Sparkling blue sea interrupted only by the occasional lush island could be viewed as we jetted towards Okinawa from Hong Kong. A daylight landing at Naha Airport and a quick walk to the OTS Rent a Car shuttle bus that took us to the Naha Airport OTS location (GPS 098-856-8877) a few minutes away from the airport. We were guided to our small Toyota rental car where instructions were provided in English and Japanese and a quick overview of the GPS navigation system and we were away!
Easiest way to use the GPS was punch in the phone number of where you were going and it would locate and start. Our guidebook was handy in that it provided info on locations as well as the phone numbers.
Half-way up island heading north we deciding to stop for dinner and try Okinawan Steamed Pork 沖縄料理しまぶた屋 (GPS 098-966-1450) in Onna. There is a burner on each table and a bamboo steamer which you put in the ingredients, vegetables, pork, etc and wait a few minutes while it steams cooked. A number of sides were also served like rice and pickles to compliment the main meal. Very good and a cool concept.
We arrived at the ANA Intercontinental Manza Beach Resort Hotel (GPS 098-966-1211), a luxurious hotel on Manza beach in Onna. The room 944 on the ninth floor was white with baby blue and light beige accents, very classy.
Waking the morning on the second day of our Okinawan trip, we opened the shades to a gorgeous view of the blue seas and white sands of the beach. Absolutely stunning! After a quick buffet breakfast in the hotel which had continental and Japanese plus some Okinawan foods, the real work began.
Set up the drone helicopter for some aerial shots and flew over the Intercontinental and Manzamou beach. It is quite a scenic location with lots of beaches and resorts.
The crystal clear waters of the shallow bay offered some spectacular shots and a few boats and kayakers were out enjoying the waters.
Exploring the island a bit, we grabbed lunch at Churaumi Umi Kitchen 美ら海水族館海洋博公園青パパイヤ (GPS 0980-48-4351) a few minutes drive from Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium. What a view, the open deck with bar seating area was fabulous, the food was served on a cast iron plate with sides. Quite a neat presentation and friendly staff at the restaurant.
The Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium (GPS 098-48-2741) did not disappoint. It is a huge aquarium set on the seashore. One of the nicer aquariums we have been to and well done displays.
Back in the car and the handy GPS directed us to Okashigoten Onnaten 御菓子御殿 恩納店 (GPS 098-982-3388). It is a Okinawa specialty pastry shop and this is one of their main locations, absolutely huge!
Well done displays, we loved the purple yam pastries and there were lots of samples. Not only pastries but Okinawan crafts and souvenirs with the Shisa (a creature from Okinawan myth) on prominent display. We bought some pastries nicely wrapped for gifts to give our friends at home and headed for dinner.
Ryuukyuunoushi restaurant 琉球の牛 (GPS 098-965-2233) is a steak, yakiniku restaurant which specializes in well marbled Okinawan and Ishigaki beef that rivals the famous Kobe beef knows worldwide. The meat is so well marbled it is like eating beef flavoured butter, which sounds sort of odd but very oishi!
The raw ingredients arrive at your table with a gas burner in the middle and you cook it yourself to taste.
After stuffing ourselves we headed to Moon Beach Palace Hotel (GPS 098-965-1020) which is on the west coast where we have spent the past few days and surrounded by the beautiful nature along with a crescent-shaped beach.
Close by was Sun Marina Hotel (GPS 098-965-2222) which has a spectacular beach and marina as well. I flew my drone over the area and got some incredible video of the area and the hotels.
Zanpamisaki Park 沖縄県中頭郡読谷村宇座 (GPS 098-982-9216), is a park a little further south on the west coast has a nice lighthouse 残波岬 on the point with a rugged coastline and cliffs.
At Onna Station おんなの駅 なかゆくい市場 (GPS 098-964-1188) we parked the car and had a meal at one of the food vendors there. There were some shops as well where we picked up some more souvenir goods for home.
Gala Glass Works 青い海 (GPS 098-958-3940) was recommended by friends and we stopped along our leisurely drive. Local craftsmen were making glassware in the factory which we could walk into and the shop has many beautiful glassware for sale made at the Gala.
Gala Salt Manufacturing Plant is right next door to the Glass Works (admission is free) where you can walk around and observe the stages of salt making from start to finish including a condensation tower where the sun aids in evaporating the water. The Brewing Center is where the creation of the first salt crystals begins, and finally the Solar Crystallization house, where glittering salt crystals are formed. There is a also a salt bar where you can taste various salts with mildly differing colours and textures and purchase as well.
Okinawa Peace Memorial Park 沖縄平和祈念堂 (GPS 098-997-3011) is located on the near the southern tip of Okinawa and sprawls over beautifully manicured lawns and museum structures. There is a museum on site dedicated to peace through the reality of war which was imposed on the population in late 1945 where a fierce battle took place on these islands.
The “Typhoon of Steel” lasted for ninety days disfigured mountains, destroyed much of the cultural legacy, and claimed the lives of upward of 200,000 people, 100,000 of which were civilians caught in the middle of the war. The Battle of Okinawa was the only ground fighting fought on Japanese soil and was also the largest-scale campaign of the Asia-Pacific War.
Venturing up north from the southern tip, The Yuinchi Hotel Nanjo (GPS 098-947-0111) is located in the middle of Nanjo city and situated on a Sashiki upland hills where there is a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean and has some great photo opps. Nanjo city according to some websites is the birthplace of Ryukyu people and origin of Okinawa’s history, culture and beliefs which is pretty cool.
As we drove along the coast we spotted a dock area (GPS 098-938-5811) パヤオ直売店 with a market. It was pretty rustic but had some of the freshest fish we have seen. A sign caught our eye and we decided to go for it, a whole lobster with rice and miso for 2,100 yen. Delicious!
Then we were off to Mihama American Village 美浜タウンリゾート アメリカンビレッジ (GPS 098-926-0222) which is a huge shopping and entertainment complex. There is a large ferris wheel popular for dates, kids, and spectacular views. Picked up some more items at a store there.
Off we went to Ashibinaa Outlet Mall 沖縄アウトレットモールあしびなー (GPS 098-891-6000) for some more shopping and a meal at a Okinawan noodle house then ice cream at Baskin Robbins.
Traffic steadily got busier on the roads as we drove into Naha City. We were staying at Mercure Hotel Naha (GPS 098-855-7111) and returned the car at the OTS Rental Car location right beside the hotel. The hotel is very chic, the rooms smaller, more Tokyo size but nicely appointed.
In the morning we caught the Naha monorail YUIRail and the guide book recommended a steamed bun place by one of the stations called Gibo Manju. We got off in Shuri Station in Shuri Kubagawa and found it after around a 10 minute walk, GPS 098-884-1764. It is a shop with a hundred years history where “The famous No Manju of Shuri” are sold.
The “No Manju” are steamed buns with a white exterior and a the red Japanese letter “No”. This stands for “Noshi” (origami decoration for celebratory gifts) and it is appreciated as a gift for luck.
The red bean filling is not that sweet so it makes a great snack even for those that do not like overly sweet pastries. Here is a map from the monorail station to the No Manju store.
Back to the monorail where we got off at a shopping area by Miebashi station and walked along Okiei Odori street and visited Naha Makishi Public Market (GPS 098-867-6560). Great selection of seafood and pretty well everything else. We picked a sashimi platter with lobster at one of the restaurants. A utilitarian place but the seafood was so fresh!
We shopped along the street and then took the YUIRail to Naha airport.
Goodbye Okinawa! We had a lovely time!