Nice Time Okinawa
Description: SUP instructor, mangrove guided walk, trekking
Language: Japanese and broken English
Description: Japanese instructor for snorkeling, kayaking and nature tours. Based from Sesoko Island in Motobu
Language: Japanese only
Padaloha Kayak SUP Okinawa
Description: Sea kayak, Paddle Board, Hiking, River tours and experiences around Okinawa and neighboring Island.
Popular Tourist Spots within 20 minutes by car
Churaumi Aquarium and Expo Park.
Bise and the Fukugi tree Road. Explore a quaintly preserved village of Bise in a leafy beachside community of traditional Okinawan houses.
Kouri Island. A long bridge connects 2 islands and is a stunning drive and offers stunning views of turquoise seas. A beach on the Kouri island side of the bridge is perfect for a quick dip. However, there are no showers!
Mina Island – secluded, small and beautiful beaches. Ferry ride from Motobu Port
Ie Island and lily festival in April. Ferry Ride to get there.
Nakijin Castle ruins.
Yaedake cherry blossom viewing (From mid-January to end of February)
Orion Beer factory in Nago City.
Snorkeling at Bise, Gorilla chop.
Kayaking in Nakijin and Motobu.
Popular Beaches in and Around Motobu Town.
* Note about beaches and swimming.
The Okinawa seas have some dangerous creatures which you might or might not be aware of. Swimming at beaches without nets is entirely at your own risk. We do recommend beaches for visiting, swimming or just simply to take a walk on, however we cannot guarantee Please refer to the pamphlet on dangerous sea creatures to look out for. However, we do still swim at certain beaches without nets at our own risk. We personally always swim with long sleeved rash guards on and long swimming tights to minimize the box jelly fish sting if swimming at beaches without the safety nets. We also wear felt booties if we are on a SUP board and plan to get out on the coral near the reef edge. A stone fish will penetrate your sandals should you stand on one So regular shoes are not that great. Also, some winds after typhoons bring in the Jelly Fish and the Japanese man of war (blue bottles). If no one is swimming, then stay out the water! Netted beaches often have lifeguards and the rules are pretty strict but they do that for your own safety.
Emerald Beach in Motobu
Swimming nets, safe from box jelly fish. Showers and toilets on site. FREE Shaded parking is available at the northern most parking spot of the Ocean Expo Park (an absolute bonus in the summer heat!)
2. Nagahama Beach in Nakijin
Its ok to snorkel here.! No nets though! There is a tap to rinse sandy feet off and an old toilet. I cannot guarantee toilet paper so maybe take your own!
3. Nakijin Sports Center beach .
Showers available. No nets so use protective clothing when swimming or be very aware of box jelly fish. Recommended to have aqua shoes. Only open with life guards there from April till end of September. Otherwise you are permitted to swim there at your own risk I like this spot as its pretty quiet and lovely for walking along the beach. We also can walk up the park with the children after they have had enough of the beach or pay for the public pool at the sports center. The midday heat can get quite intense in summer so pools are sometimes the best alternative.
4. Nago Beach in 21st Century Park
A netted beach with lifeguards. Toilets and showers on site. Most people swim and don't use aqua shoes. However, the shore line has a lot of old coral so you might be more comfortable swimming with aqua shoes on. The beach is also attached to the 21st Century Park with lots of green grass and shady trees if you need a change to the beaches.
5. Kouri Island Beach
Non netted beach so recommend having some sort of protective clothing. One can snorkel here. No showers. The beach is within walking distance from the parking lot near the small market. There is a another parking lot on the East side of the bridge too if you planning on staying there longer.
6. Gorilla Chop
A popular snorkeling beach in Sakimotobu although it is recommended to use a guide as the currents are quite bad and the waves can be quite big when the South wind is strong.
7. Sesoko Island Beach
As you drive over the beach to Sesoko Island, there is a beach below and to the right of the bridge. You will have to pay for parking and the use of showers. It is a lovely little beach although really popular in summer and for us There aren't any nets here, but most people swim as if there is nothing to be afraid of! Maybe it's the strong current between Motobu and Sesoko island that limits the number of dangerous creatures. Maybe ask a local when you are there. We tend to go early morning in summer before it`s too busy.
Things to do with Children
If your children are into dinosaurs, then this is the place for you. Realistic looking and lifesize replicas of dinosaurs that once roamed the earth, that make noises and move – (not sure about in Okinawa though !!) Observe them as you walk through Lunch and dinner are available too as well as a well-stocked souvenir shop.
2. Sakura no Mori Park
On Yae Mountain just up the road from the cottage. A beautiful park in the forest with views of the mountain. Lots of space for bicycles, roller skates, skateboards. There is also a big slide and different sized jungle gyms. Toilets are on site and a large parking lot.
