About Okinawa Hai


Once upon a time, in a land far, far OCONUS, Mr. & Mrs. MilitaryFamily arrived in Okinawa. Mr. MilFam headed off to work and Mrs. MilFam, Baby 1 and Baby 2-on-the-way sat at home. And they sat… wondering what to do and where to go. Finally, Mrs. MilFam decided to head out and explore… and then blog about it, because she’s cool like that. She wanted to share what she learned with you, in case you might just be sitting too.

Soon some writer friends joined the blog, and before long OkinawaHai.com as we know it came to be. In 2012 Okinawa Hai was joined by network websites for military audiences in Germany, Korea and Turkey. In the fall of 2016 ownership and management of Okinawa Hai changed hands, and Okinawa Hai became an independent website of its own once again.

Our mission is to encourage military folk living overseas and regular tourists to get out and explore our wonderful world. (Psst – we’re not run by any government agency. More on that on our Legal Page.)

Sometimes when you receive orders overseas, your response is YIKES!  It is our hope that the information found on our site – written by people just like you – can change your YIKES! to YES!  (That’s why the second word in our site name means YES in Japanese.)

Okinawa? Yes! Okinawa Hai! 

Now we are working to have content that is helpful for all travelers visiting any country. Firstly, we will publish a bunch of packing lists but later we will share travel tips from expats for most destinations in the world.

If you see any errors or anything that needs updating, please message us via our FB page HERE.


  • If you are sponsoring a family, this could be the ground level for them as they prepare to move here.
  • If you are a regular tourist, you may find value in our global travel packing lists.
  • If you are moving to Okinawa, this could be a way to get relevant information, ask for information that is not here and communicate with people who are in Okinawa and probably had the very same questions and concerns as you do right now. The Island Newbie page is your perfect jumping-off point for gaining info, and our Facebook Q&A Group is a great place to ask all those burning questions.
  • If you are new here and trying to get your bearings, this is a place to connect with people and places and activities that tickle your fancy.  You can also find members of our community on our Facebook Page.
  • Or even if you’re not so new but looking for a way to spice up your ho-hum, boring island life, we can help you find a new place to visit or new restaurant to try out this weekend.



All of the contributors listed below have contributed 10 or more posts to Okinawa Hai, with the most recent first and working back. 

Michelle CaminaMichelle C.

Experienced the Hai Life:  August 2003-2009 and February 2013 to present
Relationship to the Military:  USMC spouse, Community Volunteer
Okinawa Favorites:  The island’s turquoise beaches, lush flora, exotic fauna, delicious foods, insane shopping, historical sites, Okinawan culture and people. I am adamant that Okinawa is hands down the best duty station in the entire Marine Corps and am a firm believer that it is impossible to have a bad tour out here.

Louise DupuyLouise D.
Experienced the Hai Life: 2015-present
Relationship to the Military: USMC spouse; aspiring travel writer.
Okinawa Favorites: This is a tough choice, I adore everything about Okinawa! But if I really had to choose, I’d say Kitanakagusuku, the weather (I’m from England, this subtropical climate is a dream!), the ocean, the food, and the weird and wonderful things you can only find in Japan (24 hour thrift shops, purikura, cute kitty things).

Marissa OH writerMarissa M.

Experienced the Hai Life:  2013-Present
Relationship to the Military: USAF Spouse and English Teacher/Aspiring Writer (including one year at Okinawa Christian School International)
Okinawa Favorites: the Seawall, unique beach treasures, Cocok Nails, Typhoon days, Daiso, and pretty cafe food

Emily Burkey OH ContributorEmily B.

Experienced the Hai Life:  Spring 2013 – Present
Relationship to the Military: USAF Spouse and working as an off base housing agent
Okinawa Favorites: Island life is so relaxing and the weather is great. I can work on my tan and a grow a garden year round here. Farmers markets are open daily and being off base is such an adventure.

Hannah C.

Hannah CExperienced the Hai Life:  Sept 2013 – present
Relationship to the Military:  U.S. Air Force spouse
Okinawa Favorites: There isn’t too much about Okinawa that isn’t a favorite for me! I love how much there is to do, I really feel that there is something for everyone here despite Okinawa not being a huge island.  I adore the subtropical climate and I love being so close to the ocean, I am a huge fan of the food and the cafe culture but my most favorite thing about Okinawa are the people & culture.

