Mar 2, 2018
Reasons to drive in Okinawa (with rental cars)
When you visit a big city in Japan like Tokyo, Nagoya, or Osaka, you do not need to get a car in order to travel around since the public transportation system is so well established and easy to use. In fact, many people would advise you against the idea of driving, as the traffic in big cities is usually terrible and driving could end up taking you longer than if you took the train. Also, parking fees may be an unexpected expense that might shock you at the end.
In Okinawa, however, I would highly recommend you to consider renting a car for your trip.
1. Inaccessible places
My biggest reason as to why it might be important to get a car is that the public transportation in Okinawa is not the most extensive, and there are many sight-seeing spots, especially spots of nature that would be rather inconvenient for you to go to using public transport. The beautiful Cape Manzamo by the seaside and the hundred-year-old restaurant Hyakunen-koya Ufuya are just two examples that would be much easier for you to reach if you had a car. As you check your guide book or do research online, you might find more and more destinations that would benefit if you had a car, so consider it a method to expand or ease your travel, even if you have to be behind wheel yourself.
2. Enjoy driving
Whenever my uncle visits Okinawa, and he visits really often with his family because they love the place, he ALWAYS rents a car. His reason, as he told me is that he just enjoys the process of driving itself, and Okinawa has some of the widest and most relaxing roads he has ever driven on. Drivers in Okinawa are relatively friendly compared to other countries and big cities, including those in Japan, but also, thanks to the wide roads, you feel the freedom as you step on the pedals, and he considers it one of the best activities to do on the islands. Almost all rental cars come with a GPS system that is easy to use as well, so he feels very little stress even though he is a driving in a different country on a different side of the road.
As for the passengers (and the driver too), many of the routes are along the seaside or in mountains, providing you with plenty of beautiful scenery to enjoy. I usually sleep when I'm on a road trip, but I whole-heartedly enjoy the rides in Okinawa.
3. It really isn't expensive
Really, driving in Okinawa is more affordable than you might expect. You can simply book your rental cars online before your travel so that someone from the rental car company would pick you up from the airport and bring you to your rental car. If you book early, you can get a full day for as cheap as 4,000 yen. If you have a family of 4 or are traveling with 3 other friends, that is just a thousand yen per person per day.
The last time I was in Okinawa we used OTS. The car was very clean, the service was friendly. They were people speaking English as well. No complaints at all. Here is their website: OTS Car Rental And it is just one of the many available.
At the end of the day, I believe that using a rental car in Okinawa will bring you a better travel experience on the main island (Okinawa Honto). It brings you to cool and beautiful places directly and affordably, while also letting you enjoy the process itself. The next time you book your flight to Okinawa, look into booking a rental car plan, too!