VISIT OKINAWA JAPAN Official Okinawa Travel Guide

To Have an Enjoyable and Safe Okinawa Trip

To have an enjoyable and safe Okinawa trip

In order to have a worry-free Okinawa trip.
Okinawa’s weather and ecosystem are different from that of mainland Japan. In the ocean, there are dangerous creatures like jellyfish, and the UV rays are also very strong so there are chances of unforeseen accidents occurring. Before you go to the beach or swim make sure you check the warning sign.

Guarding against heat stroke / sunburn

The sun’s rays in Okinawa are very strong, and even the locals do not swim in just brief bathing suits.
Sunburn from UV rays will cause a high temperature, skin can also blister and be very painful. In extreme cases you may need to be admitted to a hospital. Make sure you take full measures against UV rays.
In addition, if you are out in the sun for a long time you are likely to get heat stroke*, therefore care must be taken.
Take in water and salt as often as you can, and have a hat, parasol, sunglasses, sunscreen and something to put on to guard your skin against the sun’s rays. Furthermore, for children, and those who do not want to get sunburnt, we recommend that you wear a rash guard.
*Heatstroke is a general term for a disorder that occurs when the body temperature cannot adjust to a high-temperature environment and the balance between water and salt (sodium) in the body breaks down.

Places where swimming is banned

You can swim in places where the change in the tide is relatively small and places where dangerous creatures are unlikely to appear. In places designated as a Swimming Prohibited Area, there are chances of coming into contact with dangerous creatures and risking your life due to rapid change in the tide and strong sea currents. When you are swimming or snorkeling, please do so only at a “Designated Swimming Area” and follow the instructions of the lifeguards and lifesavers.
*If you are involved in an accident at sea in a swimming prohibited zone, it is your own responsibility, so please be careful.

About coral reef

Okinawa has rare corals, many of which t seldom can be found in Japan. In recent years, the number of living coral has reduced, so we request that you please adhere to the below-mentioned points in order to protect the ecosystem, and to safely enjoy swimming and marine sports.

Do not swim during low tide

At an extremely wide shallow beach during low tide do not go into the water, but rather stay on the water’s edge. If you swim in shallow water not only will you injure yourself with cuts from the coral, but you will also destroy the precious coral.

Do not feed the fish

Feeding the fish may badly influence the ecosystem of the fish. Especially feeding them bread, processed meats and sweets, there are additives in these products and they may harm the fish and destroy the ecosystem.

Do not go out into the open sea

In Okinawa there are shallow reefs but also many areas where beyond that it suddenly becomes very deep past the reef edge. Outside the reef, waves are strong and depending on the time, the tide shifts rapidly and accidents can easily occur, therefore, please be extremely careful when snorkeling or diving.

About the danger of tide

In swimming prohibited areas the undercurrent is dangerous and may lead to accidents. We would like to inform you of the characteristics of especially dangerous undercurrents and ways to avoid them, and other important points to keep in mind.

Rip Current
This is an undercurrent that flows strongly from the shore out into the open sea; the width can be anywhere between 10 to 30 meters and speeds can be 2 meters per second, so even for a competitive swimmer it is difficult to swim against. Either wait patiently for someone to come and rescue you, or for those who are confident about swimming you can get out of a rip by swimming parallel with the shore.

Reef Current
This is one variety of a rip current and this is a rapid and dangerous current that flows outside the reef, and you will be taken out to the open sea very quickly if you get caught by this current. If you are taken out into the open sea, similar to the rip current, swim parallel to the shore to get out of the current.

Down Current
This is also a variety of a rip current, but it is an undercurrent that takes you to the bottom of the ocean. Similar to a reef current, it occurs outside a reef and like a washing machine it swirls to the bottom of the ocean. Especially divers and those snorkeling should check safety points with a local guide or shop assistants beforehand.

Safety measures when snorkeling: Be careful of these five points!

When snorkeling safety measures are a must. Not only for beginners to snorkeling, but even those with experience, nobody shouldn’t take the risks lightly.

In order to have an enjoyable time, acquire proper knowledge and prepare fully.

