Large green pond surrounded by grass and trees with a temple floating in its center

Planning Your Trip

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From strolling along a powdery beach and exploring a remote jungle landscape to enjoying a peaceful moment touring centuries-old fortresses, Japan’s southernmost prefecture offers many exciting vacation activities. Pack wisely to enjoy all Okinawa has to offer.

Ritz Carlton Hotel image
Ritz Carlton Hotel image
What To Pack

May through June is considered rainy season and downpours can be unpredictable, so it’s wise to throw a lightweight umbrella in your tote bag.

Day Trips
  • Just beyond the resort, there are many activities to explore on the 70-mile-long island. Depending on your interests, it would be wise to pack a few of these items.

  • From January to March, whale watching is a spectacular way to spend an afternoon. Bring a lightweight waterproof layer to protect against light sea spray.

  • Spring and summer are a popular times to go trekking in Yambaru Forest — home to some of the last surviving areas of subtropical rainforest in Asia — so bring comfortable walking shoes for the excursion.

  • Don’t forget a waterproof pouch for phones or cameras to capture images of the stunning scenery and rare animals while kayaking among the mangroves on the northern part of the island.

Beach Vacation
  • The prefecture of Okinawa is famed for its pristine and vast beaches, and the area surrounding the resort is particularly known for its warm waters and soft sand.

  • Bring along two bathing suits to make the most of the opportunities for sun and swim — one will always be dry and at the ready, even if you go for a swim twice (or more) in a day.

  • Sun is plentiful year-round in Okinawa, so pack sunscreen and reapply often. In addition, bring a hat to shield your eyes and face from the rays.

  • Particularly after a big surf storm or typhoon, shelling along Okinawa’s beaches can yield quite a boon. Bring a small tote to collect your seashell treasures.

Resort Essentials
  • Of course, visitors would be wise to spend a day relaxing at the resort and savoring its many amenities. Bring a few key items along to make the most of your downtime.

  • The Ritz-Carlton is nestled within the Kanehide Kise Country Club with direct access to an 18-hole golf course. Pack your clubs and shoes to play a round or two.

  • The award-winning spa features a sauna, steam room, vitality pool, hot dipping pools, and spa area. While robes and slippers are provided, consider bringing comfortable clothing for lounging in the relaxation room after your treatment.

  • While temperatures can soar outdoors, most buildings offer air conditioning. Pack a lightweight sarong or layer to ward off any chill.    
Travel for Good
Travel for Good
What To Reserve

While many travel to Okinawa, Japan, for the sun and stunning beaches, there are many other spectacular things to see and do, from world-class dining and relaxing spa appointments to touring historic sites. In addition to the requisite rental car or taxi, arrange a few activities before your visit to take full advantage of your trip to the region.

For classic Italian fare prepared with fresh-from-the-market ingredients, reserve a table for dinner at Chura Nuhji (which translates to “beautiful rainbow”). For a more dynamic meal — literally — Kise offers a teppanyaki experience with dishes featuring locavore specialties like Kuroge Wagyu beef and fresh seafood.  

Arrange for a signature treatment at the Okinawa Spa Resort — a stunning space of relaxation reached through a striking bamboo tunnel and beautiful gardens. The Stress Reliever Ritual combines a body exfoliation with an algae, mud or Oshadi body wrap and a massage using essential oils. Or consider the Ryukyu Nature Elements treatment that combines a foot cleansing, body smoothing, hot stone massage, facial and scalp treatment using natural ingredients like sea salt, Alpinia flower, honey, sea clay and other local elements.

Beaches may be one of the main attractions on Okinawa Island, but there are many inviting outdoor adventures to be had inland as well. Arrange for a trek in Yambaru Forest in the north to experience one of the last surviving areas of subtropical rainforest in Asia. Or hike to Nakagusuku Castle, the ruins of a 15th-century Ryukyu castle overlooking Nakagusuku Bay. Take in the beauty of the sprawling gardens at Shikina-en Gardens, the second home of the Ryukyu Royal Family with unique features like a hexagonal Chinese-style Buddhist temple floating on a pond and a mix of Chinese, Japanese and Ryukyu styles.

Arrange for tickets to Churaumi Aquarium, considered Japan’s best aquarium and home to the fresh-seawater Kuroshio Tank — the second largest in the world. Tamaudun, the mausoleum of the Ryukyu Royal Family, features a unique structure including inner chambers carved directly into the surrounding rock walls and ceilings covered in detailed engravings. The Okinawa Prefectural Museum is a modern structure, which houses a history museum as well as an art museum.


Ritz Carlton Hotel image
Ritz Carlton Hotel image

When you arrive in Okinawa, which consists of 150 small islands, you might not think you’re in Japan. The country’s southernmost prefecture is the antithesis of Tokyo’s sprawling megalopolis. Instead of skyscrapers and neon signs, Okinawa’s skyline is marked by gently swaying palm trees and the biggest light show is when the sun sets. Settle into a slower pace of life and take the time to enjoy the view, because with everything from snorkeling and white-sand beaches to ancient ruins and stunning waterfalls, Okinawa is truly a slice of paradise.


Time to Relax: Welcome to Okinawa, where the time goes a little slower and people are rarely in a rush. Take time to enjoy your surroundings before you start your day. Enjoy breakfast in bed, take a yoga class, go for a swim or just sleep in. And if you’re staying in one of the cabana rooms, definitely take a soak in your private outdoor whirlpool.

Tee it Up: Head out early to squeeze in a quick round of golf on the Kanehide Kise Country Club course, which is adjacent to the hotel. Surrounded by lush forest and ocean views, it’s a true gem of a course.


