Just under three hours in the air from Tokyo, a chain of subtropical islands known as Okinawa lives at its own pace. Japan's most southerly region is home to unspoilt coral reefs and sandy beaches as well as a unique food and drink scene. However, what really sets it apart is its smiley, laid-back inhabitants.

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  1. Bicycle rental is available at almost every hotel.
  2. Explore. Jump on a boat or plane and hop among the 150 islands scattered across a 560km expanse of sea.
  3. Eat a pineapple. Okinawa is home to hundreds of farms dedicated to the art of producing the perfect pineapple.
  4. Become a black belt. The islands are the birthplace of ‘te’, a traditional martial art that evolved into karate.
  5. Dip beneath the surface. Parrotfish, barracudas and mantarays can be found in its clear blue waters, not to mention the odd Second World War shipwreck.

Two-hour tour

  • Makishi Market — This market is the heart and soul of the Okinawa food scene. More than 100 family-run stores sell colourful food, fruit and Agu pork. Buy your ingredients on the ground floor and take them upstairs where they will be cooked for you.

    2-10-1 Matsuo, Naha City

    +81 (0)988 676 560

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  • Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium — Explore amazing marine life. The highlight is a huge glass tank that is home to a whale shark. The aquarium is a great indoor escape when the weather’s not helping.

    424 Ishikawa, Motobu, Kunigami-gun

    +81 (0)980 483 748

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  • Shurijo Castle — Okinawa was once a kingdom of its own, before being annexed by Japan. This castle represents Okinawa’s unique cultural and architectural heritage with a mix of influences from China and Southeast Asia.

    1-2 Syurikinjo-cho, Naha City

    +81 (0)988 862 020

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  • Independent and easy

    Okinawa Daiichi Hotel

    1-1-12 Makishi, Naha City

    +81 (0)988 673 116

  • Dependable chain

    The Naha Terrace

    2-14-1 Omoromohi, Naha City

    +81 (0)988 641 111

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  • Premium

    The Ritz-Carlton Okinawa

    1343-1 Kise, Nago City

    +81 (0)980 435 555

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  • Fast breakfast

    Goya Tempuraya

    2-11-1 Matsuya, Naha City

    +81 (0)988 688 782

  • Mid-morning coffee

    Okinawa Cerrado Coffee

    28, 2-15-6 Minatogawa, Urasoe City

    +81 (0)988 750 123

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  • Lunch with friends

    Café Curcuma

    1190 Chinenchinen, Nanjo City

    +81 (0)989 491 189

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  • Dinner with friends


    1-37 Shuriakata-cho, Naha City

    +81 (0)988 845 543

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  • Late drinks

    Bekkan Celluloid

    2F, 3-8-25 Makishi, Naha City

    +81 (0)988 624 969

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  • Afternoon tea


    367 Zakimi,Yomitanson, Nakagami gun

    +81 (0)989 583 239

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  • Leisurely breakfast


    1-20-2 Kakazu, Ginowan City

    +81 (0)988 981 529

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  • Bookshop


    4-2-8 Omoromachi, Naha City

    +81 (0)988 601 316

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  • Lost luggage - where to buy shirts

    Ryubo Department Store

    1-1-1 Kumoji, Naha City

    +81 (0)988 671 171

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  • Something you can't get anywhere else

    Tsuboya Pottery Village — Potters have been making ceramics in Tsuboya – a photogenic district of Naha – since the days of the Ryukyu Kingdom. Come here to buy rustic dishes and the terracotta shisa lions that stand guard at the front of Okinawan homes.

    1-9-32 Tsuboya, Naha City

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  • Something for someone you love

    Traditional ceramics from D&Department Okinawa

    2-39-8 Aragusuku, Ginowan City

    +81 (0)988 942 112

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  • Something for yourself

    Traditional "bingata" textiles - and try coral dying some fabrics yourself - at Shuri-Ryusen

    1-54 Shuriyamakawa-cho, Naha City

    +81 (0)988 861 131

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  • The Churashima ticket — Japan Transocean Air and its subsidiary, Ryukyu Air Commuter, operate flights between islands from Naha and Ishigaki. Alternatively, charter a plane or helicopter. Ferries run regularly Ishigaki to other remote islands such as Taketomi island.

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  • Car Rental

    ToCoo! — Cars can be collected at several locations in Okinawa, including Naha Airport.

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  • Karate

    Okinawan Prefectural Budokan — Head to the Okinawan Prefectural Budokan, three floors of martial arts training rooms set in a park that are open to visitors.

    Ounoyama Koen, 52 Ounoyama-cho, Naha City

    +81 (0)988 582 700

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