Where to Go: Okinawa, Japan

The top reasons why you should visit and when

from the travel experts at Fodors.com
japan image
Miyako Island, Okinawa, Japan
Photograph: Shutterstock.com

Overview You'll swear you've hit an entirely different country: let the tropical climate get you ready for sun-kissed beaches and crystal blue waters, deserted islands ringed by rainbow-hued coral reefs, verdant jungle trails leading to ancient time-frozen hamlets, and funky port-towns full of laid-back, fun-loving islanders: it's all here welcoming you to Okinawa, Japan's most unique and exciting destination.

Reasons to Go
Hit the Waves: Surfers and diving pros will argue about which beaches are the best, but virtually anywhere you go in Okinawa you'll find sparkling sand, clear water, and a lot of time for R&R.

Secret History: Moving memorials tell a captivating story of the chaos that ravaged this idyllic landscape during World War II's fierce final battle.

Getting Wild: Snorkeling, diving, trekking, sailing, fishing, whale-watching, and kayaking are in your reach in Japan's most pristine and enticing natural vistas.

Local Flavors: Okinawa's food, music, art, and local spirit combine powerful influences from all over Asia and funky homegrown flavors.

Dazzling Reefs: Cresting an underwater ridgeback that divides some of the globe's deepest currents, Okinawa's abundant reefs are home to varied marine life thriving in clear, warm seas.

When to Go
Okinawa enjoys winters most folks dream about but temperatures can be extreme in summer months. Waters are warm and swimmable year-round, but you probably want to come between October and March during the off-season. Thanks to mainland Japan's fairly inflexible vacation system, prices drop and crowds thin out just when the weather turns ideal. The exception is whale-watching season in February, when tourists will make the hustle from Tokyo to Okinawa's Miyako Islands in order to see the spectacle. Try to avoid the rainy season, late May to early July. Arriving to Okinawa in August you'll be mocked by locals for not having gone to Hokkaido instead.

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Photo courtesy of  tororo reaction/Shutterstock.com

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