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Golf In Japan Podcast Episode #10

KC and Pro Joe talk about our prefecture of the week; the wonderful Nara, with its very cool courses and persimmon sushi! Of course, the amazing Master's recap dominates the conversation, but we are also excited about our new Titleist rentals- ready to go out, and we visit our course-of-the-week

by Podcast Team

Golf in Okinawa: Japan's Tropical Golf Paradise

by Golf In Japan

Okinawa, Japan's southernmost prefecture, basks in a subtropical climate that invites golf enthusiasts to indulge in their passion year-round. This paradise boasts turquoise oceans, vibrant coral reefs, and consistently mild weather, earning it the nickname "Japan's Hawaii." It's a favorite destination for both Japanese and international tourists seeking a tropical getaway with white sandy beaches, a laid-back island lifestyle, and, of course, world-class golf.

Most of the golf courses are located on the main Okinawa Island, which stretches approximately 100 kilometers in length and 11 kilometers in width. However, golf aficionados can also explore courses on nearby islands like Miyakojima and Ishigaki. The peak season is from the year-end until spring when the Japanese mainland cools down, but Okinawa maintains its warm allure.

Where to Play

Okinawa boasts 21 public golf courses, each offering its unique charm and challenge. However, some of the most renowned courses can be a challenge to secure a tee time at. To ensure you get the chance to play your desired course, our booking team advises booking well in advance.

While course rankings differ with everyone, we try to consider course design, playability, openness to foreigners, English-speaking staff, availability, on-site accommodations, overall experience, dining options, bookings we have made and feedback from our Golf in Japan customers who have played these courses.

Here are a few courses we think you should check out:

  1. Okinawa Royal Golf Club

    This course is right in the heart of Okinawa's main island and is super easy to access, is very casual, and just has the vibe of an easy-breezy municipal club, It's a good spot for beginners and families (and good value too). 

  2. Resonate Kohamajima Country Club

    The resort here is spectacular and the island is only reachable by boat from the nearby Ishigaki. The resort is luxury and the course is an easy stroll,  but the scenery and natural beauty of the island are breathtaking. 

  3. Chura Orchard

    A great golf course is one that is loved and well maintained, the staff are warm and friendly, and so its an easy option for a great day on the links. centrally located near many of the larger resort hotels. The elevation of a lot of the hotels offers spectacular ocean views- worth the price of admission alone.

  4. Bel Beach Golf Club

    This is the course where the famed Miyazato family (Ai Miyazato was world no 1 on the LPGA) honed their skills when they were juniors. The course is mostly flat with some elevated tee shots, The greens are large, measuring an average of 90 square meters but care needs to be given to the ever-present wind, and the layout can be tricky so a player needs to be strategic here. Once again, the views are spectacularly inspiring.

  5. Ocean Links Miyakojima

    Miyakojima is one of the most beautiful islands in Japan, wild peacocks roam the fairways and when the weather cooperates, this unspoiled landscape is a show-stopper. The Course has a challenging layout and plays long, and is in fact the longest course in Okinawa!

  6. Shigira Bay Country Club

    If you are planning on visiting Okinawa during your holiday, you really have to consider going to Miyakojia and this resort, the course is laid out on a spectacular oceanfront property and is just super fun to play. It has amazing accommodation options with 8 hotels in and around the course and all part of the same resort.

  7. Kanucha Golf Course

    An expansive resort golf course boasting 800,000 square meters, ranking it one of the more popular courses in Okinawa. The 'Village Course,' nestled in an Okinawa native forest, winds its way through the trees, the key to scoring well here lies in precise shots rather than pure distance.

    The 'Seaside Course,' which overlooks the grand Pacific Ocean as its name suggests, allows golfers to enjoy breathtaking shots with a magnificent backdrop.  

    Kanucha Resort offers approximately 300 rooms of various types, along with a variety of activity and relaxation plans. The 'Resort Amusement Lounge offers simulation golf, including data from the Kanucha Golf Course, making it a valuable resource for practice before or after your round.

  8. The Southern Links

    There is just a lot to be said about strolling out of your hotel room and onto the first tee, this is a perfect resort on the main island, it's super popular and for good reason, its one of the best courses on the island, challenging and awe-inspiring right next to the ocean. Perfect.

  9. Ginoza Country Club

    This golf course is located in the center of Okinawa and is a tough course! Lots of elevation changes and constant and constant wind. It is easily accessible from the interchange, and is popular with lower handicap golfers who like a challenge!

  10. Ocean Castle Country Club

    A suburban golf course adjacent to the World Heritage Site Nakagusukuji, perched on a hill with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. It features 18 holes that provide magnificent panoramas overlooking Nakagusuku Bay. The outward course challenges golfers with a variety of strategies, making use of its diverse greens and elevation changes. Meanwhile, the inward course offers an ever-changing view, set against a backdrop of lush forests and tranquil water features.

Apres Golf

Whether you've just completed an exhilarating round of golf on the main island or its neighboring counterparts, Okinawa has something in store for you. Rent a car upon arrival for convenience and explore Route#58, renowned for its coastal vistas and cultural attractions.

Events and Seasonal Highlights

Okinawa's festival calendar ensures there's always something exciting happening throughout the year. Some crowd favorites include:

The Ryukyu Lantern Festival (December to mid-February) at the Murasaki Mura cultural park, features traditional Okinawan cultural performances illuminated by thousands of Chinese lanterns.
Whale watching from December to April around Chibishi and the Kerama Islands, where humpback whales make a grand appearance.
The Naha Festival (held in October) is Okinawa's largest event, featuring a wide range of traditional and contemporary Okinawan performances and hosting the Guinness Book of Records' largest tug-of-war event.

Okinawan Flavors

Okinawan cuisine offers a unique blend of flavors that reflect the island's distinct vibe. Must-try dishes include Taco Rice (imagine taco ingredients atop a bed of rice) and pork-belly dishes like Rafutee.

For an authentic culinary experience, head to Kokusai Dori-Yatai-mura in the southern region. This area boasts over 20 stalls serving traditional Okinawan dishes made with local ingredients, accompanied by lively performances on the stage.

Seafood lovers won't be disappointed, with fresh catches like lobster, sea urchin, and locally caught tempura available at the Awase or Toya fishing ports.


Okinawa offers some unique souvenirs for visitors to take home. Consider purchasing a bottle of 'Awamori,' a sugarless shochu unique to the region. For good luck, Shisa Guardian Lions, traditional protectors of Okinawan homes, make for excellent keepsakes.

And don't forget to grab a box of Okinawa cookies, available in various flavors, including Okinawan sea salt, brown sugar, and sweet potato, to share with friends and family back home.

In Okinawa, you'll discover a perfect blend of beaches, bars, and golf, all set against a subtropical backdrop. The warm climate ensures your golfing experience is as enjoyable as the scenic beauty that surrounds you.

Getting there

For travelers coming from different parts of Japan, getting to Okinawa is relatively easy:

From Osaka: Fly from Kansai International Airport to Okinawa, with options from JAL or ANA Airways taking approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes.
From Tokyo: Consider flying from Narita Airport (Jetstar) for a cost-effective option, albeit with a slightly longer flight duration of around 3 hours and 35 minutes. Several daily flights connect Tokyo to Okinawa.

Miyakojima and Ishigaki islands are also reachable directly from Tokyo or Osaka.