3. Emerald Beach
A free beach in the Expo Park that has lifeguards, toilets, showers, lockers, restaurant and small shop. Safe and free of box jelly fish and you can comfortably swim and play on the beach bare foot.
4. Ocean Expo Park
Connected to the aquarium in Motobu. 2 major parks, dolphin shows, small beaches for finding shells and getting your toes wet. Plenty of space for children to run. Lots of shade too for hot summer days. Lots of clean toilets.
5. Churaumi Aquarium | Planetarium | Dream Center Botanical Gardens
6. Haso Koen (Park)
Gushiken, Motobu village not far from the aquarium
7. Motobu Genki Mura
Try this place out for a variety of family activities. You can do several things such as swimming with dolphins, enjoy sea water activities, trampoline, play on the little go carts that are provided for free when you are using the facility. There are workshops There is a pool much like the aquarium that's also free where you can see sea turtles and reef fish right up close. There are also goats and ponies and tortoises at the facility that you can pet and feed. a great place for a family to let kids run around and be free that is not overrun with tourists and is reasonably priced. Attached to the facility is a public pool that is perfect for those hot days when you want to swim but can`t take the sun anymore! I can highly recommend it as a stop off for energetic kids and families who like to enjoy time outdoors as well as with nature.
8. Camp Fire at the cottage
If you haven't already realized that we have a camp fire pit, then this is just a reminder! We simply love being outside in the evenings as a family. From mid October till end of May, the weather is cool enough to be outside around a fire. Kids are usually mesmerized by the flames and love to roast marshmallows in the fire (with adult supervision of course!) If you want to have a fire you don't need to ask us permission but we just need to know that If you could just message us that would be a help. Also if you need help lighting a fire, let us know in advance. You are going to be lighting a fire as we have to let the fire department know each time the fire is lit. and we can surely help should we be around on the evening that you plan to have a camp fire.
Recommendations for Breakfast
Flap Coffee and Bake Shop in NAGO
Type of food: breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee, tea, cakes
Distance from cottage: 20 minutes by car
Operating hours: MON – WED 8:00 – 17:00, FRI – SUN 8: 00-18: 00
Off days: THURSDAY
Comments: Brilliant little independent coffee shop serving delicious croque monsieur for breakfast! Very relaxed atmosphere. Cozy Café style. Great for both Japanese and English-speaking guests.
2. SoySoy Cafe
Type of food: cakes, muffins, quiches, seasonal ingredients of Okinawa.
Distance from cottage: 15-20 minutes by car. (In Motobu Town, Toguchi)
Operating hours: Tues – Saturday 11:30 --5:30
Off days: SUNDAYS AND MONDAYS
Telephone number: 0980-43-6003
Comments: This place is not open early for breakfast but is ideal to buy muffins the day before and eat for breakfast. They have a large variety and they are really delicious and freshly made. No preservatives
3. Yaedake Bakery (The bakery at the top of the mountain)
Type of food: Homemade wholemeal breads and cookies
Distance from cottage: 850m up the mountain! (45 minute walk or 7-10 minutes car drive)
Operating hours: 10am – 6pm
Off days: SATURDAY
Telephone number: 0980-47-5642
Comments: This bakery only opens at 10am so it is recommended to buy breads the day before if you want for breakfast otherwise wait until 10am for freshly bakes bread. Delicious, quaint and cosy little place at the top of the mountain.
4. Pain de Kaito Bakery
Type of food: Bakery
Distance from cottage: 6.1km (20 minutes by car)
Off days: 8am -7pm
Telephone number: 0989-53-5256
Comments: Highly recommended bakery for hard and soft breads, sweet breads and sandwiches. They serve 1 cup of free coffee per order. Delicious. I sometimes buy their pizza and its delicious.
5. Starbucks in Motobu
Distance from cottage: 15 minutes by car
Location: Right opposite the South Gate of the Expo Park in Motobu.
Comments: Beautiful view of Mina island and sunset in winter. Also, can see Sesoko island from the second floor.
Recommendations for Lunch
1. Yanbaru Soba
Type of food: soba
Distance from cottage: 8 minutes by car to central Izumi village
Operating hours: 11:30 am – SOLD OUT (usually around 2:30 pm) NIGHT: 6pm -9pm
Off days: Sundays
Comments: Restaurant only has 2 items in their menu. Either pork rib or pork belly soba. They come in 2 sizes. Prices are slightly more expensive that other soba shops but the taste is totally worth it. The meat is tender and soup broth is the best!
