Driving in Okinawa

After spending 2 nights in Naha it was time to see other parts of Okinawa. To do this I’d be using a rental car and driving all around the island. Okinawa has public transit that runs across the island but it’s not quite as good as some other parts of Japan, and I wanted to see as much of Okinawa as possible, so for me it was worth it to get a rental car. A little blue Mazda would be my personal chariot on Okinawa and in today’s post I’ll be sharing a small selection of photos from my time on the road.

Driving in Okinawa

Driving in Okinawa

Driving in Okinawa

Driving in Okinawa

Driving in Okinawa

Driving in Okinawa

Driving in Okinawa

Okinawa was the second place in Japan that I had rented a car in—the first time being when I was in Hokkaido, which you can read about here—so it wasn’t my first driving experience in the country, and that’s probably a good thing. The largely open roads of Hokkaido let me ease into the feel of driving in a foreign country and on the other side of the road from what I’m used to. Had I tried driving in Okinawa first it would have been a more stressful experience. The southern half of Okinawa has a lot of urban areas and driving on that part of the island can oftentimes be about as pleasant as driving around Los Angeles.

Once I got up to the northern half of Okinawa, however, driving was much more enjoyable. There are some very scenic roads up there that run along the coast and also cut through the island’s interior. I think my overall favorite stretch of pavement was on Route 58, from the area around the town of Ogimi all the way up to Cape Hedo at the northern tip of Okinawa. Traveling around Okinawa by bus would have been workable but the northern half is truly best experienced by car.

Overall I had a good time driving around Okinawa, though I liked driving in Hokkaido a bit more. Both are very scenic places but Okinawa has the disadvantages of more traffic and not having a lot passing opportunities like Hokkaido does, so if there are slow vehicles on the road it can take you a while to get around them. That said, I wouldn’t discourage anyone from renting a car on Okinawa if they want to see more than just the southern part of the island around Naha and if I’m ever back on Okinawa I’ll likely be renting a car again.

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