Things to do in Okinawa
Okinawan soba is the local version of ramen, commonly eaten for lunch and to finish off a multi-course meal. It's set apart by the broth, drawn from pork and skipjack tuna, as well as the thick Chinese-style noodles. Tweak the flavour to your liking by steeping the noodles in awamori liquor infused with local chilli peppers and top your bowl with some pickled ginger.
Central Naha is home to numerous well-known soba shops, but we recommend heading to the slightly out-of-the-way Shimujo, which serves particularly lip-smacking fare. Kick back and relax while looking out over historic gardens, stone fences and the traditional Okinawan guesthouses that are known as kominka. Shimujo. 2-124-1 Shuri-Sueyoshicho, Naha-shi. 11.30am-3pm (or as long as stock lasts), closed Wed.
The largest of the Yaeyama Islands, Iriomote boasts the second-largest surface area of all the islands in Okinawa prefecture. Almost 90 percent of it is covered by a subtropical old growth forest, making Iriomote home to sites of spectacular natural beauty.
Choose from a wide variety of tours that let you experience the wild surrounds, including a 'stroll' (more like a hike) through the jungle, a kayaking tour and a snorkelling experience. If you're lucky, you might even come across the rare Iriomote wildcat... Iriomote Osanpo Kibun. 10-89 Uehara, Taketomi-cho, Yaeyama-gun. 9am-9pm. english.iriomote-osanpo.com/index.html.
Try hopping from one eatery to another but don't miss Jizake Yokocho, the entrance to which is located inside a drug store, and lend an ear to the beautiful tunes with a glass of awamori in hand. Minyo Izakaya Jizake Yokocho and other izakayas on Kokusai-dori. 2F, 2-8-13 Matsuo, Naha-shi. 6pm-11pm.
Commemorating the countless lives lost during the Battle of Okinawa, these are well worth a visit, even if you aren't a history buff. The bunker is particularly haunting, as its walls still bear scars from the shrapnel that exploded when the Japanese soldiers within decided to take their own lives with grenades. Old Navy Headquarters Bunker. 1066 Oroku, Naha-shi. 8.30am-5.30pm (Jul-Sep), 8.30am-5pm (Oct-Jun).
The warm climate of the Yaeyama Islands is ideal for raising strong, premium black wagyu cattle. Ishigaki beef is one of the island’s local delicacies with its rich and flavourful taste containing just the right hint of fat. Commonly eaten in steak and yakiniku form, Ishigaki beef is also found in burgers – the best of which you can find at the decidedly laidback Corner’s Grill. Corner's Grill. 258-1 Okawa, Ishigaki-shi. 11am-6pm (last orders 5pm or as long as stock lasts).