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Paradise In Okinawa: 8 Activities And Local Spots In Yomitan And Onna

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Longing for relaxation by the sea? Yomitan and Onna villages in Okinawa are famous for their beautiful beaches, waters ideal for ocean play, and delightful local charm. Read about what this paradise offers, and get ready to treat yourself to a laid-back vacation in Japan's most southern prefecture.

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Savor the Sea and Local Life in Yomitan and Onna Villages, Okinawa

okinawa yomitan onna

The villages of Yomitan and Onna are located centrally on Okinawa's main island. An hour away from Naha, a city usually bustling with tourists in Okinawa, the quieter Yomitan and Onna boast a hidden paradise of beautiful beaches and local charm.

With impressive natural attractions like Cape Maeda, combined with traditional cultural appeal, and a variety of one-of-a-kind eateries, the area is ideal for a vacation of relaxation and excitement. Read below to learn where to stay and things to do for a rejuvenating holiday in Yomitan and Onna.

1. Stay at Hacobune - Hide Away in Charming Beach Houses

onna, okinawa

A beach within a five-minute walk of Hacobune
Hacobune Resort, located just about one hour away from Naha Airport, offers rental vacation homes ideal for travelers looking for a local experience. The homes are just across the street from the beach and close by to eateries and attractions, making it a convenient but private way of enjoying Okinawa from an inside perspective.

hacobune tinyhouse

Those traveling alone, in pairs, or with a group of three are recommended to stay at the Hacobune Tinyhouse, a charming, renovated home with a spacious garden with tropical plants, and lovely sea-inspired interior (pictured above).

hacobune tiny house

Picture courtesy of Hacobune Resort
Despite its name, the inside is roomy and provides everything travelers need, with a full-sized refrigerator, cooking space, and a washer and dryer for laundry. The home is also dog-friendly.

hacobune okinawa japan

For those vacationing with kids or family, the Hacobune Family Type is a spacious, comfortable option located near the beach and the above property. Accommodating up to seven people with baby and kid-safe spaces, groups of all ages can savor an Okinawa vacation here.

hacobune okinawa

Both properties allow guests to barbecue
In addition to amenities like a full-sized refrigerator, cooking appliances, and a laundry/dryer duo, there is also a large yard and spacious barbecue area here, too, ideal for a freshly-cooked meal enjoyed al fresco (shown above).

The hosts of these properties are hospitable to guests and passionate about sharing local spots. Travelers can try a variety of activities, from snorkeling or diving at Cape Maeda to trying SUP, to backyard barbecues. These activities and places are introduced below: to fully take in the sites of Yomitan and Onna, most visitors will want to rent a car, as buses are inconvenient here.

Hacobune Resort Okinawa: (English support is available)

2. Swim with Tropical Fish along Scenic Cape Maeda

cape maeda snorkeling

One of the most notable landmarks in the area is Cape Maeda, a famous diving and snorkeling spot known for its blue-appearing cave, the Blue Grotto, and its abundance of tropical fish. This scenic spot is ideal for those looking to experience the beautiful waters in Okinawa, and many local instructors can help you have a spectacular time in the water.

snorkeling cape maeda

Pictures courtesy of Dive Center Isles
Your teacher will be Nao of Dive Center Isles, an experienced instructor, specializing in diving and snorkeling. He regularly guides beginners and first-timers through the gorgeous waters and will make you feel very comfortable, even if it is your first time. You will go out to the ocean either from the beach or via boat, and a wetsuit and flippers and snorkel are provided. Optional life jackets are also available.

The fish are very friendly and used to swimmers: you'll be able to see all types of tropical marine creatures close-up. The coral reefs below you are also spectacular.

cape maeda snorkeling

Pictures courtesy of Dive Center Isles
One option is to head to the Blue Grotto, a famous cave along Cape Maeda known for its glowing blue waters. There are several fish to be found in these shaded waters, too (see upper-right photo).

