Having a car on island is the most ideal situation, however, it can be an expensive option. What if you can’t drive? Taxi’s are also expensive, especially for longer journeys. Okinawa has a monorail system, which only serves Naha, and no train network. That leaves us with buses. Here’s a quick guide to get you moving.
The bus network is vast, reliable, and pocket friendly. It’s also simple to use. All you need to know is your stop name and the number of the buses that run between the places you wish to go. A lot of journeys don’t even require a change! All buses headed south terminate at Naha’s bus terminal, so if you’re looking to go into the city, as long as you’re heading South, any bus is fine. Going to other places is also simple. There is a helpful website (http://www.kotsu-okinawa.org/en/index.html) that has maps, bus numbers, times, and destinations, so it’s easy to look up stops and plan a journey. The website has English and Japanese language options.
Once you’ve planned your journey, it’s time to get on! When your bus arrives, take a ticket from the machine next to the driver. It’ll have a number on it. There’s a screen up front that shows a list of numbers, with prices in yen underneath. These will increase as the journey goes on. When you arrive at your stop, you will pay the price corresponding to your ticket number. To pay, you will need yen cash. You can use a 1000 yen note, and get change back, or use exact change in coins. The bus driver doesn’t carry change, and they are unable to accept notes bigger than 1000 yen, so make sure you are prepared. You can also buy passes, there is more information on the different types and prices here: http://okinawabus.com/en/rb/rb_ticketinfo/rb_tickettype/.
The bus is a great way to save money and see the island. Plan your journey, and let us know on Facebook (facebook.com/totalokinawa) or twitter (twitter.com/totalokinawa) about your adventures!