Kacey A.

KaceyAHeadshotExperienced the Hai Life: 2013 to Present
Relationship to the Military: Independent Dependent
Okinawa Favorites: Diving in the endless blue ocean. Cultural festivals.  Ease of traveling to numerous countries. Okinawan & Japanese food.  Being in the jungle, the ocean and the mountains in the same day.  Taiko drumming & Eisa dancing. Farmers markets & local grocery stores.  Daily life.
Experienced the Hai Life: From 2003-2009, and 2013 to present.
Relationship to Military: Active Duty Marine with well over 20 something + years time in service.
Okinawa Favorites: I am privileged to enjoy the safe environment for my family and warm hospitable culture of the local Okinawan people. I enjoy sharing the remarkable myriad of activities and experiences literally found around every turn with fellow adventure seekers. I challenge anyone reading this to brush off those writing and photo skills to document your stories with Okinawa Hai.

Experienced the Hai Life:  September of 2012 to 2015
Relationship to the Military:  Marine Corps spouse
Okinawa Favorites: Okinawa had me wrapped around its little finger the first time I saw the turquoise, crystal-clear ocean. Then, there’s the locals that show me all the friendliness in the world, the abundance of hidden gems that I love to discover, and the travel opportunities that are extraordinary! What isn’t to love?!

Previously managed our Okinawa Hai Twitter & Instagram accounts


Leah MagidExperienced the Hai Life:  October of 2010 to 2014
Relationship to the Military:  We are DoD Civilians
Okinawa Favorites:  It’s so easy for me to love Okinawa. Once I got over the culture shock, I was completely head-over-heels with the weather, the kindness, the depth of the culture and the opportunities to learn new things. 

Previously served as Okinawa Hai Facebook Q&A Group Moderator

Heather O

Heather O

Experienced the Hai Life: February 2012
Relationship to the Military: Marine Corps spouse
Okinawa Favorites: Exploring! There are always new things to explore on the island.


Kelly G

kelly gillottiExperienced the Hai Life:  Two bliss-filled years, from May 2012 to June 2014
Relationship to the Military: Marine Corps spouse
Okinawa Favorites: I love the language, the culture, and the hilariously mistranslated signs; the kindness and courtesy of strangers; the appreciation from the locals as I try to have a conversation in Japanese; watching the sun set at Araha Beach; 100 yen beer during happy hour at Genki Izakaya; the milky macadamia nut pancakes at Climax Coffee, the bread at Boulangerie Epi de Ble, the noodles at Linya Ramen, and the steam buns at How Tsu; when small children say “hello” and their giggles when I return in kind; I’ve learned to love and appreciate goya; the random parks peppered throughout the island, and the breath-taking views of the ocean. Above all, I most love the farmers markets; there is always something new to research, and cook. I love the purple foods of Okinawa: beni imo, purple carrots, purple okra, and Okinawan spinach.


laurasnellExperienced the Hai Life:  On and off for 4 years
Relationship to the Military: Working as a civilian contractor on Oki
Okinawa Favorites: Exploring new areas, especially new eateries 🙂 I also love to get off the beaten path! Getting lost and stumbling upon something new!


ShellExperienced the Hai Life:  June 2012 to present
Relationship to the Military: Civilian working for the Air Force
Okinawa Favorites:  Exploring the island with my family and experiencing all the wonderful things Okinawa has to offer: eating the amazing and varying cuisine, investigating castle ruins, hunting for sea-glass and treasures on the beautiful beaches, watching breathtaking sunrises and sunsets, experiencing the wonderful culture, visiting the Churaumi Aquarium and Okinawa Zoo, but most of all just walking along the beach and sea wall with my family. I love the Okinawa life!



Experienced the Hai Life: 2012 to 2015
Relationship to the Military: USMC spouse
Okinawa Favorites: sushi, snorkeling, running on the seawall

Previously served as Okinawa Hai Local & Submissions Manager


Amy Pic

Experienced the Hai Life: June 2011 to 2015
Relationship to the Military: DoDDs teacher on Kadena and married to a civilian working for the Air Force
Okinawa Favorites: Traveling and exploring the island and all the amazing things that are here to see and do, the culture, the amazingly friendly people, beaches, sunsets, festivals, Churaumi Aquarium, Ryukyu Glass, sea-glass hunting on the beaches, but most of all, snorkeling!