Snorkeling is a fun and easy activity for people of all ages and abilities, including young children (around age five and up), making this great to try with kids. In addition to wearing a life jacket, you can hold onto an innertube as Nao pulls you along. Just breathe into the snorkel and enjoy the underwater scene!

View More: Dive Center Isles (English support available)

3. SUP - Standup Paddle Boarding on the Sea

sup in okinawa

Picture courtesy of HALETA Ocean Support
Standup paddleboarding, or SUP, on Okinawa's calm waters, is another fun way to enjoy the ocean. HALETA, a local water sports company, offers SUP lessons during the day, sunset hours, and nighttime, each providing a dramatically different, but fantastic experience. SUP here is beginner-friendly and safe.

Participants will typically meet up at the HALETA office and store any bags or luggage securely before going. Your guide, Rento, will then take you to a spot nearby with ideal conditions for SUP. After arriving at the beach and learning the basics of getting on the board and paddling, it's time to hit the water!

First-timers and beginners will first sit down on the board before standing up. Standing requires balance and concentration, but you can and should relax your legs and adjust to any slight waves or changing water levels. (It felt a little bit like riding the subway in Tokyo to the author.)

sup okinawa

Picture courtesy of HALETA Ocean Support
Those signed up for the sunset SUP will get to take in a fantastic view of the water. The setting sun looks much bigger and brighter from the ocean's surface.

sup okinawa

Picture courtesy of HALETA Ocean Support

The night SUP activity will reveal the shallows by the beach in a very different way. A light attached to the bottom of the board illuminates the ocean floor, allowing you to see the coral reef at the bottom and even fish.

Also, if you are visiting during the summer in Okinawa, enjoying the water during the cool nights is a great option.

View More: HALETA Ocean Support (Inquiry form, English accepted)

4. Make Your Own Shisa

okinawa shisa making

Shisa are a traditional mystical creature found in Okinawa, resembling something between a lion and a dog. Originally created by roofers and given as a present to their customers, shisa have been around for hundreds of years, and are said to bring good luck and protect against misfortune.

Visitors can create their own shisa at pottery studios throughout the Yomitan and Onna areas. Those staying at Hacobune can walk about five minutes down the road to TAMA, a studio offering workshops in making shisa and other traditional Okinawan pottery. It is a simple but fun activity.

shisa making in okinawa

Shisa in-progress
As mentioned above, shisa have been part of the Okinawan culture for centuries. One shisa (a male, often with its mouth open) used to be more traditional, but it is more common now to see pairs (the female shisa has her mouth closed). You will choose which one to make and decide the mouth pattern, mane details, and everything else to make something unique.

Shisa and other products need to be baked and finished (taking between two to three months, usually), but the studio offers domestic and international shipping to participants, so you can have your Okinawan memory delivered to you at a later date.

View More: TAMA Shisa-Making Workshop (Japanese), TAMA Instagram (Japan)

5. Explore Zakimi Castle's Remains

zakimi castle ruins

Designated as a World Heritage site, the remains of Zakimijo, or Zakimi Castle, represent an essential part of the history of Okinawa. Although its main purpose is unclear, the structure is thought to have been built in the fifteenth century.


Its stone walls are all that is left behind today, but an in-person visit will astound you as you walk around the vast grounds, imagining how people used to live in the Ryukyu Kingdom.* Be sure to climb up the staircase to the tops of the walls to get a stunning view of the surroundings, and all the way out to the coast.

*Okinawa was originally not part of Japan, but existed independently before being occupied by outside countries, including Japan. The kingdom of Ryukyu lasted officially for 450 years, from 1429 to 1879.

