Best Time To Visit Okinawa: When To Go + When To Avoid

Last Updated on March 16, 2024

Japan’s southernmost prefecture is a tropical oasis brimming with cerulean beaches and powdery white sand. When thinking about the best time to visit Okinawa, there can be multiple answers due to its year-round subtropical climate, and the pros and cons of each season.

Knowing the best time to go for where you’re going and what you’re doing will be the focus of this post to give you some clarity during your trip planning. And it may just sway you to one season over the other after knowing all the facts and specific things to do during each part of the year.

In this blog post, I break down the weather in Okinawa by season and by month so you can get a good grasp of what to expect when planning a visit in any season. I cover everything so you can decide the best time to travel to Okinawa based on your travel style and preferences.

This post may contain affiliate links for the products I mentioned, but as always, all opinions are my own. I make a small commission, at no extra cost to you, when you make a purchase or a booking through these links. This helps to support this space and keep me blogging, which I am so extremely thankful for.


a table with pizza and drinks spreads out in front of a girl smiling at Pizza in the Sky in Northern Okinawa

When is the best time to visit Okinawa?

Generally speaking, the best time to visit Okinawa is in the shoulder months; late April, October or November. Each of these months can offer mild daytime temperatures, low humidity, and extensive daylight hours for adventure.

The answer is painted with a rather broad brushstroke because deciding when to visit Okinawa is going to depend on what you want to see and do while you’re there.

Your Okinawa itinerary is likely to be entirely different from mine, so I’ve created this guide to help you make an informed decision to best suit the needs of your trip.

Before we get started though, let these questions marinate before you dive into the guide:

– Do you mind crowds?

– Do you plan on staying in urban areas or getting out in nature?

– How do hot weather and humidity impact you?

– Are you going diving?


 

If you’re here for any niche answers, here are some quick answers to common questions.

Cheapest Time To Visit Okinawa

The cheapest time to visit Okinawa is from December to February. 

Since the temperatures dip, most of the beaches are closed, resorts are quiet, and local businesses either close or reduce their hours.

Affordable hotel rates and cheap flights are staples during this season, so if you’re looking to travel to Okinawa on a budget, this is a great time to visit. 

 

Worst Time To Visit Okinawa

The worst time to visit Okinawa is during typhoon season, which runs from June 1st To November 30th.

You’ll see many articles supporting this claim. While that can be true in some ways, in my opinion, writing the entire island off for essentially half the year is a touch exaggerated. 

The risk of a typhoon could interrupt your trip, but I wouldn’t let that dictate your plans. Especially if the only timeframe you have is within those months. As long as you arrive with a flexible itinerary and options for if/when the weather goes south, you’ll still have a memorable trip.

I was in Okinawa from late June through early August and nearly every day was a beach day for five weeks straight. Alternatively, when I was in Okinawa at the end of March going into early April (outside of typhoon season) it was overcast and rainy nearly every day. No matter when you arrive, the weather can always have other plans than what patterns predict.

I’d say the heat and humidity during the summer would be more of a reason to avoid those months since it’s sweltering and can be uncomfortable if you don’t like excessive heat. Knowing that you can decide if those months are the worst time for YOU to visit Okinawa. 

 

My experience

I’ve visited Okinawa twice now. The first time I spent just over a month on the island from late June to early August, and the second was two weeks split between late March and early April.

On my first visit during typhoon season, most days were very hot and sunny while my spring visit was cooler and dreary nearly the entire time. This contradicts a lot of what you see online about the wet vs. dry season.

I say that to say this, even if you visit in the dry season you could be surprised by rain. In the same way you can have beautiful days during the wet season. The key is to pack accordingly and be flexible because no one can predict the weather.

As for how each visit went, summertime was brutally hot and extremely humid and spring was dreary and much colder than I had anticipated. So two completely opposite trips. Each trip was fulfilling in its own way, but I think visiting in May or October would have been better in terms of weather. Which is why I am extending that recommendation to you.

 



A bridge connects two islands in Okinawa surrounded by turquoise blue seas. A small town hugs the beach

Okinawa geography overview

Okinawa is Japan’s southernmost prefecture, sandwiched between the East China and Philippine Seas. It’s typically assumed as one island, but it’s actually made up of over 160 different islands that span nearly 350 miles.

The main set of islands making up Okinawa is known, historically, as the Ryukyu Islands. Which is divided into a few key regions: Okinawa Honto (main island), Kerama Shoto (the Kerama Islands), Miyako Shoto (the Miyako Islands) and Yaeyama Shoto (the Yaeyama Islands).

Mt. Katsudake is the highest peak on Okinawa at just under 1500 ft (452 m). So there’s not much variation in terms of the islands’ topography. 

 

Weather in Okinawa

You can expect nearly perfect tropical conditions year-round on Okinawa and any of the surrounding islands due to the prefecture’s location between two seas and proximity to the equator.

They have four seasons, but the year is typically divided into the wet and dry seasons. The dry season runs from October to April and the wet season runs from May to September.