2. Kajinho (pizza in the sky) ** Motobu
** VERY POPULAR and VERY CROWDED.
Type of food: Pizza
Distance from cottage: 20 minutes by car
Off days: Tuesdays
Telephone number: 0980-47-5537
Comments: This place is famous not only for its pizza but the beautiful view over the bay of Motobu Penninsula. Sunsets are spectacular but as a result hundreds of people want to go there! Just make sure you are there by 6pm in order to get a table and order so at least you can wait and watch the sunset while waiting, if you have too!
3. Yanbaru Shokudo Kuni (Nakijin - next to sore farmers market)
Type of food: Ethnic
Distance from cottage: 20 minutes by car (In Nakijin village)
Operating hours: 11:30 am – 2:30 pm for lunch / 6 pm – 9 pm for dinner
Off days: Sundays
Telephone number: 090-1702-9514
Comments: Really delicious ethnic food using locally grown vegetables from Nakijin village. Great for adults but not really catering for children.
4. SoySoy SWEETS SHOP CAFÉ. (Down town Motobu)
Type of food: muffins, cakes, quiches, salads, tofu related dishes, soups
Distance from cottage: 13 minutes by car (6.4km)
Operating hours: 11: 30-14: 00 (LUNCH) 11: 30-17: 30 (CAFÉ)
Off days: Monday
Telephone number: 0980-43-6003
Comments: Delicious home from home style food and cooking. The base of all their foods is tofu (even the muffins) and it's amazing that one can make such delicious food from something as bland as tofu!
5. Sashimitei (Down Town Motobu)
Type of food: sashimi, seafood, Japanese food, local dishes
Distance from cottage: 14 minutes (7.4km)
Operating hours: 11am – 14:30 (lunch) 17: 00-20: 00 (dinner)
Off days: SUNDAYS
Telephone number: 0980-47-5523
Comments: A real local place with local seafood and pork dishes. You sit on tatami mats and it feels like you are sitting in an old fisherman's cottage. Good value for money if you are wanting a fulling local meal and more especially using local fish and ingredients.
6. Yaezen Yaezen
Type of food: local dishes including soba
Distance from cottage: 7 minutes by car (3.6km)
Operating hours: 11: 00-17: 00
Off days: Tuesday (unless this day falls on a public holiday then the next day is off)
Telephone number: 0980-47-5853
Comments: Real value for money and delicious everyday local food. Check at the register for todays menu and you will get a nice surprise of only paying 500 yen for the meal of the day if they have any servings left! But this offer is only weekdays !!
Type of food: Pizza
Distance from cottage: 8 minutes by car (2.9km)
Operating hours: 11: 30-16: 15
Off days: Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Telephone number: 0980 47-6372
Comments: Cafe Ichara is a small home converted to a restaurant in the middle of the forest that gives off a private and quiet vibe where you can enjoy being away from the hustle and bustle of the city. You have a choice to sit on the beautiful wooden deck outside or inside at one of the cool relaxing tables or tatami mats. The best part of Cafe Ichara are the gorgeous and tasty pizzas they cook. Pizzas range from about ¥ 800 to ¥ 1500 depending on toppings and size.
8. Smile Spoon
Type of food: Serves western style lunches, coffee, tea, deserts and drinks
Distance from cottage: 9 minutes by car (3.7km)
Operating hours: 11:00 AM --5:00 PM
Off days: Wednesday
Telephone number: 0980-47-7646
Comments: Smile spoon is originally an old Okinawan House that has been renovated and made to look more European in style by keeping a true antique feel to it. It They serve delicious Western-style 3-4 course lunches on beautiful antique plates. It might Be a good idea to book in advance during busy seasons. We can help you with that if you need to make a reservation but cannot speak Japanese. Baby cots, child chairs and nursing rooms are available for young children. Feel free to ask if you need.
9. Niceness Vegan Café
Type of food: vegetarian and vegan options, gluten free options, deserts, breads and a few sweets, coffee and drinks.
Distance from cottage: 18 minutes by car (9.5km)
Operating hours: 11:00 --16:00
Off days: Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays
Telephone number: 080-5232-8552
Comments: This is a cozy, down to earth type of lunch time restaurant run by only a husband and wife. There are not many truly vegetarian restaurants in the north part of the island so it`s very popular. It might be a good idea to make a reservation but if you cannot speak Japanese please ask Shiro or Kirsten to give them a call. Simply delicious, wholesome food and nothing instant or quick at all. Expect getting the feel of going back to the slow life if you plan on eating here!
Type of food: vegetarian and vegan option foods. Afternoon tea and deserts.
