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While Hokkaido is Japan’s winter wonderland, Okinawa, its most southern island, is its semitropical paradise where sun-kissed beaches, crystal-blue waters and relaxed port towns full of laid-back islanders collide into a vividly different setting from the rest of the country. Geographically closer to Taiwan than any of Japan’s main islands, Okinawa has always stride along with an independent heart with an indigenous population distinct from the mainland Japanese race, and its bygone but proud Ryukyu Kingdom reflecting centuries of multiculturalism from ancient trades with ancient Polynesia and the rest of Asia. With a never-ending supply of fun to be had with its wild islands and remote nature, and a unique cuisine marinated with a fascinating fusion of flavours, Okinawa is set to welcome the intrepid traveller who is not afraid to cast away their maps and venture into its bubbling melting pot of offbeat Japanese experiences.

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Hit the water

Okinawa is a prefecture comprising more than 150 islands straddling in the East China Sea and this can only mean one thing for the adventurous traveller - plenty of fun to be had in the water. With stunning breaches and warm weather almost all year round, one would find it hard to resist the siren of the ocean. For an introductory crash course suitable for all ages, we suggest hopping aboard a glass-bottomed boat, cruise along its coral-fringed islands and marvel in awe at the vibrant hues of its underwater world, and then meet face to face with a impossibly cute local native through an entertaining dolphin show performance.

Oishi Okinawa

The food of Okinawa differs significantly from Japanese cuisine due to the islands’ intermingling of culture with China, South East Asia and the United States. Also known as Ryukyuan cuisine, digging into such a meal you will quickly come to realise its distinct influences and culture the cuisine derives from. Popular and representative dishes include champuru, a stir fry vegetable-meat medley usually containing tofu, eggs, pork or spam, Okinawa soba, a distinct variety made of wheat rather than the typical buckwheat, and taco rice, a bowl of ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes and salsa, an obvious culinary result of the American presence in Okinawa.

City and Coast

Nothing makes more sense than staying in an oceanfront resort when in Okinawa, after all that’s where all the action is when it comes to the islands’ famed offering of sun, sand and sea, but the prefecture is also home to cool cities that pulse with a unique beat filled with outlet shops, quirky bars and offbeat restaurants. So why not enjoy the best of both worlds with a two-night stay near the coast for an intimate encounter with the ocean and a three/four-night stay in Naha, its capital, for a city escape. This way, we make sure you don’t lose out on the best that Okinawa can offer.