1. Wear a life jacket
By ensuring buoyancy, you are able to float stably on the water surface, making your time in the water much safer.

2. Have a buddy system (2 people operate as 1 pair) in place
Prepare for accidents and avoid snorkeling alone. In addition, snorkel for a maximum of 1 hour at a time (as a guide).

3. Alcohol is prohibited and when feeling unwell do not snorkel.
After drinking alcohol, or when feeling unwell, the risks are heightened and this increases the likelihood of an accident occurring

4. Act carefully and do not overdo it.
The ocean is full of danger. Prepare fully, by staying informed about the weather, sea conditions, and suitable places to swim. When in doubt do not overdo anything.

5. Learn how to use equipment properly
“I thought I knew” will invite unforeseen accidents. Check one more time on how to properly use the snorkel, goggle and fins.

There are many snorkeling accidents
In order to prevent accidents from occurring, make sure you are advised by experienced snorkelers and instructors about how to use each piece of equipment and are made aware of the things to watch out for.
In the beginning, we recommend that you practice at a pool or at a shallow beach where you can stand up.

If you raise your chin, the tip of the snorkel will dip into the water.

Breathe out in one big blow and the air to push the water out of the snorkel.

Lifting your chin raises the tip of the snorkel out of the water.

Safety measures for diving: Be mindful of these 5 points!

When diving, safety measures are a must. Of course for those diving for the first time, but even experienced divers should not take the requisite precautions lightly. In order to have a lasting memory acquire appropriate knowledge and prepare fully.

1. Improve your diving skills
Acquire the necessary diving skills to dive in the ocean and keep improving your skills

2. Thorough health management
Determine whether you have a chronic disease and if necessary obtain a doctor’s letter of consent. Try not to board a plane the same day you have been diving.

3. Do not overdo it
You need to be prepared to give up diving if, on the day, you are not physically and mentally ready. Thoroughly manage your health, such as getting plenty of sleep and avoiding drinking too much the night before.

4. Thorough planning and meeting
Confirm not only the dive duration, depth, submersible pressure and route, but also EN / EX method, precautions to take at diving spots, hand signals, what to do in an emergency etc. If you have any concerns, please consult the staff.

5. Safety comes with the use of proper equipment
It is very dangerous to use equipment that is not properly maintained. In order to enjoy worry free diving every time, keep your equipment in the best condition.

Don’t touch! Dangerous marine life

You must be always careful with dangerous marine species that inhabit rocky shores and so on when snorkeling. Touching venomous creatures with needles or tentacles will cause extreme pain. Box jellyfish, which appear in summer, are just one example. In addition to the list below, the beautiful, but deadly, cephalopod Blue-ringed octopus has been found in Okinawan waters. In case of injury from poisonous marine animals, apply first aid and then seek medical treatment immediately.

Box jellyfish

First aid
Immediately leave the water, and pour vinegar liberally on the tentacles. Do not rub the stung area. Carefully remove inactivated tentacles, and chill the painful area with ice or cold water.

They appear from May to October and are distributed throughout Okinawa. The bell of jellyfish is semi-transparent so it is difficult to see in the water. Be careful because they can be found even in shallow waters around 50 centimeters deep. When stung, it is very painful and causes welts.

Portuguese Man-of-War

First aid
Rinse with seawater, remove remaining tentacles or cnidocyte, chill painful area with ice or cold water. *NEVER treat with vinegar.

Usually floating in open tropical oceans, it has a blue pod which floats with numerous long blue tentacles. Strong onshore winds sometimes blow them into bays and up onto beaches.

Night Anemone

First aid
Rinse with seawater, remove remaining tentacles or cnidocyte, chill painful area with ice or cold water. *NEVER treat with vinegar.

An extremely poisonous anemone, diameter 10-20 centimeters. Found in shallow lagoons, stinging occurs when carelessly snorkeling or reef walking at low tide.

Cone Snails

First aid
Squeeze out the venom, and transport to the hospital immediately.

These snails have shells about 10 centimeters long, with reddish-brown, net-like pattern. The poison is a neurotoxin, which causes almost no pain, but result in paralysis leading to the danger of drowning.

