Okinawa Island by public transport!
October 1, 2018
Okinawa, the sunny island, full of history and culture. With people from many walks of life coming together. Many who have plans of visiting Japan might not think of Okinawa. But if you get the chance, do not give this a miss. Because there is something for everyone here.
Okinawa Domestic Airport.
Arriving at their international airport. Being people from this time and age, obviously, the very first thing we did when we landed was getting their pocket Wi-Fi.
It’s easy to locate their booth as there isn’t much in their international airport. Once you arrive head out and you will encounter a help desk/customer service desk. And you can inquire about their pocket Wi-Fi. Their staffs are friendly and will do their best to speak to you in English.
The pocket Wi-Fi lasts for about 8 hours a day, so be sure to always charge it fully before you head to bed. And in my opinion, I think it’s important to get Wi-Fi in Okinawa if you are traveling on their public transport like us.
Don’t get lost in Okinawa’s airport. Once you get your Wi-Fi head up and then out. Find the connecting bridge from the international airport to the domestic airport. It’s a link bridge outside of the building itself, walking alongside the carpark. In the domestic airport, it is where everything is located. You will find department stores as well as a food market area. And more importantly, the information counters as well as the monorail station.
Getting Around, Tourist Bus Passes
It’s a great deal for tourist as they have a 3-day bus pass that allows you to sit any bus except for the expresses and the airport transfers. Price is 5000Yen per person. They have another offer with the monorail one day pass. (You can choose to get this at the airport or at the Naha Bus Terminal)
As for the monorail, I recommend getting their transport card as it is more convenient. (This card allows you to pay for bus rides too) The monorail only travels around Naha, you won’t need to keep buying their rail ticket. Also, nearing the end of our trip we didn’t have the bus pass anymore, but we weren’t traveling a good far distance that required paying for another bus pass. Thus the card comes in super handy! (You can get this at any station via the machines)
Planning and using the bus pass to its full potential is the most important. As the passes only work for 3 consecutive dates. So discuss with your travel mates how you would do it!
Here is a rough timeline of our planning
Day 1, Monorail to Oroku station and back | Day 2, Walking | Day 3, Monorail to Shuri Castle, walking around| Day 4, Bus Pass to Nago Area | Day 5, Bus Pass to Yomitan Area | Day 6, Bus Pass to Chatan Area | Day 7, Bus (Using the Transport Card) to Itoman Area | Day 8, Solo day (I walked) | Day 9, Bus (Using the Transport Card) to Outlet Mall | Day 10, Monorail to Airport | I know that the last few days we took bus too but it did not amount up to 5000Y so it was not worth the price of the Bus Pass.
Where to stay: Asahibashi
We got an Airbnb located near the station Asahibashi. (I totally recommend the area if you don’t drive, like us!)
Reasons are, the airport is only 6 station away! About a 20-minute bus ride, so you can catch an early flight home without worrying about the transport.
But the best reason for me was that the Naha Bus Terminal is located right beside this station. From Terminal, you could get to almost everywhere in Okinawa. Though the station is currently undergoing construction they have a makeshift office space where their staffs will help you with any of your questions.
The last reason is that, well it’s a personal reason. The sea is only about a 30 minutes’ walk away! And although too many 30 minutes is far, I think the walk is beautiful because we get to see the town and the place as it is.
Once you are done settling in your hotel/Airbnb. Head to one of the malls to stock up on water and other goodies for your trip.
The nearest mall to Asahibashi is an Aeon mall located at Oroku Station. You can Japan snacks and goodies here. But bring a recyclable bag as their plastic bags are chargeable!
One thing I love about Japan is that their convenience store. Try out their packet food and onigiri as they are simply quite amazing. We fell in love with their fried rice onigiri. But if your Airbnb has a microwave, get the ones in the fridge as it’s cheaper with slightly more in them!
But the best thing is their vending machines. Conveniently located everywhere around the city (Be sure to be on alert as some have a small discount at all drinks 100Y)
If you have the time, take a stroll down the area. Generally, Day 1 here was chilling and it was just meant for exploring our surroundings.
Shopping District, Kokusai Dori
This is when the adventure begins!
We didn’t have to use our Bus pass yet, as we live in Asahibashi, we could walk to one of the shopping districts in Okinawa. 20 – 30 mins walk.
Kokusai Dori is a long street consisting of Restaurant, cafes, snacks, and souvenirs. In it, there is the famous First Public Market. If you are a lover of fresh seafood, here is the place for you!
We started to the right of the street. It’s possible to just stop at one store and most of the must-buy items of Okinawa is there. The good thing about Okinawa is that no matter where you buy it from, the price is more or less the same.
If you get a chance to try their famous salt biscuit, you must. It is delicious. I love the milk one, it’s tasty and not too sweet with a hint of salt. If you have a parent or you yourself love cooking and eating relatively healthy, take this chance to buy Okinawa Sea Salt. It’s one of Okinawa most famous products.
The first floor is their wet market, by the time we got there, there wasn’t any crowd left. However, the second floor was still bustling with tourist as that’s where the food store is. Most stores were crowded, but generally, they served more or less the same few dishes. We settled for a store and my friends ordered a Sashimi Platter, while I went for rice and egg. (Yes I know, but the truth is, I don’t like raw food)
We. . . . . got distracted and turned out of the street and headed to a pottery museum. I enjoyed the pieces and its form, however, most of the text is in Japanese so if you can’t read, be ready to just view the olden pottery. Photography is allowed in most parts, but they are sensitive when it comes to war pieces and they would suggest to you not to take any. Please respect their stories and their history too.
There were many pottery stores along the way, and many were filled with beautiful works. Drop into one of the stores and have a look at Okinawa Handicraft work!
After a short walk, we made it to a small ramen restaurant where you order from the coupon machine. We filled our bellies and that was our Day!