Distance from cottage: 15 minutes (6.3km)
Operating hours: 11:30 --17:00
Off days: Sundays and Public Holidays
Telephone number: 0980-56-1321
Comments: This is a cosy, quaint, old Okinawan style house that has been converted into a café and restaurant and is located on the top of the Nakijin Mountain range which boasts stunning panoramic views. It`s quite a drive to get up to the café and off the main routes but really worth the effort if you are not in a rush and are looking for a healthy, wholesome lunch and a slow, relaxing meal with spectacular views.
11. Hako Niwa
Type of food: Light lunches. Afternoon tea, coffee, fresh juices and deserts.
Distance from cottage: 9 minutes (3.5km)
Operating hours: 11:30 --17:30
Off days: Wednesdays and Thursdays
Telephone number: 0980-47-6717
Comments: This is yet another cosy, quaint, non-commercial old Okinawan style house that has been converted into a café and is located just off the road in the Izumi forest. This café is quick and easy to get to from the Road 84 in Izumi and perfect for a quiet cup of afternoon tea or coffee and a selection of delicious cake of the day. Also, if you are wanting a light and healthy lunch that uses a lot of local foods then I can highly recommend it.
Recommendations for Dinner
1. Hoshitei in NAGO
Type of restaurant: This restaurant offers a variety of quality Okinawan homemade food as well as gyoza, tempura, fish, salads, vegetables
They also serve Japanese sake (Nihonshu) and a variety of alcoholic drinks.
Distance from cottage: Just a 15-20-minute drive towards Nago on the road 84.
Operating Hours: 17: 30-23: 00
Telephone number: 0980-54-0740 * call before going to book
Comments: Casual Japanese style bar restaurant. Perfect for a delicious meal. Hosts are very friendly, and they are huge baseball fans, more especially the professional baseball team, Nipon Ham. Guests are ONLY PERMITTED after making a reservation. This place is very popular so should be reserved in advance.
2. Ichibanja – Izakaya. (MOTOBU)
Type of food: Serves sushi as well as local foods and alcohol.
Distance from cottage: 15 minutes by car
Operating hours: 5pm – 11pm
Off days: Tuesdays
Telephone number: 0980-47-7667
Comments: very casual, usually crowded on weekends, popular with people who enjoy a few drinks with their dinner. But also, family friendly.
3. Yakiniku Motobu Bokujo ** (MOTOBU)
Type of food: Yakiniku style (BBQ meat and vegetables), Okinawa soba,
Distance from cottage: 15 minutes by car.
Operating hours: 11am-3pm / 5-10pm
Off days: none
Telephone number: 0980-51-6777
Comments: Casual, cosy, good for kids, good for groups. A bit pricey but serve quality meat.
LOCAL CAFES and other restaurants we recommend
1. BRITISH WINE and Tea shop
Located just 5 minutes by car in Izumi. Get a taste of real British scones with real cream and jams. Tea served in huge pots. Maki san (the owner) also makes a delicious cheesecake and variety of other cakes. Bookings required for lunch Lunches are generally western style. Closed on Thursdays and Fridays. The restaurant and café is sometimes closed on other days too so it`s best to check this place out first on the internet or call before going.
2. Yachimun Kisa ten
A small quaint old café in the heart of the Izumi Forest. This place is famous and very popular for tourists. There are many pottery `Shisa` figures on the roof and in the garden. The menu is very simple and not something that will full You up. Perfect for a morning or afternoon cup of coffee and a light snack. However, the `in the forest atmosphere` and old Okinawan style house makes up for what lacks in portion size !!! I love going there just to relax and slow down. Very non-commercial and going there is like stepping back in time.
3. Acerola Fresh
Acerola Fresh is a acerola grower in Motobu Town. They also develop and sell their own acerola products and run a fruit parlor. Just down the road from cottage in the Namizato area. Pop in for a smoothie or frozen acerola juice. Perfect for those hot summer days.
4. Café Gyutto
Located in Izumi, Motobu just 5 minutes by car. If you are pass the way, visit this cafe for the childrens sake. Ramen is the main dish on the menu. He used to have a well known Ramen shop in mainland Japan. The owner loves trains and a toy electric train speeds along the little tracks in the café. Such great entertainment for kids.
This quaint little place is not a café but a place to buy homemade sweets of all sorts. It is also conveniently located in Izumi. It`s just 7 minutes slow drive on the opposite hill to the cottage location. They are closed on Tuesdays and public holidays, although always check first on google maps should you want to pop in there. They are open from 10:00 to 17:00 on the days they are open. If you are looking for some simply delicious homemade goodies, and some fresh juices to go along with it, then you do have the option of sitting outside in their garden in peace and quiet. There are no tables inside so you won`t be able to sit down on a rainy day.