Experienced the Hai Life:  February 2011 to 2014
Relationship to the Military: None; I am an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) for Urasoe Commercial/Technical High School.
Okinawa Favorites: scootering around the island; the people I’ve come across; the beaches; taking ferries to outer islands; the cafes; the sunsets; the food.



Experienced the Hai Life: 2010 to 2014
Relationship to the Military: USMC spouse
Okinawa Favorites: Making friends with the Japanese and learning their language and culture… hoping I will one day be able to have conversations with them instead of just exchanging of words. “Oishii” food, “kawaii” fashion sense, “utsukushii” beaches & sunsets, POPS, being in Asia and space “A’ opportunities, 100 yen store and sticky pics!



Q About

Experienced the Hai Life: April 2011 to 2013
Relationship to the Military: Active Duty Air Force
Okinawa Favorites: All of the castle ruins, the beaches in Onna, Cape Maeda, Manza-mo, Cape Hedo, the Keramas, Kajin-ho…

All-Star Overseas Yes contributor to all our network sites


erin schalk

Experienced the Hai Life: 2010 to 2013
Relationship to the Military: Air Force spouse
Okinawa Favorites: Exploring Okinawa’s art community, meeting local artists, trying to improve at bingata, learning Japanese and interacting with friends and neighbors, gaining a new perspective on life & culture.


Sarra About

Experienced the Hai Life:  2009 to present
Relationship to the Military:  None, I live on Okinawa as an English teacher
Okinawa Favorites:  Shintoshin; the food; the backstreets of Kokusai-dori; Okinawa Prefectural Peace Park; Saicolo; tabehodai & nomehodai; Zamami-jima; purikura; karaoke; conbinis


Experienced the Hai Life:  2010 to present
Relationship to the Military:  USMC spouse
Okinawa Favorites:  The food; Japanese friends and my students; Family Mart, Lawson’s, or Coco’s; hole-in-the-wall cafes or shops; mama-sans and papa-sans; sunsets; roller slides. traveling to neighboring countries; communicating with the Japanese and realizing that a smile really is a universal language.


Analicia OH bio pic

Experienced the Hai Life:  2009 to 2012
Relationship to the Military:  USMC spouse
Okinawa Favorites:  Goen, the festivals, Cocok’s, Sunabe Ba Ba park, Arashi, Comprehensive Park, the people, the views



Sarah-Forte-GJ-pic-150x150Experienced the Hai Life:  2009 – 2012
Relationship to the Military:  My husband is active duty and I worked as a full-time civilian for the Air Force
Okinawa Favorites: Traveling around Asia, SCUBA, trying new restaurants (over 110 in our 3 years!), and our wonderful hosts for three years: the people of Okinawa.

Previously served as Okinawa Hai Local & Submissions manager; founder of GermanyJa.com


PamelaExperienced the Hai Life: March 2008 to 2013
Relationship to the Military:  USMC spouse
Okinawa Favorites: The colours, the people, the photographic opportunities, the storms, beaches, graffiti, adventures, food



JeanineExperienced the Hai Life:   November 2008 to 2011
Relationship to the Military:  Air Force spouse
Okinawa Favorites:  Chanpuru Ichiba farmer’s market, mango shakes from Su Su Soon, Toguchi beach and watching the sunset from my balcony.



MaryExperienced the Hai Life:   2008 to 2011
Relationship to the Military: USMC spouse
Okinawa Favorites:  Cocok’s Nail Salon, Captain Kangaroo Burger in Nago, Jusco Bakery, Mos Burger, Kokusai Street, Naha Tug of War, Fukushen Gardens


Heather GelormineHeather Gelormine
Okinawa Hai Co-Owner, Content Editor, Submissions Manager & Social Media Coordinator from 2009 to 2016

Experienced the Hai Life: 2008 to 2010
Relationship to the Military: Army spouse
Okinawa Favorites: Bios on the Hill, Southeast Botanical Gardens, Dragon Boat races, Kokusai Street, ramen, Coco Curry, Yoshihachi, Cocok’s pedicures, experiencing Okinawa vicariously by staying connected while operating Okinawa Hai for 7 years


