About Time: You Got Active in Okinawa, JapanBy Angelica Malin
Nestled in the crystal clear waters of the Pacific, Okinawa is the home to a rich, historical and
diverse culture. Here’s the best things to do in Okinawa:
Take in Nuchigusui
To be honest, Okinawa’s natural wonders are just the beginning. With one of the world’s longest life expectancies, the islands’ inhabitants have unlocked the secret to longevity: Nuchigusui. This is life medicine – a way of life in Okinawa, focused on mindfulness, spirituality and physical wellbeing. Whether you’re into stargazing, yoga or karate, you’ll be spoilt in Okinawa.
Find yourself under the stars
When evening comes around on Ishigaki Island, you’ll be welcomed with a stunning sky untouched by light pollution. Expect the best star-bathing in Japan, with glittering vistas as far as the eye can see. Take some time to spot your favourite constellations and perhaps even the Milky Way. Why not join a star tour which takes you on an evening excursion from the southernmost tip of Japan? Located just off of Ishigaki Island, Taketomi Island is currently applying to become part of the International Dark-Sky Association, which would make Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park part of Japan’s first night sky preservation area.
Take a yoga class against a spectacular backdrop
Try something different and take up a SUP yoga class, which involves you practicing your best yoga moves on a stand-up paddle board in the middle of the ocean. If you’d prefer to stay on land, enjoy a sunrise yoga class outside the grounds of Katsuren Castle, one of Okinawa’s beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Rewind with meditation in nature
Relax in the great outdoors at Yambaru National Park, a lush green jungle ready to be explored. Another serene spot is Naha’s Shikinaen Royal Gardens, which was constructed back in the 18th century as a home for the Ryukyu kings and continues to stand as a beautiful space in the heart of Okinawa.
Relax on a deserted island
No trip is complete without a visit to the beach, and the beautiful waters at Hatenohama Beach, located near Kume Island. This uninhabited island is the perfect location for beach lovers looking to do everything from sunbathing to snorkelling. For those intrigued by a little more island-hopping, head on over to Kerama Shoto National Park where you can explore the stunning Kerama Islands. This area is made up of a cluster of 20 smaller islands not far from the main island of Okinawa. You can easily reach the islands via ferry from Naha, and travelling in between the smaller islands is quick and easy by boat.
Learn the art of karate
Did you know Okinawa is actually where karate originated? We love this activity in the city. While in Okinawa, try Okinawa Karate Kaikan where visitors interested in karate can learn and participate in the sport. The practice institution also houses an arena which holds matches for about 380 spectators as well as a training room.
Kayak through the ocean and nature
Located about an hour’s drive north of Naha, Nirai Beach is where to spend your day kayaking through turquoise blue waters alongside sandy shores. The ideal location for an excursion with the family, it offers calm waters that make it a great place for beginners to start their kayaking experience. Trek around long enough and you might spot some local sea creatures roaming around the area. For those looking for a wild adventure, head on over to Iriomote Island, a quick ferry ride from Ishigaki Island, where you can experience the ultimate kayak excursion: rowing through dense jungle foliage and beautiful waters.
Ride a horse on a beach
Want to do something different? Hop on a steed and follow a new path along the serene shores and through the waters of Okinawa for an unforgettable trekking experience. In particular, head on over to the Okinawa Horse Riding Club, located around the coast of Yomitan Village, for lessons or a guided trek through the area.
Go underwater diving
Free your mind in a world beneath the waves. Okinawa is a true diver’s paradise, offering the opportunity to explore tranquil waters and stretches of untouched coral reefs. In particular, the incredibly clear and beautiful seas around Miyako Island are a special destination often referred to as ‘Miyako Blue’. With an average annual temperature of 23°C, the climate on Miyako Island also happens to be quite pleasant and hospitable year round. Yonaguni Island, a remote island that sits just west of Ishigaki Island, also offers untouched waters where you can dive deep through underwater sea ruins.
Cycle through Okinawa’s great outdoors
Cycling is a great way to get around Okinawa, and outside the main city streets there are endless routes to guide you through the islands’ abundant nature. Whether you prefer mountains or the beach, there’s sure to be a cycling route to suit your needs. Serious cyclers may want to attempt a lap around the entire main island of Okinawa – which adds up to over 100km – but shorter trips are plentiful as well. Many of the smaller islands around Okinawa are also great for bikes, offering a convenient form of transportation instead of taking a bus or car. An easy route to start with might be the hour-long ride from Kencho-mae Station to Okinawa Hassha Okinogu on the main island of Okinawa, which boasts amazing views. Bike rentals are quite accessible and many rental outlets stock a variety of bikes for you to choose from.