Best Time To Visit Okinawa

Okinawa is a tropical paradise that is starting to be at the top of everyone's travel list. But, when is the best time to visit Okinawa? Find out here!

There isn’t a single best time to visit Okinawa – there is so much to see year-round! This tropical paradise is becoming a popular destination for good reason. The good food supports one of the healthiest communities, the blue water is filled with aquatic life, and the culture is so vibrant!

>Okinawa has so much to experience throughout the year, from humpback whale sightings to world-class diving, cherry blossom festivals, and so much more! So, depending on what you want to see, the best time to travel isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. 

Explore everything that Okinawa has to offer throughout the year, and find the best time to visit Okinawa for you!

View from the top of Okinawa, with blue water and small islands in the distance

Table of Contents

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When is the Best Time to Visit Okinawa

Generally speaking for Okinawa, the best time to visit Okinawa is in the shoulder seasons, during April or May, and October or November. 

While the word ‘best’ is up for interpretation, the shoulder seasons offer smaller crowds, milder weather, and lower costs! There is less competition for your dream accommodations, and fewer people at the best beaches.

CHEAPEST TIME TO VISIT OKINAWA: November – February

BEST WEATHER IN OKINAWA: April-May & October

LEAST CROWDED MONTHS IN OKINAWA: February-March

BEST NATURAL PHENOMENON IN OKINAWA: Humpback Whale Watching January-March

BEST FESTIVALS & EVENTS IN OKINAWA: Cherry Blossom Festival – February

When is the Worst Time to Visit Okinawa

In my opinion, I would avoid Okinawa during the summer months of June, July, and August. During the summer, temperature is the highest, as well as humidity (hello hot mess), crowds are the biggest, and increased prices follow. In general, I avoid destinations during peak season. I  prefer beaches empty, nature to myself, and fewer travelers so I can more clearly see the authenticity that lies at the heart of a location.

MOST EXPENSIVE TIME TO VISIT OKINAWA: June, July, August

HOTTEST MONTHS IN OKINAWA: August

COLDEST MONTHS IN OKINAWA: January

MOST CROWDED MONTHS IN OKINAWA: June, July, August

My Experience in Okinawa

I spent an amazing 45 days in Okinawa. I arrived on December 6, and left on January 19 – right in the middle of winter!

As you can see from the photos in this article, the weather was still so warm outside! We had plenty of beach days, as well as some cozy winter storm days. I often wore a bikini and a sundress, but always made sure to have a warm jacket and rain jacket for any changes in the weather.

We did a lot of snorkeling in Okinawa, and almost always needed in a 3mm wetsuit. The visibility was insanely good, and we saw so much aquatic life since there were fewer people in the water!

The downside of traveling in December-January is a lot of restaurants had shorter hours, or were closed completely. However, with fewer travelers, the places we did go were cheaper, and we got to connect more with the locals. 

A woman standing on stairs facing a unique rocky peak, with tropical palms growing

Weather in Okinawa

Okinawa is tropical and breezy, with annual rainfall in the summer months along with high humidity, and cool and crisp air during the winter months. The weather fluctuates between a low of 13°C (55°F) and a high of 33°C (91°F) throughout the year.

While there are 4 seasons, the year is typically broken into a wet and dry season. Wet months are from June to September, with the most rain in June at almost 600mm of rainfall.

Graph showing the annual rainfall and temperature in Okinawa, Japan
Image from All Japan Relocation

Seasonal Breakdown in Okinawa

Spring (March, April, May)

As the weather warms and the island awaits the tourist crowds, Spring is among the best time to visit Okinawa. Resort beaches reopen for swimming in March, the temperature starts creeping back up, and the vibrant life of the island is awaiting your exploration.

Weather

Spring in Okinawa offers comfortable weather, with balmy days and refreshing evenings. Average high temperatures range from 20°C (68°F) in March to 25°C (77°F) by May, with lows dipping to 18°C (64°F) and 22°C (72°F) respectively.

Rainfall is minimal, making it a fantastic time for outdoor activities. While humidity starts to creep up toward April, it remains comfortable compared to the summer months.

The ocean beckons with increasing warmth throughout the season. Sea temperatures rise from a cool 21°C (70°F) in March to a comfortable 26°C (79°F) by May, perfect for swimming and snorkeling. Visibility in the turquoise waters is excellent, reaching upwards of 30 meters, and offering stunning views of the vibrant coral reefs.

Events

  • Yaeyama Islands Flower Bloom (March-April)
  • Naha Hari – Dragon Boat Race (May)
  • Yomitan Island Canoe Festival (May)
Sunset over the ocean in Okinawa, Japan

Summer (June, July, August)

Summer in Okinawa is perfect for lounging on a white sand beach or snorkeling anywhere off the coast. This is a great time to travel if you’re trying to be in the ocean more than not, you’ll need the refreshing reprise of an ocean dip to escape the heat! Be prepared for many other travelers, making it a perfect time to socialize and meet fellow wanderlusts.

Weather

Summer in Okinawa is a tropical paradise that demands respect for the sun’s intensity. Scorching days average between 28°C (82°F) and 33°C (91°F), with nights offering little respite at 24°C (75°F) and 28°C (82°F).

