Over the summer I went to Okinawa to visit my sister, and I can easily say the wait was worth it. Okinawa was beautiful, ripe with culture, and just well worth the trip. So much so that I would easily recommend anyone who wants to travel overseas to add Okinawa to the list. With that, I’d like to help make your trip planning easier. I’ll be giving you the best that Okinawa has to offer whenever you decide to make your visit, and I’ll make it easier to plan your entire trip!
Firstly, before you even get to Okinawa, I would highly recommend flying with EVA air. I’ve traveled with a variety of Airlines and I can comfortably say EVA air is by far the best airline I’ve ever flown with. These people treat you right, no matter what section you’re flying in, they make you feel comfortable, and all in all their hospitality is by far the best. On top of it, we had to do a transfer flight from Taipei to Okinawa, and we got in with about 15 minutes to get to our gate, and they WAITED for us before even starting to board the plane to Okinawa. I’ve never heard of an Airline doing that for its passengers.
Now you’ve got the Airline picked out, now comes the actual packing portion. Firstly, Okinawa is an island, which means it’s hot and often humid, and a lot of activities are outdoor (mostly). Because of this, I highly recommend you pack a large assortment of summer clothing, particularly beachwear, short sleeves, and shorts, shoes can be whatever you wish. Now that isn’t to say you can’t bring Jeans, long sleeves and nice clothing, if anything I recommend that as well, but I would definitely try to bring more of the summer style clothing than the nighttime wear.
Now that you’re in Okinawa, you’ll need a place to stay. I personally stayed with my sister as she was there on Military assignment, but for those that don’t have family in Japan, there are places for you to stay. The main places I recommend are the hotels in American Village, they are in the heart of a popular tourist attraction and it’ll be familiar to western visitors.
Now it’s time to experience all that is Okinawa and believe me there is so much to do. The first place I would suggest you experience is the Ryukyu Glass Workshop. It a phenomenal experience where you can actually make your own glass cups. They also aren’t your typical just solid clear glasses either, these have intricate designs and vibrant colors that you can choose yourself. On top of that the staff helps you through the entire process so you can leave with the best possible creation. Once you finish that you do have to wait about 3 days for your glasses to be ready, but if you want some other glasses in addition to the ones you made, you are more than welcome to shop in the glass store. Its full of tons of jewelry, glasses, and glass decorations. I personally only chose cups, but they were worth every yen.
The next thing I recommend experiencing is definitely Shurijo castle. This is one of the most history riddled sites in all of Okinawa, and it’s ripe of ancient Japanese culture and full of gorgeous architecture. On the outside it may not look like much, and the paid entry may seem like it isn’t worth it at first, but once you start exploring the castle, it much bigger inside than on the outside. The castle itself is a marvel of ancient Japanese architecture, even with its numerous restorations, and the interior, while modernized a bit, still has that rich Japanese history tied to it. I could go on and on describing it, but it truly is something you need to see for yourself.
One of the last things I recommend is definitely snorkeling and seabed walking. This should be a no brainer since you’re vacationing on an island. The place I recommend going with for this activity is called blue ocean. They make things quick and efficient prior to the boat ride, they provide you with a wetsuit and all the other things you’ll need, and they guide you on your snorkeling excursion. With the sea walk its much of the same, but rather you’re actually able to walk the seabed and interact with the tropical fish in the area. It’s one of those things you just can’t pass up. There are many other great activities to do in Okinawa such as visiting Kokusai Dori, The Aquarium, touring around American Village, and even the Karaoke Bars, but I guarantee you won’t be bored once you arrive.
With all those activities, you’re bound to get hungry eventually, luckily, I know some of the best food Okinawa has to offer. Okinawa has your typical Japanese food like ramen and sushi, so if that’s something you want to experience, for sushi I’d recommend this place called Sushi Zen. Its run by a local who lived in the US for many years before returning to Okinawa. The atmosphere is fantastic, and you experience authentic Japanese sushi. With ramen, I ate at a variety of places that served ramen, so it’s really dealers’ choice. I promise it won’t matter though, as each Ramen shop had great food every time. If you’re feeling as if you want some western style food that isn’t McDonalds, look no further than Café Orleans. Run by a retired Marine, it brings Cajun food right to Okinawa and the atmosphere is beyond the word homey. You’ll also most likely be able to run into the owner, whether he is cooking your food, making your drinks, or even just making conversation with you and making sure your experience is a good one. Another restaurant similar to that but is instead run by a local is this Thai restaurant called Thaicoon. It’s a kind of buffet run in what looks to be a remodeled house, but the food is homecooked, brought out regularly so there’s never a shortage, and just amazing. Let’s say you want something a little fancier though, well Seaside Ristorante is your forte. This restaurant is primarily surf and turf but it’s without a doubt the best surf and turf I’ve ever had. On top of that the view of the ocean from outside is just spectacular. Once you’ve had all that though, you’ll probably want something sweet, if that’s the case, then I’d give Blue Seal Ice Cream a try. Blue Seal is a local Ice Cream company and its definitely worth the try. They have flavors you’ve never heard of but each one is delicious. Me and my family made it a goal to each get different flavors and try them all. All in all, there is so much to eat in Okinawa that you’ll want to try it all.
I hope this makes planning your trip to Okinawa much easier. It was definitely an experience I won’t forget, and I guarantee I’ll be back in japan soon enough. Who knows, maybe after your visit, you’ll have the same sentiments as I do.
Story written by Anthony Rodriguez, Creative Media for Campus Live.
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