early August and the Naha Great Tug-of-War, registered as the world’s largest tug-of-war event, in October.
Flying with Jetstar
There are multiple flights daily between Tokyo and Osaka, both of which offer connecting Jetstar flights to other domestic and international destinations.
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The Okinawa Monorail, also called Yui Rail, connects travellers to most major tourist sites. There are one- and two-day passes (¥700-1,200) that offer unlimited rides and discounts on tickets to several popular attractions.
The island’s bus system is extensive but can be hard to navigate without some Japanese. If you plan to travel beyond Naha, it may be worth renting a car.