Northern Okinawa Main Island
Discover picturesque islands, rich history, and family attractions on a journey around the Motobu Peninsula
The quiet Motobu Peninsula is the perfect place to start an island-hopping adventure. Travel by road or sea to several easy-to-reach islands for a snapshot of Okinawan island life. Break up a scenic drive around the compact and varied coasts to learn about Okinawa’s rich history, plant life, and marine creatures.
- Cycle the Bise Fukugi Tree Road to catch a glimpse of Okinawa’s past
- Go island hopping to explore nearby beaches and resorts
- Visit the renowned Churaumi Aquarium and admire diverse marine life
About Motobu Peninsula
The Motobu Peninsula stretches out from the northwestern part of Okinawa’s main island. It has several small villages dotted across an area of nearly 55 square kilometers. Motobu was the host of the Expo ‘75 World’s Fair, and many of the area’s attractions are a legacy of the event’s oceanic theme.
Accessible resort islands
There are several islands close to the Motobu Peninsula, making it an ideal destination for island hopping. To the east lies tiny Kouri Island, which is connected to the peninsula via a bridge from Yagaji Island. Kouri Island is dubbed “Love Island” for an iconic heart-shaped rock formation, and a legend about an Okinawan Adam and Eve. A short hop across a bridge on the western coast of the peninsula is Sesoko Island. The small island has beautiful white beaches and a number of cafes and shops serving sweet treats.
Further offshore are Minna and Ie islands, which can be easily reached by tour boats and regular ferries from Motobu. Minna Island is a short 15-minute boat ride, and the journey to Ie Island takes around 30 minutes. The coral islands of Iheya and Izena in the north are the most remote, with a ferry from Unten Port in Nakijin Village taking around 55 minutes to Izena Island and 80 minutes to Iheya Island.
History and heritage
The ruins of Nakijin Castle are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the castle was one of the largest gusuku castles in Okinawa. The beautiful curves of the castle’s ramparts are an ancient architectural masterpiece, as the drystone walls were constructed without mortar.
The coastal village of Bise is famed for its picture-perfect lanes flanked by fukugi trees, a type of evergreen. Explore the arboreal scenery of the Bise Fukugi Tree Road by bicycle while enjoying the dappled shade, and rustic architecture of times past.
The Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium is home to all manner of marine life. The huge acrylic viewing window, allows you to view the impressive manta rays, tiger sharks, and whale sharks from up close.
The aquarium is within the grounds of the Ocean Expo Park, a sprawling 70-hectare attraction. Other highlights include the Okinawan Village, with faithful reconstructions of houses from different periods and regions, and the Omoro Botanical Garden, which has plantings of native Okinawan species.
Pineapple lovers can get their fix at Nago Pineapple Park, and animal fans will enjoy the petting and feeding areas at the hands-on Neo Park Okinawa animal park.
Where to stay
The Motobu Peninsula has hotels and guesthouses to suit all tastes and budgets. The coastal areas have a particularly good selection of premium resort hotel options and vacation rentals.
Getting to Motobu Peninsula
The Motobu Peninsula is accessible by car, bus, and ferry. The drive from Naha takes around 90 minutes. There is a regular bus from Naha to Motobu’s southerly town of Nago, which takes 2–3 hours, but bus service around the rest of the peninsula is infrequent. The high-speed Daiichi Marine Ferry from Naha Port takes 75 minutes to reach Motobu Port.