With exciting watersports and beautiful natural scenery, Okinawa is an alluring tropical paradise with a fascinating past. Unwind on white-sand beaches, watch whale sharks feeding at the aquarium and visit the historic castle that was home of Okinawa’s former rulers.
Okinawa is the main island of the Okinawa Prefecture, an archipelago of 160 islands south of mainland Japan. Naha is the capital of the islands and the main entry point to Okinawa. Shop, eat and drink along Kokusai-Dori, Naha’s main street. Try some Okinawan soba, a local dish of wheat noodles served in hot soup.
Visit Shuri Castle, a restored ancient fortress that sits on a hill above Naha. A 40-minute drive south of Naha is Peace Memorial Park, a tribute to the quarter of a million American and Japanese civilians and soldiers who died on the island in one of World War II’s fiercest battles.
Learn about Okinawa’s marine life at Ocean Expo Park, on the northern part of the island. See whale sharks and tropical fish at Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, which houses one of the world’s largest fish tanks. This national park also has a re-creation of a 17th-century Okinawan village and a botanical garden with more than 2,000 orchids.
Okinawa has miles of stunning beaches that you can enjoy for most of the year, with swimming possible from April until October. Try scuba diving at Mission Beach or climb to the top of the lighthouse at Cape Zanpa.
The island offers many other attractions away from the beach. Hike through forest to the Hiji Waterfall and travel through the pineapple fields of Nago Pineapple Park. Explore streams and rock formations inside Gyokusendo Cave, one of Japan’s largest cave systems.
Reach Okinawa by flying into Naha Airport from Japan or China, and get around by bus, or rent a car or moped. Whether you want to relax on the beach or explore historic sites and marine life, Okinawa is an irresistible vacation destination.