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The waterfalls in Okinawa are worth taking a road trip for. Or at least, that’s exactly what I did when I visited.
Okinawa is a Japanese prefecture filled with tropical islands and stunning landscapes of all kinds including beaches, waterfalls and small mountains. Although there are 113 islands in the entire region, we will just be discussing those worth seeing on the main island of Okinawa for now.
The terrain found here is exactly what you’d expect to find in the tropics with high humidity and surrounded by mesmerising reefs and ocean. There are dense rainforests and lots of hiking trails (such as to the peak of Mt Katsu) to enjoy the outdoors.
Plus, when it’s hot and humid (ie. every day) what better activity to take part in than taking a dip near a freshwater waterfall?
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Want to stay connected during your Okinawa trip? Check out this Japanese SIM card that allows you to do just that. Available in 8, 16 or 31-day plans and you can have it delivered to your hotel.
Accessing the Falls: Rent a Car
I’d highly recommend getting a rental car during your time on Okinawa’s main Island.
Many of these waterfalls are down unnamed roads so they are nearly impossible to reach with public transportation. By having a car, not only can your access each of the waterfalls across Okinawa Island with ease, but you can also do so on your own schedule rather than someone else’s.
Shigeranfaa & Amefuri Falls
Location: Shigeranfaa & Amefuri Falls, Unnamed Road, Aha, Kunigami, Unigami District, Okinawa 905-1504, Japan
This pair of waterfalls in Okinawa are a bit special compared to the rest. For the majority of the year, you will only see one waterfall stream (like my photo above). However, during the short rainy season, you will instead get to see two separate streams creating two independent waterfalls into the same pool.
It’s also much harder to reach these waterfalls as the walking trail is hidden behind a gate along a narrow and winding road and the exact location is a little bit away from the Google Maps pin.
If you do find the wooden gate, you can walk along an overgrown forest trail that has very steep staircases down to the river and falls. However, as it is not well-maintained, some of the steps actually gave way beneath our feet when we were walking so you need to use caution and hold onto the wooden railings just in case. Plus, because so few people visit these falls, there are also many spiderwebs you’ll likely walk through along the way.
The depth of the water reached up to my thighs so it was a good location for a quick paddle but less so of a swim.
Aha Village Falls
Location: Aha Village Falls, 298, Aha, Kunigami, Kunigami District, Okinawa 905-1504, Japan
This waterfall is easy to reach as it is just a few meters away from where you can park your car. There isn’t a very large parking area as it is close to a few residential properties but it’s rarely busy so you are unlikely to run into others when you visit.
Lurking between the rocks you’ll find something that is not found at other waterfalls on the main island of Okinawa – hermit crabs. LARGE hermit crabs. I saw one without a shell and thought it was a tarantula. So I’m just giving you a heads-up in case crabs make you nervous (like they do me).
The falls have a pool which is much harder to enter than others on our list due to needing to climb down over many large boulders. This could be deemed unsafe so make sure you’re careful if you do choose to go in.
You can view the waterfall from both the rocks nearby or from the small bridge opposite.
Hiji Falls is one of the biggest waterfalls in Okinawa on the main island and it’s certainly worth a visit. To reach the falls you will need to walk between 15 – 20 minutes (1.8 km / 1.1 miles one way) along a winding boardwalk trail that has been built through the bush of Hiji National Park.
This is one of the only waterfalls in the area where the falls and its pool have been blocked for safety reasons. This means you can get close enough to get great photographs, but you will not be able to take a swim here. Further along the trail, you’ll see warning signs that make sure to keep you along the right path – so make sure you stick to the clearly marked trail to stay safe.
Opening times: April-October 9 am – 4 pm. November-March 9 am – 3 pm.
Ticket cost: Adult: 500 JPY (£2.75) / Child (under 15): 300 JPY (£1.65)
Seven Falls of Kijoka (Nanataki)
Location: Seven Falls of Kijoka, 2234 Kijoka, Ōgimi, Kunigami District, Okinawa 905-1303, Japan
Located just off Highway 58, this waterfall in Okinawa is one of the most spiritual on the island. Although it looks like just a relatively small waterfall, it is in fact also a prayer site. This waterfall is behind a small gate that has intricate carvings welcoming you to this holy space.
The falls are down a narrow path just 1 minute’s walk from the 2 parking spaces. There is a very small pool that is no more than hip-deep at its deepest point directly beneath the falls.
Much of the falls as hidden higher up on the hill behind foliage so it’s only possible to see the small stream into the pool itself. There are benches and a small ramp for ease of access and it’s not unlikely that you’d cross paths with a local family laying flowers or saying their prayers here.
Please remember, this is a holy site so be respectful and avoid swimming in the water.
Parking Location: Ta-taki Waterfall, Tsuha, Ōgimi, Kunigami District, Okinawa 905-1318, Japan
Tataki Falls (or Tadake as it is sometimes known) is the most well-known of all the waterfalls on Okinawa Island. It requires visitors to walk up to 20 minutes (1.3km) through a flowing river to reach the towering falls.
In some sections, you will be required to climb over slippery terrain and even use a rope to pull yourself up over rocks. It is highly advisable to wear water shoes (specifically something with straps) in order to safely navigate the river trail. There is a large pool deep enough for a little bit of a swim and in one section I could no longer touch the floor.
This is the tallest of the waterfalls on Okinawa Island and is a popular photo spot for visitors. You’ll find this to be the perfect addition to the
Opening times: 8 am until 5:30 pm (the last daily admission is at 4 pm)
Car park cost: 300 JPY (£1.65) for 1 hour and 50 JPY (£0.28p) for every 30 minutes afterwards. You pay on your way out.
If you like big waterfalls, check out the tallest in Okinawa: Pinaisara Falls on Iriomote Island
Check out this huge waterfall on Vancouver Island in Canada. Our car broke down when visiting!
Location: Todorono Falls, Sukuta, Nago, Okinawa 905-0023, Japan
Todorono Falls (轟の滝) is another one of Okinawa Island’s most popular waterfalls to visit. A stream of water falls from 30 metres high and trails along a narrow river that many visitors paddle and walk through.
The falls are located in Todorokinotaki Park, and you’ll often find families here with a picnic and enjoying the local area in the sun. Within the park, you’ll find there are benches, shaded rest houses and even public bathrooms only a 2-minute walk from the falls themselves.
There are two wooden walkways that allow you to get closer to the falls in order to get a better photo opportunity and the overall park is well-maintained and easy to access for everyone.
Opening times: 9 am – 6 pm year-round
Cost: Adult: 200 JPY (£1.10) paid into a small ticket vending machine at the entrance
Want to explore more waterfalls around the world? Here are some in Korea and Taiwan!
- Cheonjiyeon Waterfall: One of Jeju’s natural attractions
- Jeongbang Waterfall on Jeju Island: What can you expect?
- Shifen Waterfall: How to visit Taiwan’s, Niagara Falls
Final thoughts on waterfalls On Okinawa Island
Using the addresses above I have made it really easy to go on a successful road trip to visit each of these mesmerising waterfalls around the island.
There is another one to join later once a landslide has been cleared from the access road near the falls. However, you’ll have a pretty busy itinerary fitting all of these in as it is!
Have you visited any of these waterfalls? Which one is your favourite?