Are you looking for a cool day trip on Okinawa Main Island that is fun for the whole family? Making a combination of Kouri Island and the Tataki Waterfall gives a great mix of action and relaxation with amazing views! We rented a car (from ~4500 JPY/day) and headed up north from our resort in Yomitan.
The small Kouri Island near the central part of Okinawa Main Island is surrounded by emerald water and white sandy beaches. It’s a bit off the beaten tourist tracks, so especially off-season you can enjoy the wonderful environment in peace. There isn’t much there besides the beaches and some amazing restaurants and cafes, so it lends itself to a perfect day trip. You can also stay overnight in a luxury accommodation if you want to make it a real little getaway.
We visited Kouri Island on a nice and sunny day in April. Before passing the bridge leading to the island we stopped at a parking lot with an amazing view. It seemed to be a popular spot for taking pictures as we were far from alone here.
We then had an early lunch in Airando Fiji Restaurant & Cafe, a very pretty and modern space with one of the best views in Okinawa. The food was really delicious, we had tacos and curry with starters and a dessert for around 2500 yen. It’s not cheap for lunch in Japan, but it was definitely worth the splurge.
Then we went to Chigunu Beach near the bridge, which was a very beautiful white beach. In April, the water is still a bit cold but if you don’t mind that it’s a refreshing swim. We do recommend going on a not-so-windy day, as the waves will be much calmer then.
After lounging around the beach for a bit we headed to the Tataki (or Ta waterfall) parking area. The road you have to turn right to isn’t well-marked, so it’s good to use your navigation system or Google maps. Parking costs 500 yen if you don’t stay over 2 hours, which is usually enough. You will get a card with an English explanation when entering the parking lot.
After putting our swimsuits, rash guards, life vest, and marine shoes on we went on our way. It is a short walk through the countryside to the start of the river trek. The river was surrounded by lush greenery and pleasantly cool. Rocks and narrow passageways made the trek fun and a little challenging, but my 9-year old had no problems finishing the route. It took us around 30 minutes to get to the goal, the Tataki waterfall with a small pool in front.
Many hikers take a break here before heading back the same way, and I highly recommend taking a dip in the refreshing water. There’s a Tarzan rope that everyone can use, and those brave enough went behind the waterfall to enjoy the mist.
Handy Tips for this Day Trip
Of course, you need to bring your swimming gear on this trip. We recommend wearing a rash guard that covers most of your arms and legs. Marine shoes are also indispensable. This gear will protect you from corals, jellyfish, rocks, sunburn, and mosquitos. Sunscreen and mosquito spray for your exposed skin is also handy. Kids also have to wear a life vest at the waterfall. You can rent both life vests and marine shoes for a small fee at the parking lot of the waterfall. Don’t forget to bring your towels, and bring a bottle of water for everyone.
If you are planning to enter the sea on Kouri Island, it is a great idea to also bring a snorkeling set. If the sea is calm enough, it is a great place to snorkel.
We recommend leaving on time in the morning, especially if you are coming from Naha or elsewhere down south. From many popular resort areas, it is a drive of around 1.5-2 hours to Kouri Island. The island is definitely the best place for lunch as you won’t find much around the Tataki Waterfall area. The parking area near the Tataki Waterfall closes at 5.30 pm, so it is recommended to arrive no later than 4 pm.
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