Japan's tropical island paradise
White sand beaches and crystal blue waters, jungles and rare wildcats, centuries of unique native traditions, the birthplace of karate — this is Japan’s very own tropical island paradise.
Made up of several islands stretching from the southern tip of Kyushu towards Taiwan, Okinawa prefecture offers a remote yet accessible getaway that deserves Bora Bora-levels of holiday brochure stardom. It has some of the world’s best scuba diving, gorgeous hiking, acclaimed music and a distinct food culture centered around medicinal ingredients that sustains Japan’s longest-living citizens.
Okinawan people see themselves as distinct from the rest of Japan, and are known for their warmth and expressiveness. The vibe is laid back and friendly, and islands see record numbers of mainland Japanese visit every year for some much-needed rest and relaxation.
There are three major island groups: the main Okinawa Islands, the Miyako Islands and the Yaeyama Islands. Most visitors will arrive to Okinawa via Naha, the prefectural capital, which mainly functions as a transport hub and home away from home for the nearby U.S marine bases. The popular Kerama Islands are easily accessible as a day trip from Naha.
To access the Miyako and Yaeyama Islands you’ll need to fly but the extra journey out is worth the effort. The Miyako Islands, about 300 kilometers south of Okinawa main island, boast many of Japan’s best beaches, including Maehama, while Yaeyama’s incredible coral reefs are home to manta rays, hammerhead sharks and underwater ruins which make for some of the world’s best snorkeling and scuba diving.