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Life is a little slower in the Okinawa prefecture, where the beaches are impossibly blue and the island offers something for everyone, from outdoor enthusiasts to foodies and everything in between. Scuba divers especially love the Okinawa area and Southwest Islands for its vibrant coral ecosystem and incredible limestone formations.
No Asia cruise would be complete without a stop in Okinawa, which has a long history of U.S. armed forces living on the island. Your Okinawa, Japan cruise ship will dock in Naha, the capital city of the Okinawa prefecture. In Naha, you’ll find a fascinating mix of Shinto shrines and landmarks dating back to the 14th century, like Shurijo Castle and the traditional Shikinaen Garden. Or, take an afternoon excursion to the former Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters, which is perfectly preserved as it was last left, before enjoying a reflective walk along the Okinawa Peace Park.
What better way to make yourself at home on a cruise to Okinawa, Japan than by exploring its arts and history? The Okinawa Prefectural Museum and Art Museum should be the first sightseeing stop for art and culture lovers to see the region’s best contemporary art and exhibits dedicated to the history of the city.
This dramatic UNESCO World Heritage site is the tomb of a king dating back to 1501. Take in the splendor of the mausoleum, carved into and built on a hill in Okinawa, which is truly fitting for a king.
Take a guided tour of this stunning valley before heading to the nearby Okinawa World on your Okinawa, Japan cruise. It’s a forest that grew with the collapse of a limestone cave. If you’re looking for nature unlike anywhere else in the world, Okinawa has it.
Tour another incredible UNESCO World Heritage site at Shikina-en Garden. It’s a former royal villa where a traditional Japanese garden still blooms beautifully. Nature lovers and gardening enthusiasts will appreciate Okinawa’s dedication to natural beauty.
On your Okinawa, Japan cruise, you and the entire family will love this huge aquarium. The largest aquarium tank in the entire world is here, plus hundreds of species of tropical fish, coral, manta rays, and more.
Okinawa’s coast is incredible, and there’s no better way to see it than underwater. You’ll discover the unique caves and structures that draw thousands of scuba divers to Okinawa every year.
Okinawa World is a quirky theme park destination showcasing the city’s unique qualities, including a reproduction of a typical village and traditional dance performances. While you’re there, check out the massive, somewhat spooky cave called Gyokusendo. It’s one of the longest limestone caves in Asia.
Foodies have to check out Makishi Public Market, a shopping area dedicated entirely to the freshest seafood and fruits in all of Okinawa. Live like a local and stroll through the market on the way to dinner and interact with the shopkeepers as you go.
Whether you’re shopping for the fresh catch of the day at Makishi Public Market or exploring Okinawa’s top-rated eateries, you’ll find that the highest quality sushi, sashimi, and traditional Japanese dishes rule the day in Okinawa. Freshness is the key quality of all the food here, especially at the tropical fruit shops that sell passionfruit and mango. After all, the cuisine here just might help you live longer, if you believe local legend.
The island of Okinawa has linked Japanese trade with China, Korea, and the West throughout history, and the port town of Naha has built itself up around the tourism and trade industries along the way. One interesting fact about the people of Okinawa is their life spans. They live, on average, longer than people living in any other part of the world, possibly due to their fresh, rich diet which is high in seafood and Omega-3. As a result, Okinawa and the Southwest Islands have fascinated cultural anthropologists for years.
When your cruise to Okinawa, Japan docks at the Naha pier, you can hop on the free wifi, get your bearings, grab some cash from the nearby ATM, or ask for help or recommendations at the tourism information desk. From there, the options to explore Okinawa are endless. .
It’s about a five to ten-minute taxi ride from the cruise port to the center of Naha, and it’s relatively easy to hail a cab from the cruise terminal. There’s also a monorail from Kenchomae Station which is a short walk from the pier. When cruise ships come into port, there tend to be free shuttles to downtown Okinawa.
The better shopping in the Naha and Okinawa area isn’t immediately near the cruise pier. You’ll have a more opportunities for shopping if you hop on the shuttle bus to Kokusaidori. It’s also only a 10-minute walk from the pier. Shopping, cafes, bars, and restaurants are concentrated along a mile-long drag called International Road. Enjoy clothing from the boutiques or take a leisurely tea break when you get tired of shopping.
Tipping isn’t customary in Japan, particularly tipping your tour guide, taxi driver, or restaurant waitstaff. Best practice is to ask if the person who is serving you is comfortable with receiving a tip, but even then, it’s uncommon in Japan. The official Japanese currency is the yen, and the best way to get around financially in Japan is to take out cash rather than rely on a credit card. Many credit cards aren’t accepted here, and cash is still king in Japanese culture.