Situated just south of mainland Japan, set within the Ryūkyū Shotō, lies the island of Okinawa. Spread across a lush, dense and refreshingly exotic landscape, this enticing destination offers all the pleasures of a tropical retreat unspoilt by hordes of tourists. This flourishing region is a real haven for travellers. With superb sites and attractions ranging from crystal clear oceans brimming with tropical fish to ancient Japanese monuments, a trip to Okinawa offers a little slice of paradise.
Okinawa is full of life under the warm glow of sunshine, and there's no better place to enjoy it than at one of the many stunning beaches. The beautiful Emerald Beach is perfect for both sunbathing and scuba diving, and if you want to discover what lies beneath the waves, the spectacular Churaumi Aquarium, where you can witness an incredible group of whale sharks, is only a short walk away. The Okinawa World Theme Park is also not to be missed, with attractions such as cave exploring and traditional Eisa performances, it's a great family day out.
A picturesque drive to Naha will reveal the Shurijo Castle, an ancient remnant of the Ryukyu Kingdom. This stunning palace and the surrounding gardens are an absolute must see, and the perfect daytime destination before retreating into a local restaurant to sample some traditional Japanese cuisine, such as pork, sushi or sweet potato cookies. Also, in the evening many bars and restaurants offer live music to enjoy whilst you eat.
When to fly to Okinawa
Thanks to its tropical climate, Okinawa has plenty of warm weather all year round. This makes it a pretty popular destination for most of the year, especially during the summer months (July to September). The heat can be pretty intense however, leading to wet weather conditions. The best months to visit are during Spring (March to early May), when the weather is lovely and the region is much quieter. Also, as this is during school term time, flights will usually be much cheaper.
Getting around Okinawa
Once in the city, you'll soon see that there are a number of buses in operation, departing from terminals around the island. Whilst very frequent, it can be complicated to work out a route. For absolute comfort and affordability, a car rental from inside the airport would be ideal, especially when heading to sites and attractions further out.