A visit to Naha city in Okinawa should not be complete without visiting the newly developed Umikaji Terrace on Senagajima. The unique shopping area opened in the summer of 2015. It has over 30 shops, restaurants, cafes, and boutiques, and more under construction.The buildings, stairs, and sidewalks are a creamy white colour. There are palm trees and tropical plants in lovely places.
My husband I 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.
Umikaji Terrace, Senagajima
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 finally got one car parked in the upper parking lot.
›› Read about another road trip in Japan
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.
Umikaji Terrace is on a hill. The rooftop of each restaurant is also a lounge or dining area for a different cafe. It’s a nice place to eat lunch and look out over the ocean.
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 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. And there is a cool little cafe where you sit in hammocks to eat.
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. There are much nicer places to play in the ocean in Okinawa. But I suppose you can walk around at low tide looking for shells and rocks, like these people:
Umikaji Terrace 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. 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 and went inside to wait for our plane.
In all, Umikaji Terrace was a wonderful way to spend the last day in Okinawa, and I’m glad we could 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. Website in Japanese for Umikaji Terrace here.
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. But don’t let a possible traffic holdup deter you from going. It’s worth it.
Have you been to Umikaji Terrace? What did you think?
- 5 Beautiful Beaches In Okinawa You Probably Don’t Know About
- Busena Terrace Resort: The Best Hotel In Okinawa To Splurge For A Romantic Weekend