LarissaExperienced the Hai Life: 2008 to 2011
Relationship to the Military:  USMC spouse
Okinawa Favorites:  Going out to eat is my favorite thing to do on Okinawa


JannineExperienced the Hai Life:  2000 to 2004 /2008 to present
Relationship to the Military:  USMC spouse
Okinawa Favorites:  So, so many…..exploring the many hidden gems on this island; hitting the beautiful beaches in the summer time; trying the various restaurants written about on Okinawa Hai; making friends with the locals; taking advantage of cultural opportunities; visiting the outer islands, etc.


DashaExperienced the Hai Life:   2008 to 2009
Relationship to the Military:  USMC spouse
Okinawa Favorites:  by far WWOOFing!


KandyExperienced the Hai Life:  2006 to 2009
Relationship to the Military:  Air Force spouse; former Active Duty Air Force
Okinawa Favorites:  The friendly and efficient customer service, big bats, vending machines on every corner and the beat of the Eisa drummers breaking through the weight of the humidity on those hot summer nights.


StaciExperienced the Hai Life:   2007 to 2009
Relationship to the Military:  Navy spouse
Okinawa Favorites:  My simple Okinawan life, Hirayasu Yochien (my son’s school), the colors in the ocean, living on the seawall, elderly people sweeping the front of their houses, cicadas, Family Mart, Lunch-Sets, and the genuineness of the Okinawan people.

Heather H

HeatherHExperienced the Hai Life:   2008 to 2011
Relationship to the Military:  USMC spouse
Okinawa Favorites:  I love the food!


Heather N

HeatherNExperienced the Hai Life:  2008 to 2012
Relationship to the Military:  Air Force spouse
Okinawa Favorites:  Learning the local customs, the cuisine – especially soba!



KimExperienced the Hai Life:  2007 to 2011
Relationship to the Military:  Navy spouse
Okinawa Favorites:  Watching my daughter become fluent in Japanese, the Japanese commitment to customer service, and the delicious food



Kelly-HeadshotExperienced the Hai Life:   2005 to 2009
Relationship to the Military:  Married to a DoD civilian
Okinawa Favorites:  Yomitan.  The ocean.  Mintama’s. Jakkepoes. Yomitan Monogatori. Okinawa pottery.  Sounds of eisa.  “Set” menus.  The green stick in your Starbucks cup to keep from spilling. Amazing, amazing people. Nail art.

Founder of KoreaYe.com


Joelle Yamada
Okinawa Hai Co-Owner, General Manager & Advertising Manager from 2009 to 2016

Experienced the Hai Life:   2007 to 2010
Relationship to the Military: Navy Spouse
Okinawa Favorites: Soba, CC Lemon, seeing the ocean every day, farmers markets & my Mamasan



JuliaExperienced the Hai Life:   2005 to 2008
Relationship to the Military: Navy Spouse
Okinawa Favorites:  Japanese culture and food, the friendliness of the Okinawan people, the parks and beaches; the noontime and evening melodies played over the loudspeakers off-base, the garbage truck song, and little boy urinals in the ladies’ bathrooms



DianaExperienced the Hai Life:   2006 to 2009
Relationship to the Military:  USMC spouse; former Active Duty Marine
Okinawa Favorites:  Enjoying the beautiful beaches with my family, the laid back lifestyle, and the kind-hearted locals. Of course, one cannot forget the scrumptious local cuisine!


2014 profile photo

Experienced the Hai Life:  2006 to 2008
Relationship to the Military:  married to a diplomat
Okinawa Favorites:  The beaches and the water.  Friends.  Laid back, easy life and warm climate.  Military gift shops.


Lan copyExperienced the Hai Life: 2005 to 2008
Relationship to the Military:  Navy spouse
Okinawa Favorites:  The incredible people & community, living by the sea, and the FOOD!


Meredith Novario – Okinawa Hai Founder

Meredith Novario

Experienced the Hai Life: 2005 to 2008; 2013 to 2015
Relationship to the Military: USMC spouse
Okinawa Favorites:  Any and all purple potato incarnations