 

Quick Look at Okinawa’s Weather + Seasons

Busiest months in Okinawa: July, April, and November

Least crowded months in Okinawa: September or October

Hottest month in Okinawa: August

Coldest months in Okinawa: January and February

Wettest months in Okinawa: mid-May through late June

Driest months in Okinawa: November and December

 


A close up photo of Monstera leaves growing in Okinawa during the summer

A macro photo of a blush pink flower blooming above vibrant green leaves during one of the best time to visit Okinawa

Summer in Okinawa

June – August

Aquatic adventure and underwater excursions are the name of the game for an Okinawan summer. The ocean temperatures are warm, the waters are clear, and there is an endless number of beaches to spread your beach towel over. This is the best time to travel to Okinawa for swimming.

Okinawa in June

The average temperature in June is around 82 F (~28 C). 

Humidity during this time can make it feel much hotter than what the thermostat reads, so prepare for a tropical vacation. The crowds will be plentiful this month, especially with Japanese natives on holiday from the mainland.

Okinawa in July

The average temperature in July is around 85 F (~29 C). 

The humidity is no joke this month. A ‘step outside and you’re in a sauna’ type of hot. It’s a good month to be in the water snorkeling over coral reefs, surfing breaks, or going island hopping. Attractions still fill up fast this month despite all the heat so book attractions and accomodations ahead of time.

Okinawa in August

The average temperature in August is around 85 F (~29 C). 

August is almost always the hottest month of the year in Okinawa and the chances of a typhoon hitting are the greatest during this month. Towards the end of the month, tourism will slow down as kids go back to school. Fill your itinerary with water activities to help curb the heat and brutal humidity.

Things to do during summer in Okinawa 

Island hopping in the Keramas

Hike to Ta-Taki Falls

Nago Summer Festival (July)

Kayaking and paddle boarding

Visit the Churami Aquarium

Diving

Ocean Expo Park Summer Festival (July)

 


Waves from the ocean crashing against the Sunabe Sea Wall fall in Okinawa

Fall in Okinawa

September and October

As the summer temperatures gradually subside, cultural celebrations are held all over Okinawa. Don’t be fooled though, this season still has hot enough weather for a midday dip in the ocean or a relaxing afternoon on a pristine white sand beach.

Okinawa in September

The average temperature in September is around 82 F (~28 C). 

September and August can be compared quite similarly since typhoons are likely in September. The weather is humid and HOT.

Crowds will be thinning in September, so you’re less likely to experience crowds. Everything is accessible, but your plans might change if a typhoon hits. Some people have experienced flight cancellations to Okinawa entirely from typhoons, so make sure you don’t leave without getting travel insurance.

Okinawa in October

The average temperature in October is around 78 F (~29 C). 

There are many upsides to visiting Okinawa in October. The island is finally getting a break from the sweltering summer temperatures, crowds have thinned, and prices have decreased going into the off-season. This is a sweet spot to visit given that it’s on the back end of typhoon season, but everything is still open.

Things to do during fall in Okinawa 

Silver Week (mid-September)

Witness the Naha Tug-of-War (October)

Karate Day (October 25th)

Go surfing

Explore castle ruins

 


 

Two whale sharks cross paths inside the tank at the Churami Aquarium in Nago, Okinawa. In front is a silhouette of tourists snapping photos

Winter in Okinawa

November – February

Many travelers avoid winter in Okinawa due to the cooler daytime temperatures, but there are a plethora of reasons why this season is not to be overlooked. Japan’s earliest cherry blossoms bloom this season, whale watching is in its prime among the islands, and many cultural events take place into the new year.

Okinawa in November

The average temperature in November is around 72 F (~23 C). 

November is significantly cooler compared to summer, and the typhoon season officially comes to an end at the end of the month. Ferries to other islands are still operational during this time before the weather really begins to cool heading into December. 

Okinawa in December

The average temperature in December is around 67 F (~19 C). 

The island “winter” is in full force when December rolls around. If your main reason for visiting Okinawa is to hit the beaches and go swimming, this is not the month to visit. This time of year is cheap and uncrowded and perfect for those interested in cultural activities.

Okinawa in January

The average temperature in January is around 63 F (~17 C). 

By January, the beaches are closed for sunbathing and snorkeling, and the sea temperatures are chilly for a dive. Visit this month if you want to celebrate the New Year in Okinawa, view early-season cherry blossoms, or go whale watching.

Every year, Okinawa’s Shinshun no Utage, or New Year’s celebration is held at Shuri-jo Castle which features a recreation of the traditional ceremony that was once performed for the King of the Ryukyu Kingdom and all his officials.

Okinawa in February

The average temperature in February is around 64 F (~18 C). 

Although the weather keeps everyone off the beaches, there are TONS of interesting events and happenings that could make a winter trip to Okinawa exciting. Cherry blossoms will likely be in peak blooms early this month, whales are playing in the surrounding islands, and you can dive for unique wildlife off the coast.