6. For Deep Relaxation - Osteopathy and Bodywork

yomitan holistics

Craving rejuvenation? Look no further than Yomitan Holistics, an alternative clinic offering massage, osteopathy, Rolfing®︎, Esalen® Massage, Japanese acupuncture, and a variety of services combining eastern and western medicine practices. A visit here will leave your body, mind, and spirit feeling energized and refreshed. All will feel comfortable here, as the doctors have many years of experience, and English support is available, too.

yomitan holistics

The clinic is one of the few places in Japan and the world with such a large variety of bodywork courses offered by experienced professionals with certifications abroad. Simply relax and let your mind, body, and soul being soothed during a session––the writer tried a session with osteopathy and left feeling very calm and revitalized.

yomitan holistics

In addition to bodywork, there are options like yoga and guided fasting programs ideal for those looking to improve their health while in beautiful Okinawa. There are spacious, comfortable condominiums next door to the clinic where guests can stay and participate in guided fasting programs.

For anyone looking to rejuvenate not just their physical health, but their overall wellbeing, be sure to inquire directly about reserving a session or activity.

View More: Yomitan Holistics

7. Take Home Traditional Okinawan Ceramics

yomitanzan yaki

Yomitanzan-yaki is a traditional and well-known form of pottery in Okinawa and the rest of Japan. Loved for their simple, rustic design and durable practicality, Yomitan ceramics are made in this region due to the abundance of spring water, high-quality clay, and firewood.

Yomitanzan-yaki is referred to as "yachimun" in the local dialect. Head to Yachimun no Sato to buy pieces from the artists directly or at associated shops.

yomitanzan yaki

Around 19 studios are in this area and can be visited (operating hours vary by studio). The artisans here have trained for decades, and make everything from bowls to teacups, to small Shisa figurines, ideal to take home as a light souvenir. You'll find that most designs are modest, but bright accent colors, sometimes with animal designs, like fish and turtles, brighten up these charming pieces.

climbing noborigama kiln

There are also massive noborigama (climbing kilns) that you can see. These forms of traditional kilns have been used for many years to produce large batches of ceramics. The colors of the final product change depending on where the wares are placed in the kiln, so no two pieces come out the same.

Plan to spend an hour or two exploring the pottery village, and be sure to take something home you find to your liking.

8. Bite into Local Okinawan Cuisine

te-anda okinawa

Okinawan cuisine is known for its fresh, local ingredients and unique flavors not found on the main island of Japan. There are many places to enjoy locally-produced and famous dishes in Yomitan and Onna.

One must-visit spot is Ti Anda (above), a restaurant offering classic Okinawan dishes (the name refers to home-cooking). Diners can choose between fish, pork, and vegetables for their main dish in a meal set containing sides, rice, and soup. The dishes often include Okinawa ingredients like goya (bitter melon) and sea grapes (umi budo), making it a fun and tasty way to enjoy the flavors of local cuisine.

otonariya okinawa

For snacks, try to stop by a bakery or cafe. Otonariya is a popular local bakery known for its delicious natural yeast bread. The bread here uses local ingredients, and Okinawan flavors for a one-of-a-kind baked good experience. Several types are dairy-free, making them suitable for those with dietary restrictions.

Discover Your Home Away from Home in Okinawa

yomitan, okinawa

Okinawa is renowned for its white, sandy beaches, and food and culture unique from the main island of Japan, making it the ideal place for a relaxing stay. For a one-of-a-kind, comfortable experience, adventure to the lesser-known villages of Yomitan and Onna, and base your visit at one of the Hacobune properties. As mentioned earlier, rent a car for ease of transportation.

Recommended seasons to visit are January and February when the cherry blossoms are in bloom, and visitors can go whale watching. For those seeking good weather, enjoy the area in April, when the weather is ideal for sightseeing.

This article presents only a fraction of what Yomitan and Onna villages hold for visitors––we highly encourage you to experience it firsthand.

In cooperation with Air Rescue, LLC

Written by


Jasmine O

Kyoto, Japan

An awkward Southern California native living in Osaka. Originally came to Japan on the JET Program in Hyogo Prefecture (Kansai) after studying economics in college, and decided to try to stay.

IUC 10-month program graduate. Vegan and interested in all things Japan-related. Left-handed. Very fond of Kansai.

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