Trips to Japan often include a stay in Tokyo to experience the bustling metropolitan city life or a visit to Kyoto, where the country’s rich history mixes with modern-day life. But for those who want to get away from the busy crowds and take time off at the beach, people turn to Okinawa for a sunny getaway. With this area known for its beautiful scenery and nature, Okinawa never runs out of surprises.
Upon arriving at Naha Airport on the main island of Okinawa, visitors are given a glimpse of the beautiful blue ocean surrounding the area. Beaches and cliff sides offer great vantage points for those who love to take photos and offer a great sight for people who enjoy exploring nature.
Okinawa is also home to one of the largest aquariums in the world: Churaumi Aquarium located in the Ocean Expo Park. Along with local ocean life on display in the numerous tanks, visitors can also watch dolphin shows outside the aquarium. Ocean Expo Park is also home to a few museums showcasing Okinawan culture, a model Okinawan village, and an arboretum that is open to the public.
Another area with plenty of activities offered is American Village located in Chatan. Visitors looking to relax for a bit can enjoy the many restaurants, cafes, and shops within the Americana-themed park. There is also a cinema and ferris wheel for those who want to enjoy a movie or take a bird’s eye view of Okinawa.
For those who love crafting and want to experience what handicrafts and trades Okinawa has to offer, visitors can spend a day at Okinawa World where a variety of Okinawa’s craft activities such as weaving and ceramic painting are available to try hands-on.
With its picturesque beaches and fresh air, Okinawa offers a lot of opportunities for outdoor lovers and adventurers. Runners should remember to pack running shoes as there are many running paths available all over the islands of Okinawa. These paths offer a great chance to view the ocean and take in the sea breeze while enjoying a long run.
Others may choose to explore by hopping on a bike—and no need to worry about bringing your own; there are many bike rentals available! But of course one major highlight for sports lovers is the variety of water sports to try in Okinawa. From scuba diving to parasailing, surfing to jet skiing, there are numerous ways to experience the sea. Plus you can always enjoy the ocean by simply taking a quick dip in the water.
Like many of Japan’s prefectures, Okinawa has its own cuisine which provides a great deal of unique flavor. But due to the distance between Okinawa and the rest of Japan, the food is actually quite different from what you’d taste around the country!
One of Okinawa’s most famous foods is goya, also known as bitter melon. The most common dish featuring this bitter vegetable is goya chanpuru which is an Okinawan-style stir fry made with bitter melon and eggs with other ingredients mixed in.
Take note that Okinawa’s food is also quite famous for using pork. Another dish to try is Okinawa soba. Despite its name, the dish doesn’t use the famous buckwheat noodles that most people associate with soba. The dish itself uses a variety of flavors from around Okinawa: pork, seafood, and even awamori, a local rice liquor.
Despite its distance and size compared to the rest of Japan, Okinawa offers many unique and fun experiences to visitors. Be sure to explore as much as possible by land or by sea even for just a day!
*Featured image sourced from Fotolia