Things to do during winter in Okinawa 

Tsuboya Pottery Festival (November)

Ryukyu Lantern Festival (December)

Okinawa Flower Carnival (February)

Motobu Yaedake Cherry Blossom Festival (mid-January to mid-February)

Whale watching in the Kerama Islands

Diving for hammerhead sharks at Yonaguni Island

 


 

Lush green foliage descends down a hill to the coastline dotted with small villages during one of the best time to visit Okinawa

Spring in Okinawa

March – May

Okinawa and the surrounding islands are breathed back to life when spring flowers and warm weather blanket them once more in spring. Although the ocean temperatures are still cold this season, many beaches will begin to open going into summer.

Okinawa in March

The average temperature in March is around 67 F (~19 C). 

While March isn’t technically the rainy season, it still does drizzle a bit this month so you’ll want to bring an umbrella and layers to combat the cooler weather. The sea temperatures are still pretty chilly this month and beaches are still closed, but it’s warm enough to do outdoor exploring comfortably like the Nagagusuku Castle ruins or shopping on Kokusai Street. 

Okinawa in April

The average temperature in April is around 71 F (~22 C). 

April warms the island enough for some of the beaches to be accessible. Take to any of the white sand beaches but note that the sea temperatures haven’t warmed just yet for swimming. Crowds are thin before the crowds of Holy Week arrive, prices are cheaper, and the weather is very comfortable this month.

Okinawa in May

The average temperature in May is around 76 F (~25 C). 

All the beaches in Okinawa are open come May. If you’re planning a visit to Okinawa this month, it’s crucial that you avoid the first week, which is Holy Week. Travelers from the mainland flock here this month and as a result prices are inflated and there are crowds everywhere.

Outside of that time, the temperature is perfect for lounging at the beach, swimming, snorkeling, and hiking. Ferries are in full operation this month so you can book tickets to Miyako-Jima, Ishigaki, and Ie Islands.

Things to do during spring in Okinawa 

Paantu Festival (May)

Ryukyu Kaiensai Fireworks Festival (April)

Golden Week (end of April through the first week of May)

Naha Hari Dragon Boat Races (May, during Golden Week)

Fireflies on Kume Island (mid-April to early May)

Higashi Village Azalea Festival (March)

All-Okinawa Yachimun Pottery Market (March)

 


 

Best Time to Visit Okinawa (in my opinion)

Outside of typhoon season, Okinawa doesn’t experience extreme seasons and the weather is typically favorable in some capacity year-round, so there really isn’t a bad time to visit.

To experience the true tropical nature of Okinawa, a visit during the summer renders the hottest temperatures and humidity. This season is perfect for water sports like diving since the water is clear and warm, island hopping, or leisure at the beach.

Spring and fall offer pleasant weather, typically minimal rain, and more affordable rates for accommodation. If your Okinawa itinerary is a hybrid between urban and nature activities, this season is great for an all-encompassing visit.

Winter is the coldest time of year to visit Okinawa, but given that the temperature stays around 60 F (16 C), you can still explore the island comfortably with the fewest crowds. It can be a good time if you’re planning to stay in urban areas or looking to travel on a budget.

I recommend visiting in the shoulder months in late April, October, or November. During these times the weather is still warm, humidity is low and the pricing will be slightly cheaper since these aren’t the busiest times to travel.

 


 

What to pack for visiting Okinawa

Any new destination can be stressful when thinking about what you need to pack. This is why I wrote a full and detailed Okinawa packing list you can refer to for your trip.

It covers both wet and dry seasons, as well as everything from clothing essentials to small niche items so you’ll arrive in Okinawa with everything you’ll need.

 


 

If you have any other questions about visiting Okinawa, please reach out! Otherwise, browse my other Okinawa guides to help you plan your trip:

Ultimate Okinawa Itinerary: Best Way To Spend 3-5 Days in Okinawa

Hiking Mt. Katsuudake: Okinawa’s Panoramic View

Okinawa Packing List

Did you find this guide on the best time to visit Okinawa useful? Save it for later on Pinterest!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • I was thinking about going to Okinawa in Mid-April to avoid golden week and take advantage of the beaches, sights, snorkeling and diving and also to avoid typhoon season.

    Do you feel that going in October would be better?

    -Jason

    • Hi Jason,

      April would be fine for sightseeing, but too cold for water sports/beaches. October would be a better fit because the summer temperatures are still lingering and the typhoons are usually gone by that month. Plus there are fewer crowds (:

      Hope this helps,
      Aaren

  • Thank you for the details! We are planning to travel in November 2022 and hope Japan will ease on the Covid restrictions first. Appreciate your time on this useful site.
    Aloha from Oahu.

  • November signs like a lovely time to visit! Not a fan of humidity or intense heat Haha. It sold to me when you said the gift goes away in nov Haha. Saving this for future trip. Really want to explore Okinawa and other islands

    • It’s a really special place! I’m heading there at the end of April and I’m excited to get to the summer weather fast! The first time I went the humidity was the worst I’ve experienced!! I’m looking forward to seeing your adventure!! (:

  • Love the details of this post and how you broke it down for every single month! I hope to visit Japan later this year so I will definitely save this!

  • This is a really helpful guide to the weather in Japan, especially because I love to travel during the shoulder season. You’ve gone a step further for me by highlighting important things to know, typhoon risk, and crowd warnings each month. Thank you for saving me so much research time! It’s all right here for me.