A Natural  Beauty: Head to northern Yambaru to see Okinawa’s most beautiful waterfall, Hiji. Walk on the well-marked trail through a natural forest, keeping an eye out to spot some of the turtles and birds that inhabit the area. You’ll cross a narrow suspension bridge that offers a beautiful view of the valley below and, before long, you’ll reach Hiji Waterfall. Enjoy the peaceful sounds of running water and relax before heading back. 

Go for a Swim: Drive south along the west coast and cross the bridge to Sesoko Island. The main beach, Sesoko Beach, has excellent snorkeling and swimming conditions. Alternatively, find a slice of shade under a cliff and relax for a while as you try to spot Ie Island in the distance.


Afternoon Tea: Stop back at The Ritz-Carlton, Okinawa for afternoon tea in The Lobby Lounge, where you can choose from a traditional tea set or an Okinawan-inspired one. For a little indulgence, order the Signature Ritz-Carlton Cake — a delicious balance of rich chocolate and citrus zest.

Garden of Delights: Take a scenic stroll through the Southeast Botanical Garden. Admire exotic flora such as dragon blood trees and lotus flowers, relax in the gazebos surrounding the lake and feed the colorful koi fish, symbols of good fortune and longevity in Japanese culture.  


Downtime: Book the private Forest Suite at The Ritz-Carlton Spa by ESPA for the ultimate experience for two. On your own private terrace among the surrounding treetops, you’ll enjoy a relaxing soaking bath and the treatment of your choice. A variety of massages, rituals, facials, detoxes, and scrubs is available.

Dinner for Two: Fresh from the spa, head to Gusuku at The Ritz-Carlton, Okinawa for dinner. Here, you can try some authentic regional dishes, like goya champuru (a bitter melon stir-fry) and rafute (stewed pork spare ribs). To add to the local flavor, you can enjoy the sound of a Sanshin, a traditional Okinawan stringed instrument, while you dine. 


Into the Blue: One of Okinawa’s most beautiful sights is underwater. With the appropriate equipment, you can dive or snorkel into the Blue Cave to witness the natural phenomenon of sun rays bouncing off

the white limestone bottom, emanating a brilliant blue light. 


On Ancient Grounds: Head south toward the city of Naha to visit Shurijo Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Originally built in the late 1300s, it’s where Ryukyu kings resided for many centuries. Explore the ancient grounds, making your way up to the top where the castle’s main hall stands. While you’re there, take in the lovely views overlooking Naha. 

Follow the Shurikinjocho Stone Path Road: On your way back from Shurijo Castle, walk down this charming stone path that was once a major thoroughfare. As you amble by beautiful 300-year-old Akagi trees, imagine what life was like in Okinawa centuries ago. 


Shop for a Souvenir: Okinawa is well known for its pottery. Explore the charming shops of Naha’s Tsuboya Pottery District and stop by Kamany, a family-run business that has been making pottery for six generations. Pick up one of its beautiful homewares for a special souvenir to bring back with you. 

Shaken, Not Stirred: Take part in The Ritz-Carlton, Okinawa’s class on the basics of cocktail making, which covers everything from recipes and techniques to glass polishing and tricks of the trade. You’ll learn how to make — and get to enjoy — a signature cocktail with awamori liquor, an Okinawa specialty made from long-grain rice. 


A Romantic Sunset: For your last evening, make sure to catch one of Okinawa’s magnificent sunsets. Go to Cape Manzamo, a coral reef cliff overlooking the ocean, perfect for watching the sun dip behind the horizon.

Ciao, Okinawa: Have dinner at Chura-Nuhji, Okinawa’s finest Italian restaurant. Fresh local produce, meats, and seafood are used to create traditional Italian dishes, with an Okinawan twist: think spaghetti with sea urchin, pork shoulder with fermented soybean, and risotto with awamori.


Salute the Sun: Wake up and make your way down to The Lobby Lounge for a morning yoga session overlooking the ocean. It’s the perfect peaceful start to the day.

Under the Sea: With only one day to explore Okinawa, it may be difficult to fit a snorkeling expedition into your schedule, but if you still want to explore sea life, visit Busena Marine Park, an underwater observatory tower that offers 360-degree views of the surrounding coral reef. If you have time, take the 20-minute ride on its glass-bottom boat and peer down to watch tropical fish swim by.


What Remains: Until 1609, Okinawa was a separate country from Japan and called the Ryukyu Kingdom. The island has five castles, but the remains of Nakijin Castle are unique in that it’s set among lush forests. Take the short, scenic walk up to this UNESCO World Heritage site and learn more about its history at the culture center.


Bridge to Paradise: Drive over the 1.2-mile bridge — one of the longest open-road bridges in Japan — to Kouri Island for lunch at L Lota. Chef Akasaka serves up fresh, imaginative dishes with an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients, especially from the northern part of the island. With 180-degree panoramic views of the ocean, it’s a great place to relax, have a glass of wine and enjoy a scenic, delicious meal.

To the Beach!: On the north side of the island, there’s Tokei Beach, whose shallow waters are so clear, you may be able to spot fish swimming right from the sand. Just east of Tokei is Tiinu Beach; walk down the path to the water and you’ll be greeted with the sight of its popular heart-shaped rock. Time it right and this spot is also the perfect place to watch the sunset.


A Cooking Show: Head back to The Ritz-Carlton, Okinawa, where you can choose from one of its fine eateries for dinner. For a taste of local cuisine, try Gusuku and feast on Okinawan-style short ribs and noodle dishes. Or if you want a little entertainment while you dine, try KISE, where the teppanyaki chefs will cook your dinner right in front of you.

Have a Nightcap: Close out your day with a drink at The Bar at the hotel. Opt for the signature cocktail, the KISE Mojito: Awamori mixed with Cointreau, dark rum, brown sugar, fresh lime, and mint leaves.