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The Voyage to Paradise

Located over 1500km southwest of Tokyo, the Okinawa archipelago is much closer to Taiwan than Japan’s capital. With a subtropical climate, the region is an ideal destination all year round, but what makes Okinawa special is its islands with breathtaking seascapes to match

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Choosing a perfect island to visit in the region of Okinawa is hardly an easy task. The charming islets are rather like colour palettes, each with distinctive characters and fascinating stories to be told, and over 160 - only 47 of them inhabited- to choose from, singling one out is almost impossible.


One of the popular destinations, Ishigaki Island, well-connected by air from Naha in Okinawa Main Island, Tokyo and other larger cities in Japan, often makes it high on the list for various reasons: a majestic mangrove wetland area of Nagura Ampru with unique faunas and floras, the breath-taking Kabira Bay with emerald-green water so clear and the mystic Ishigaki Island Stalactite Cave formed over 200,000 years. 


If the beauty of nature makes a mark in Ishigaki, it is the enchanting timelessness of the rustic Taketomi Island that may resonate for many years to come. Taketomi’s unique heritage and its remarkably Ryukyuan townscapes are adorned with red-tiled roofs and sand streets, while the coral reefs surrounding the island offer ideal diving spots. 


The great tales of Ryukyu Kingdom – the kingdom that existed in the region from 1429 to 1879 – are inseparable from the idyllic backdrop of Okinawa’s cerulean sea, and some of the other islands, Kume Island and Zamami Island both registered under the Ramsar Convention, are the ideal places to take strolls along the whitest beaches, letting one’s mind to drift away to the ancient past and its mystic tales. 


Taking in what the Okinawan archipelago truly offers and getting a full picture of its history and culture, are perhaps only possible by visiting multiple islands in the region. However unique each may be, for some, utilising ferries and planes to remote islets numerous times during one visit may be somewhat strenuous. 


There is however a good alternative, in a form of expedition cruises – not only efficient but an ideal way to navigate the region from sea. Ponant ( known for their Antarctic expeditions, for instance, has announced an exciting new route covering Okinawa’s remote islands with a scheduled launch in 2023. The infamous Zodiac, an assault landing ship used to reach the furthest of the world without infrastructure, will also be available, enabling the embarking on uninhabited islands and reaching some unspoilt beaches off the beaten track highlights of the journey.  The planned route in the region of Okinawa also reaches the beautiful beaches and remote islands directly, where larger boats cannot disembark, and setting sail during the night will minimise the travel time at the comfort of being on board.


Mr Ryo Ijichi, Commercial Manager Japan Korea / Expedition leader at Ponant affirms the appeal of travelling through the beautiful Okinawan seascapes, “This cruise is unique in that it allows you to land directly on the beautiful beaches of Okinawa and enjoy the islands to the fullest, rather than in ports or on remote islands where large ships cannot enter.”


Needless to say, Ponant’s mission does not end at fulfilling the needs of worldly explorers and travellers. The destinations otherwise inaccessible are often very sensitive regions that require at most environmental care and protection. It is the mission, only those who have seen the paradise can take true to their heart.


The remote islands of Okinawa are true gems of Japan – the paradise guarded by enchanting cobalt blues and welcoming tropical breeze.  


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