Summertime and the living is easy, right?
Well… not so much in Okinawa! No matter where you are from, no matter where you have lived, no matter what hellish humidity you have experienced in your life: nothing will prepare you for opening that door and being smacked in the face with the summertime humidity of this subtropical island.
I think I will look back on our time here and recall binge-watching ABC Family shows in their entirety in the cool comfort of our house with the shades drawn to prevent sunlight from entering and heating up our living room, enjoying homemade popsicles, ice cream sundaes, and chilled and icy Arnold Palmers as my favorite summertime activity. Insert all the “laughing so hard I’m crying” emojis you want, but I’m serious.
Check Okinawa Out in the Winter
Of course, if you’re spending any length of time on Okinawa you know the weather is pretty reasonable throughout the winter months. This is when you’ll want to get most of your sightseeing in! However there are plenty of things to do in the summer though that won’t have you hiding away with the AC cranked as low as housing will let you or escaping the island on a cooler vacation adventure!
Head to the Daiso
One of the first things you’re going to want to do is head to the Daiso or a 100 Yen Shop and buy yourself a few sweat towels. The locals wear them draped around their necks or wrapped around their heads. You’re going to sweat a whole lot during the summers here and you’ll find these are rather handy to help you not look like such a hot mess. You’re also going to want to get a folding fan to keep in your purse or adventure bag! They sell them everywhere and I have found great ones at the Daiso and 100 Yen Shops! Once you have those two Okinawa summer essentials, along with sunscreen and a ball cap, visor, or sun hat, you’re ready to go!
Get on the Beach
You are on a subtropical island, so naturally there is the beach and all kinds of water activities! White Beach, Camp Courtney, and Torii Station are three bases on island with beaches for you to enjoy. There is also Okuma Recreation Facility, owned by the United States Air Force, with beautiful beaches. At Okuma, Torri, and White Beach, you can rent cabins or tent camp on or right by the beaches.
The island is small, but there are tons of local beaches as well: you can head out exploring and find the perfect spot to collect sea glass and shells, take in a beach picnic, or enjoy water activities! During the summer you will see public beaches (or beaches owned by various hotels) with netting up to protect you from deadly animals lurking in the waters. Okinawa is home to 9 of the 10 deadliest sea creatures, so please follow local protocol and pay attention to where the locals are! If you dare: you can see some of the aquatic life by snorkeling or scuba diving! Okinawa has tons to offer for both activities!
Get Under the Sea
If you want to enjoy the aquatic life but find yourself hating the heat and humidity, you can head up north and visit the aquarium here on island called Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium! There is a dolphin show and a tank with whale sharks! You’ll get to enjoy the outing in the air conditioning and the views on the way up to the facilities are beautiful!
See a Fight
If you are looking for something a little out of the ordinary, you can experience an Okinawa Bull Fight! We went to a bullfight for our very first outing in Okinawa. The Ishikawa Bullfighting Dome is an open-air arena with concrete stands. We bought chair cushions from the BX to sit on for the duration of the event. We didn’t have to worry about the sun, as the arena is covered, but it was still a hot, hot day! We took a cooler with Aquarius (a pretty good local drink to help replace those electrolytes you sweat out all day) and used the paper fans handed out at the event for almost the entire day.
If you’re looking to go to a bullfight, don’t be nervous about blood or violence! Okinawa bullfights are pretty tame– the bulls basically just push each other until one dominates the other and is named the winner. It was one of my favorite things we’ve done here!
Summer is festival season and there are fun things going on all the time: Eisa festivals, beer festivals, various cultural and flower festivals, and on base you can find music festivals with American artists! There are castle ruins to visit, local shops to explore, and sights to see! I recommend going early in the morning on beach and sight seeing adventures, later in the evening for most festivals, and stopping at a restaurant to enjoy some local cuisine during the hotter mid-day time frame!
I admittedly hate leaving the house in the summertime here in Okinawa. It is hard to breathe with the humidity, I instantly begin to sweat upon opening the door to the outside heat, and I sunburn really easily. Even if you’re not the biggest fan of Okinawa, like myself, get off base, go out exploring, and maybe even turn down a side street headed in a direction you’re not too sure about: there are tons of hidden treasures on this island and not much land, so it’s hard to get too lost! Still, I make an attempt to enjoy all that the island has to offer. Enjoy the island and stay hydrated!
Elizabeth lives the nomadic life of a Navy Wife and is the author of Cheers, Elizabeth! She currently finds herself residing in Okinawa, Japan for the duration of her husband’s tour in the country. When she is not volunteering her time with the Spouse Club or enjoying her experience in the International Women’s Club, she can be found exploring the island she gets to call home for a short period in her life. You can find her and follow her adventures on Instagram or on her site Cheers, Elizabeth.