A visit to Naha city in Okinawa should not be complete without visiting the newly developed Umikaji Terrace.
Built on Senagajima, right next to the airport, the whitewashed buildings and steps of Umikaji Terrace will make you think you are in Santorini, Greece.
My husband and I recently went to celebrate our anniversary. I told him we should visit Umikaji Terrace – a new shopping and hangout area. Although he is from Okinawa, he didn’t know what I was talking about. He knows it better as Senagajima, which is the name of the small island.
The unique shopping area opened in the summer of 2015. It has over 30 shops, restaurants, cafes, and boutiques, and more under construction. It’s still relatively new.
The buildings, stairs, and sidewalks are a creamy white colour. There are palm trees and tropical plants in lovely places. I have not been to Santorini, Greece, but I have seen pictures. And there are some serious similarities between the two, in my opinion.
On a Monday afternoon we had lunch and ice cream together at an outlet mall in Naha. Then we were on our way to Umikaji Terrace in two cars.
We arrived at Senagajima around 2 PM.
There is only one bridge to the island, and it has a single lane going in each direction. As we drove around trying to find a parking spot, traffic leaving the island was almost at a stand-still. We spotted a bright blue Lamborghini – I will mention it again later.
We finally got one car parked in the upper parking lot. While we waited for the second car to park in the lower parking lot, I walked to the little park area to watch planes leaving. They take-off and fly directly overhead, so it was fun to watch.
When we were together, we walked to the shops. I pulled out my camera and tried to look like I knew what I was doing with it, taking pictures of stairways and buildings. I was happy to be in such a different and pretty part of Okinawa that I had never seen before.
Umikaji Terrace is on a hill. The rooftop of each restaurant is also a lounge or dining area for a different cafe.
Like I said, it is still under construction. One side of the hill is still being developed. Parking areas and roads are still being paved too, so some places are less attractive. But it’s just for now, and the construction isn’t too much of an eyesore.
Umikaji Terrace is quite a lovely little beachy hangout.
You could easily spend a few hours checking out shops and trying tasty things in the cafes. I was quite stuffed from lunch, so my husband and I shared a shikuwasa smoothie. I want to try the Okinawa-style doughnuts, sata-andagi, next time.
To top off a fun day, the sun was finally shining after three days of clouds and rain.
It is also possible to do water activities here, and we did see a couple people paddle boarding. But to be honest, this didn’t seem like the most beautiful beach in Okinawa. It’s quite close to the airport, the city, and currently construction to expand the airport, so there were barges and things in the water.
But I suppose you can walk around at low tide looking for shells and rocks, like these people:
Umikaji Terrace is on a small hill on Senagajima and looks out over the ocean.
It faces the setting sun, so a sunset would have been spectacular to watch from the whitewashed hill. We didn’t have time to stay for that though.
We walked through the shops and on the road down by the water. When it was time to leave, we know that we would be stuck in traffic. My husband went to the upper parking area to get something from the car, and he said the blue Lamborghini was still there. We had been walking around for at least two hours, and the poor driver had hardly moved.
By some luck, it only took us ten minutes to leave from the lower parking lot, so we got to the airport in plenty of time. Then we said a tearful goodbye to my husband’s family and went inside to wait for our plane.
In all, Umikaji Terrace was a wonderful way to spend the last day in Okinawa with his family, and I’m glad we could all check out the new Umikaji Terrace.
Access and stay
Umikaji Terrace is 15 minutes from Naha Airport by car. It’s so close you will regularly see and hear planes overhead. There is a free shuttle from the Akamine Monorail Station every 30 minutes from 8:30 to 21:00.
A half-day is enough to explore Umikaji Terrace and check out all the shops and find some yummy things to eat. But if you really want to take it easy, there is a hotel located right on the island. It’s called Ryukyu Onsen Senagajima Hotel and is on the top of the hill with all the shops below. It also has pool with a vanishing edge that looks out over the water.
If you are going on a weekend or national holiday, plan your trip accordingly because you might be waiting in traffic to find a parking spot or get off the island, at least for now while construction is still ongoing.
But don’t let a possible traffic holdup deter you from going. It’s worth it. Just look at these cute white stairs and white walls:
Let me know if you have been to Umikaji Terrace before or if you want to go. What did you think of it?
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