Sea Snakes

First aid
Squeeze out the venom, and transport to the hospital immediately.

Sea snakes are related to cobras, and have a strong nerve poison. A sting results in difficulty breathing, hypotension or paralysis in around 30 minutes. Leave the water and seek medical help immediately.

Blue-ringed Octopus

First aid
Do not attempt to suck the venom out. Squeeze out the venom, and transport to the hospital immediately.

A small pale octopus only 12 cm in diameter. When surprised or stimulated, it forms beautiful, bright-blue rings. The sting contains tetrodotoxin, like pufferfish. Its bite comes from the mouth located between the arms.


First aid
Remove visible spines and soak in 40 to 45 degrees water. You can also apply a plastic bag of hot water (be careful not to burn the wound area).

In addition to being the color and shape of stones and rocks, stonefish stay motionless and therefore, stings often occur when they are carelessly stepped on. Spines are so sharp that they can pierce rubber-soled shoes. They are also found in shallow water so extra caution is necessary.

Stripe-eel Catfish

First aid
Remove visible spines and soak in 40 to 45 degree water. You can also apply a plastic bag of hot water (be careful not to burn the wound area).

Have venomous spines in their dorsal and pectoral fins, and inhabit shallow reef and sanded shallow water. They have a tendency for group behavior, and juveniles Striped-eel Catfish form dense schools shaped like a ball.


First aid
Remove visible spines and soak in 40 to 45 degrees water. You can also apply a plastic bag of hot water, (be careful not to burn the wound area).

The dorsal, ventral and anal fins contain venom. They look beautiful, move extremely slowly, and even when chased hardly try to escape. When surprised, the dorsal fins are raised in a threatening gesture.

Black Long Spine Urchin

First aid
Remove visible spines and soak in 40 to 45 degrees water. You can also apply a plastic bag of hot water (be careful not to burn the wound area).

Tropical sea urchin have a 5 centimeter shell, but the spines are three times longer and have poison on the tips. Sometimes broken spines get stuck in your body, which results in pain and swelling.

Crown of Thorns Starfish

First aid
Remove visible spines and soak in 40 to 45 degrees water. You can also apply a plastic bag of hot water (be careful not to burn the wound area).

These are large-scale starfish with 10 to 20 arms bearing poisonous spines. Sting results in sharp pain, swelling or in severe cases may bring on anaphylactic shock.

118 is the emergency contact of the Japan Coast Guard. If you come across any chance maritime accident or injury call the 118 number without an area code!
You can call Mobile phone or PHS

Warnings about Habu snakes

In Okinawa, Habu snakes become very active when the temperature becomes warm. Habu snakes mainly live in grasslands and forested areas so it is rare that you would come across them, but sometimes they can be found in small city parks.

Habu snake

A black complicated pattern on a yellow or white body. They eat rats hence many exist near homes.

Hime Habu Snake

Black spots on grey or brown

Sakishima Habu Snake

A black jagged pattern on a brown body

What if you see a habu snake?

1. If you can leave then do so, and keep a distance of at least 1.5 meters. (Habu snakes cannot jump, and 1.5 meters is out of their striking zone.)

2. If you come across a habu and you want it caught, please contact each municipalities’ habu office and they will remove it.

3. If you think your life is in danger and want it caught immediately, ring 110 and have the police catch it.

If bitten by a habu

Do not exert yourself, ask for help from someone nearby and immediately get treatment at a medical institution.

1. Do not panic and confirm whether it is a habu or not.
Even if you do not know what kind of snake it is, a habu would normally have two fangs (sometimes 1 or 4) and it will swell within a few minutes and is very painful.

2. Shout out loudly for help, and seek treatment at a medical institution.
If you run, the poison will spread faster so either have someone take you to a hospital by car, or walk to the hospital slowly.

3. If it takes too long to go to the hospital, use a wide belt shaped cloth such as a bandage or a necktie to lightly bind the area, keeping it loose enough so you can fit one finger inside. Tie it lightly to decrease the flow of the blood and untie it once every 15 minutes. You should never tie it tight with a thin rope. If you tie it tightly out of fear, the blood flow will stop and it will have a negative effect.