Okinawa is made up of 160 islands in the East China Sea and is full of amazing destinations for couples to enjoy. The remote islands that can be easily reached by car or boat from the main island of Okinawa provide a treasure trove of natural beaches where two people can spend their time quietly. Diving and snorkelling are great ways to immerse yourself in the ocean world of Okinawa, with its colourful coral and tropical fish. And make sure you check out the unique, stylish cultural elements of Okinawan craft, including Ryukyu glass and Yachimun pottery. At lunchtime have a picnic on a white sandy beach or a remote island, and at night enjoy a delicious, soulful barbecue. Join us as we look at some of the highlights of Okinawa recommended for couples, including walks around historic sites that bring to life the history of the Ryukyu Kingdom, horse riding on a natural beach, private glamping, and spectacular beach sunsets.

    1

    Diving at Aka Island

    Diving is the best way to fully immerse yourself (pun intended) in the sea of Okinawa. And diving into the beautiful waters around the Kerama Islands is even better when you're diving with someone else. One of the best diving spots in Okinawa is the area around Aka Island, which can be reached in just 50 minutes by high-speed boat from Tomari Port in Naha on the main island of Okinawa. With tropical fish such as the golden damselfish and the blotched hawkfish swim around between the fiery red isobana coral, and the sight of green turtles swimming gracefully, the underwater scenery is like a palace at the bottom of the sea. If this is your first time diving, try a guided diving tour. Rest assured that the staff will support you all the way through, right from the installation of the equipment, and will take you to the perfect spot.

    Location: Aka, Zamami Village, Shimajiri District, Okinawa Prefecture 901-3311, Japan

    Open: Hours vary by tour company

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    2

    Horse riding at Hyakuna Beach

    Take a ride on the sandy beaches of Okinawa on a Yonaguni horse native to Yonaguni Island in the westernmost part of Japan. The Yonaguni horse is a gentle animal with a small body and strong legs. It's a good idea to start getting to know your horse by stroking and calling out to it. After you've mounted the horse, you'll practice the signal to move forward and stop while the horse is pulled along by the instructor. Now you're ready to take a trot on the glittering white sandy beach and the shallow waters of Hyakuna Beach, gently swayed by the sea breeze. In summer, your horse might even like to go into the sea. Actually, the Yonaguni horse is very happy to play in the water, so you can dive into the sea while riding, swim while holding onto its tail, or leap into the sea from the back of your horse.

    Location: 290 Oyakebaru Tamagusuku, Nanjo City, Okinawa Prefecture 901-1400, Japan

    Open: Hours vary by course

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    photo by Jorn van Maanen (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    3

    Tour of workshops at Yachimun no Sato

    With its simple texture, Okinawa's Yachimun pottery is perfect for everyday use. In the pottery village of Yomitan, you'll find more than a dozen Yachimun workshops in an area called Yachimun no Sato. Different potters produce pieces at each workshop, and there are galleries to browse at several kilns. You'll also find 2 cooperative stores here: the North Kiln Shop and the Yomitanyama Kiln Co-op. Each artist's unique works are on display, including pieces with traditional arabesque and dot painting, others with fine line-engraved patterns, and still others with a focus on Okinawan clay and enamel. These pieces arrives in various forms such as coffee cups, teacups, teacups, plates, and vases. Really any Yachimun piece will make a great souvenir that you can actually use and enjoy when you get back home.

    Location: 2653-1 Zakimi, Yomitan Village, Okinawa Prefecture 904-0301, Japan

    Open: The shop is open from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm

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    4

    Snorkelling in the Blue Cave

    Take a boat from Cape Maeda in Onna Village and head for Okinawa's premier snorkelling spot: Blue Cave. The tunnel-shaped Blue Cave is an opening in the rock face of the cape, a special place that can only be entered by snorkelling or diving. The sun shines into the cave, creating a mysterious world full of blue light. After putting on your snorkel and taking a lecture on how to swim, you can enter the cave and enjoy the deep blue space to your heart's content. Don't forget to take a commemorative photo as you hold your hands together to form a heart shape. Outside the cave, the option to feed the clownfish is also popular. If you're travelling as a couple, you might prefer to take a private tour limited to one group.

    Location: Yomitan Village, Nakagami District, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan

    Open: Hours vary by tour company

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    5

    Visiting the mystical locations of Hamahiga Island

    Hamahiga Island, which has been protected as an "island where gods live" since ancient times, is dotted with mysterious locations that seem to flow with mystical energy. You can access Hamahiga Island by driving across the bridge from the main island of Okinawa, making this island sanctuary ideal for a day trip. Shirumichu is the home of the gods Amami Kiyo and Shinerikiyo, who are said to have created Ryukyu. Here you'll find a limestone cave located at the end of a long staircase. At this site you're supposed to pray for children. Next, head to Amamichu, the grave of the two gods. Walk across to the small rocky island where the tomb is located and pray for a good harvest and good health. On the way to these mystical locations, you really get the sense of being on a remote island by stopping at an untouched sandy beach or having lunch at a local restaurant.

