After mulling this over for a while, I've finally gotten around to writing what I consider to be the top ten reasons to visit Okinawa. Since arriving on this tiny subtropical island, I've fallen quite in love with the wide variety of actives and experiences that Okinawa offers. Whether you're into lazily vacationing on the beach, indulging in fine Japanese cuisine, singing karaoke until the wee hours of the morning, or river trekking to jungle waterfalls-there's an Okinawa trip for you. If you're my family member or friend: please visit us! If you've just happened to stumble onto this page: definitely put Oki on your travel bucket list! If you're a military family: Okinawa should absolutely be on your PCS wish list! Regardless of who you are, Okinawa is absolutely worth the long haul flight and hopefully these ten reasons will convince you to come and experience this remarkable island.
2. Easy Access to Other Cities
While you're visiting Okinawa to get your nice fat bowl of ramen, why not jump over to Tokyo or Taipei for the weekend while you’re at it? Roundtrip tickets average around only $100, so hopping from city to city is a no brainer especially if your travel bucket list includes more than one East Asian city. Flights from the United States to Asia are super expensive, so it's very cost effective to do any additional travelling in this part of the world while you're already over here.
Did you know that Okinawa is home to over five castles? Some, like Gushikawa castle, are in complete ruins but others, like Shuri castle, have been elaborately restored to their former glory. Since we are devoid of any castles in America, having access to plenty of historic castles, many of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, is an incredible opportunity.
5. World War II History
6. The Military Presence
If you aren’t in the military or live near a military base, it’s actually quite interesting being on a military installation. Ben and I live on Camp Foster which is situated between both a Marine Aviation and an Air Force air base so we frequently get to see fighter jets and Ospreys whooshing above our heads. I'd compare it to being at the air show every single day. Also, when you’re on base you get to see all kinds of unusual things (for the civilian world) like Humvees driving down the road and giant packs of camo wearing marines walking in formation. I used to nearly crash my car when I’d see something cool like artillery that was set up right by my work Although I’m now much more used to this lifestyle and no longer a threat on the road, I still find life on Camp Foster quite interesting. Getting the opportunity to see some of the many military installations on Okinawa, especially if you aren't military, is definitely a unique experience.
I’ll be the first to admit that most cafes on Okinawa serve up really spectacular looking drinks and food that unfortunately taste pretty average at best. However, cafes are on my list because Okinawa is obsessed with making the ambiance in their cafes as cute and fun as humanly possible. From hammock cafes (there are several) to teepee cafes, beach side to mountain top, tree house to private bungalow, cat cafes to aquarium cafes, there’s something for everyone. Not to mention, the number of insanely adorable cafes surely outnumbers the number of people here, right? It at least seems that way! I could probably go to a café every Saturday for my last year and a half on island and still have only seen a fraction of them.
10. The Locals
One of the most underrated, overlooked aspects about Okinawa are its people. Politeness and hospitality must be the pillar of education for Okinawans because they are the nicest, most respectful people I’ve ever encountered. If you visit Okinawa, you will absolutely notice how warm and friendly everyone, from taxi drivers to McDonalds cashiers, are. It’s impossible to not feel at ease when everyone around you is behaving with incredible decorum.
If there's anything I missed, please let me know!
We're Kara, Ben and baby Zoe also known as the Lesniaks. We’re a Marine Corps family currently stationed in Yorktown, Virginia after a three year tour in Okinawa, Japan. Enjoy our adventures, travels, photos, thoughts, and life together!
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