Japan’s southernmost prefecture in the East China Sea has emerged as an alluring destination where tropical beauty meets engaging culture. Here are just a few reasons why we’re falling in love with the islands of Okinawa.
You’re Never Far From the Ocean
Just a short drive north from the capital city of Naha brings you to Ginowan Tropical Beach and Park, a stretch of white sand framed by blue sea. Join locals spending the whole day at the beach, where calm waters are ideal for swimming and snorkeling. Even within Naha, you can take a break from sightseeing with a dip in the waters of Naminoue Beach, followed by a detour to the nearby Naminoue Shrine.
There Are Nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites
One of your first stops should be the illustrious Shurijo Castle, one of the most beautifully restored remnants of the Ryukyu Kingdom that ruled Okinawa from the 15th to the 19th centuries. Be sure to take a moment to admire the Sonohyan-utaki Ishimon, the stone gate leading to the shrine that’s also been listed as a UNESCO treasure.
The Food, Naturally
The Okinawan diet is believed to contribute to a long, healthful life. In fact, locals use the phrase “nuchi gusui” — which translates to “life medicine” — to define their cuisine. A light hand is used with salt in signature dishes like pork stew, which is often accompanied by Okinawan soba noodles. The waters around these islands are abundant with seafood, and when you experience fresh bluefin or bigeye tuna it will be clear that this bite has come from nearby seas and never been frozen.
It’s the Birthplace of Karate!
Every “Karate Kid” fan will remember Mr. Miyagi’s history lesson on the origins of karate, but it’s even better to gain firsthand insight. This form of martial arts traveled through Asia by way of Okinawan trade routes, and experts can illustrate the differences between Okinawan and Japanese karate. Pay a visit to a local dojo, and take time to explore the Karate Museum in Nishihara — which is also a working dojo led by Sensei Tetsuhiro Hokama.
Because You Have to Experience a Bon Festival
Every summer, as the Bon Festival draws near, you’ll hear the thunder of taiko drums as locals practice for the three-day celebration. Drawing inspiration from Buddhist and Confucian roots, this Japanese tradition honors ancestral spirits, and people flood the streets to see the uniquely Okinawan Eisa dance. Watch in awe as dancers clad in colorful summer kimonos (yukata) perform to traditional music played on taiko drums and stringed sanshin. Okinawa is truly a destination unlike any other, and we’re here to connect all the dots so you can enjoy a complete experience in this storied land.
CHARMS OF OKINAWA: NAHA CITY
Avanti Destinations – Independent Vacation
Uncover the charms of this subtropical island chain, highlighted by visits to UNESCO-listed Shurijo Castle and the colorful underwater reefs located just off the coastline.
VACATION INCLUDES: Standard accommodations; breakfast daily; private Naha City highlights tour; remote island snorkeling tour; evening Okinawan cuisine tour; private arrival and departure transfers.
5 NIGHTS from $2269
Select travel dates through 12/30/19
Prices are per person in U.S. dollars, land only, based on double occupancy, subject to availability and change without notice and are not guaranteed until paid in full. Prices and amenities may vary by category and travel date. International airfare is additional. Additional fees, restrictions, terms
Photo: Okinawa, Japan at historic Shuri Castle. © Can Stock Photo / SeanPavonePhoto