Humidity soars, reaching upwards of 80%, providing a free sauna-like experience. The high humidity during the summer months will make it feel much hotter than it reads on the thermometer, so pack accordingly and stay hydrated! Typhoons, though rare, can disrupt travel plans during this season. Be sure to have a good rain jacket and umbrella to withstand the intense precipitation.

Ocean temperatures reach their peak, averaging a hot 28°C (82°F), making it ideal for water sports enthusiasts. However, the increased surface temperature can affect coral health, and visibility slightly decreases compared to spring.

Events

  • Naha Eisa Matsuri Dance Performances (June or July)
  • Naha Harbor Fireworks Festival (July)
  • Ishigaki Island Stargazing Festival (July-August)
  • Miyako Island Orion Beer Festival (August)
  • Yaeyama Islands Manta Festival (June-August)
  • Whale Shark Snorkeling Tours (June-August)
Whale shark and other fish swimming below the surface

Autumn (September, October, November)

The rain subsides and temperatures drop in November, making it a perfect time for cultural events and indoor activities. Although, the oceans are still booming with life, and you’ll have some of the best snorkeling spots all to yourself!  Autumn is among the best time to visit Okinawa for a more authentic exploration with fewer crowds.

 

Weather

Autumn in Okinawa offers comfortable temperatures and clear skies. Average highs range from 22°C (72°F) in September to 28°C (82°F) in November, with lows dipping to 18°C (64°F) and 21°C (70°F) respectively. 

Rainfall increases slightly compared to summer but rarely disrupts plans. Humidity remains manageable, making it an ideal time for enjoying outdoor activities without the summer’s intensity.

Ocean temperatures begin to cool slightly, although they remain pleasantly warm at around 25°C (77°F) in September and 23°C (73°F) by November. Visibility remains excellent, offering stunning underwater views as the coral reefs prepare for winter.

Events

  • Ishigaki Island Harvest Festival (September)
  • Naha Tug-of-War Festival (October)
  • National Karate Day (October 25)
  • Kabira Bay Hot Springs Festival (October)
Aerial image of the annual tug-of-war festival in Naha, Okinawa, featuring a crowd of people and a massive rope
Image from Renee and Japan

Winter (December, January, February)

Winter travel in Okinawa is an underrated time of year. This is the best time to visit for some tropical life in the heart of the cold season, especially if you’re traveling from the Northern mianland. Stick around for the chance to sport a humpback whale, and join in on the lively cultural celebrations!

Weather

Winter in Okinawa offers a relief from the mainland’s biting cold, with mild days and cool nights. Average highs range from 18°C (64°F) in December to 23°C (73°F) in February, with lows dipping to 13°C (55°F) and 17°C (63°F) respectively.

Occasional bursts of chilly winds can bring temperatures down even further, and although rain increases slightly, it rarely dampens plans.

Ocean temperatures continue their descent, reaching 21°C (70°F) by February, making water activities less appealing for most. However, visibility remains excellent for divers and snorkelers who don’t mind the cooler waters.

Events

  • Naha Christmas Village Celebrations (December)
  • Ryuku Lantern Festival (December)
  • New Year’s Celebrations (January 1)
  • Okinawa Flower Carnival (February)
  • Cherry Blossom Sakura Festival in Naha. (late January – February)
  • Humpback Whale sightings off the Kerama Islands (late January – March)
  • Yonaguni Island Lantern Festival (February)
A mom and baby humpback whale swimming along the surface in the blue ocean

Top Things To Do In Okinawa

Of all the things to do in Okinawa, this is my top list of the things you can’t miss out on, no matter what time of year you visit Okinawa! These are open year-round and were my favorite things to do in Okinawa.

Charumi Aquarium

By far the biggest attraction on the island, The Okinawa Charumi Aquarium is among the best aquariums in the world. The responsible practices of rehabilitation and education are top-tier. They even release the dolphins back into the wild after a few years so they don’t become reliant on humans.

The biggest ‘attraction’ (if you can call an animal that) is the Whale Shark. So breathtaking to see such a massive creature up close.

Hike Hijio Waterfall

Hijio Waterfall is an incredible stop in the northern region of the island and very easy to get to. The 45 hike to the falls crosses a dreamy suspension bridge in the forest and leads to a stunning area to watch the water cascade down the hillside.

Especially if you go in the off-season, you’ll have the waterfall to yourself, another great reason why winter is the best time to visit Okinawa!

Snorkel Gorilla Chop

Of all the locations I snorkeled at, Gorilla Chop was by far the best. Maybe even the best I’ve ever seen in my life! This easy-to-access location is filled with life. It is accessible year-round, although water will be a bit chillier in the winter, so be sure to get a wetsuit!

The parking is free, and so is water access! Please be careful to not touch the coral or any aquatic life, and never feed the fish!

Summary - The Best Time To Visit Okinawa

Okinawa is undeniably a great place to go at any time of year. The tropical landscape, turquoise blue water, vibrant culture, and aquatic life have something for every type of traveler. But, when is the best time to visit Okinawa? 

The shoulder seasons of April and May, or September and October offer mild temperatures, smaller crowds, and the beautiful summery atmosphere that so many people love. However, if I were to go back to Okinawa, it would be in February.

In February there are no travel crowds, the cherry blossoms are in bloom, the rain is low, and best of all… humpback whale migration. It’s not often you get to see such beautiful creatures in the wild, and it’s relatively easy! 

Which month’s adventures are pulling you into Okinawa?

Posted by Taylor Mallaber

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