Naminouegu Shrine, Naha, Okinawa, Japan (IMAGEMORE Co Ltd Getty)

Cliffs at Manzamo, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan (Gyron Photography/amanaimagesRF/Getty)

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What to do in Okinawa

When visiting Okinawa, don’t expect traditional Japan. The four island groups in this southernmost prefecture host an estimated 30,000 members of the U.S. military (as well as a legion of expats), and you’re liable to hear just as much English as Japanese at the islands’ conveyer-belt sushi spots. The Okinawan culture also adds its own cuisine and language to the mix, resulting in a hybrid of East and West—with a refreshingly laid-back vibe. Most visitors arrive in Naha, a major city on Okinawa Island. From there, explore the island’s famed snorkeling over soft coral reefs, arrange dive trips off the Kerama Islands, or surf the breaks of Chatan City. Or hop a ferry and visit one of the other islands in this vast archipelago, where you can dive the mystic ruins of Yonaguni, camp on Ie Island, and bliss out on expansive beachfronts.

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