OKINAWA

JAPAN’S VERY OWN HAWAII

Okinawa, often referred to as “the Hawaii of Japan” consists of 150 islands and is the southernmost prefecture of Japan. We had been dreaming of visiting since we first started dating! Not because it looks like a honeymoon destination with its tropical climate and countless idyllic beaches but because we share an interest in sea life and Okinawa has one of the biggest aquariums in the world (geeky much?).

We thought that it would remain just a dream because it was super expensive to travel to from mainland Japan. The airfare was nearly the same price as it cost from London to Japan! But thank God for low budget airlines, which recently started flying there.

There are so many beautiful islands to visit in Okinawa but we stuck on the mainland as we only visited for a few days. We did plan on day tripping nearby islands Tokashiki and Zamimi ( type in google images to see how stunning!) but unfortunately the weather meant ferries were cancelled on the days we went. This did in no way get us down as there are plenty of things to do on the main island as you can see below. We both agree that we will definitely return in the future to explore the other islands and maybe do more of an adventurous trip including all kinds of water sports.

 

Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium

Located north of the island, it took us just over 2hours on the express bus from Naha to get here. We got the earliest bus we could to arrive as soon as the aquarium opened but it was already swarming with crowds. The aquarium is in Ocean Expo Park which is huge and has a beach and the most amazing ocean views. Honestly we were a wee bit disappointed with the aquarium itself. We had spent years looking forward to seeing the main attraction which is the whale shark tank and it was a little underwhelming. Maybe it was the 100s of pushy people trying to take group photos making viewing a little difficult or maybe we did that annoying thing where you build it up in your mind so much that it could never live up to it. Or maybe its because we visited Osaka aquarium which was amazing and  had a fantastic whale shark tank. Anywhoos the highlight for us was the dolphin show and the views. Just look at the escalator view!

 

 

 

Manza- Mae Beach (ANA intercontinental)

A 3hour bus ride from Naha but well worth it. After we were told the ferries had been cancelled we went back to our hotel and researched the best beaches on the main island. There are lots to choose from but we chose here to explore and we’re so glad we did as we found a beautiful beach all to ourselves! This is located right next to the hotels beach but for whatever reason it was secluded. There was a shop nearby where we bought snacks and Okinawas famous blue seal ice cream (and they were kind enough to let us blow up our ring float). We saw a few fish including little Dories, but not many so don’t recommend for snorkelers. It was truly relaxing and romantic, perfect honeymooning spot.

 

 

 

 

 

Shuri Castle

Of course we had to visit this re-built palace from the 14th century Ryukyu Kingdom. We were surprised to discover its the only castle that has been fully restored in Okinawa! In the battle of Okinawa in 1945 it was nearly all destroyed. It isn’t the most impressive castle we’ve seen and inside there was hardly any information in english but still one of those places you gotta see because you’re here. What is interesting and which we noticed as soon as we arrived in Okinawa was the infusion of both Japanese and Chinese architecture everywhere and even in the food.

 

 

 

Kokusai~dori – International Street

The main shopping place in Naha, lined with souvenir, flip flop and our favourite.. ice cream stores. We can not recommend trying Beni-imo (sweet potato) ice cream from Blue seal enough. It is simply delicious. You will notice lots of sweet potato food options when in Japan. There are speculations that this is the secret to long life, since Japanese people live the longest in the world. So we took note of that and happily indulged with the ice cream! also it was a life saviour as the heat was so intense for us Londoners.

There are so many other things to do in Okinawa and like I mentioned we do plan on returning so do research and put it on your travel bucket-list!

J

xx

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