    Location: Katsurenhama, Uruma City, Okinawa Prefecture 904-2315, Japan

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    photo by Kugel~commonswiki (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    6

    Nakagusuku Castle Ruins World Heritage Site

    The Nakagusuku Castle Ruins form a World Heritage Site that is among Japan's 100 Famous Castles and tell the history of the Ryukyu Kingdom. Visiting this famously impregnable castle is a great way to soak up the history of Okinawa. There are many original features perfectly maintained, including the beautiful back gate praised by Commodore Perry for its elegant archway, a well that shows how water was secured within the castle grounds, and the Nishi no Kurowa area where troops were trained. With its beautiful curved stone walls, Ni no Kurowa is yet another highlight. The hilltop castle ruins are scenic spots overlooking the Pacific Ocean to the east, the East China Sea to the west, Yomitan to the north, and the Chinen Peninsula to the south. Here you can enjoy panoramic views while strolling through historic sites out in the open.

    Location: 1258, Nakagusuku-mura, Nakagami-gun, Okinawa Prefecture 901-2402, Japan

    Open: October—April: daily from 8.30 am to 5 pm. May—September: daily from 8.30 am to 6 pm

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    photo by 663highland (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    7

    Ryukyu glass production

    Ryukyu glass is an Okinawan craft that features a thick and simple design with air bubbles inserted. Ryukyu glass workshops can be found in all corners of the main island. These pieces are ideal as souvenirs to take home, but if you want to get creative, try making your own Awamori glass as a personalised memento. First, select your favourite colour. In a kiln heated to 1,300 degrees, the molten glass is wound around a pipe to form a round shape. After blowing the pipe to inflate the glass, the next step is to attach the base of the glass. Open the mouth of the glass with fire tongs and you're done. Visitors' handmade glasses are slowly cooled in the workshop and then posted to you at a later date.

    Location: Various places throughout Okinawa Prefecture

    Open: Hours vary by workshop

    8

    Enjoy nature and time to yourself with glamping

    If you want to enjoy camping in the great outdoors and the comfort of a hotel at the same time, glamping is the answer. This luxurious take on camping is a good way for couples to spend a relaxing time together without the hassle of standard camping. Nanmamu Nature Resort on Yagaji Island, which is part of Nago City on the main island of Okinawa, is dotted with glamping sites across a vast natural site. The facilities here are complete with beds and sofas inside the tents, as well as hammocks and shower rooms on wooden decks. Book ahead to reserve a barbecue for dinner and you'll be all set to enjoy the outdoors in style. Alternatively, a 10-minute drive from Naha Airport, Grand Camping Senagajima offers a chic version of glamping with vintage caravans.

    Location: NANMA MUI NATURE RESORT: 720 Yohena, Nago City, Okinawa Prefecture 905-1632, Japan GRANCAMPING SENAGAJIMA by WBF: 173 Senaga, Tomigusuku City, Okinawa Prefecture 901-0233, Japan

    photo by Nobuyuki Hayashi (CC BY 2.0) modified

    9

    Picnic tour of Yojima - an uninhabited island

    If you really want to eat in peace, try having a picnic on this uninhabited island surrounded by coral reefs, located about 15 minutes by private boat from Hotel Moon Beach in Onna Village. Yojima Island is a natural paradise full of tropical plants, colourful flowers and lush greenery. After enjoying an ecotour around the island, take a sea kayak to explore its coast. Feeling peckish? Head to the beach for a barbecue lunch! After eating, you can take a nap in a hammock or try your hand at making wind chimes with coral or seashells. A tour of this uninhabited island is the perfect getaway for a couple, with a wide range of activities to choose from including jet skiing and lure fishing.

    Location: Hotel Moon Beach: 1203 Maeganeku, Onna Village, Kunigami District, Okinawa Prefecture 904-0414, Japan

    Open: Long stay course: from 10 am to 4.30 pm. Short stay course: from 9 am to 1.30 pm

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    10

    Sunset at Bibi Beach Itoman

    To squeeze every last drop out of your stay in Okinawa, you can always watch the sun set at Bibi Beach Itoman before heading to the airport. Right next to the resort hotels and conveniently located 10 km from the airport, Bibi Beach is a perfect place to spend your last night in Okinawa. Here you can sit down on the white sands along the west coast of Itoman and watch the sun descend over the ocean. Alternatively you can cross the bridge and walk to the observatory on the sea, where you can sit back on a bench while gazing at the deep red sky. No doubt you'll want to talk about the memories of your trip to Okinawa while looking up at the planes that occasionally pass overhead.

    Location: 1-6-15 Nishizakicho, Itoman City, Okinawa Prefecture 901-0306, Japan

    Open: April—October: daily from 8.30 am to 8.30 pm. November—March: daily from 8.30 am to 6.30 pm (closed on New Year holidays)

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