In need of relaxation? This wellness resort is about as feel-good as it gets. The facilities are impeccable, with a dry sauna, hammam, aerosol napping room and various hydrotherapy treatments. Even the restaurant menu is designed to have a therapeutic effect on guests – foodies also get a lounge bar, cafe and poolside bar. The rooms are simple and spacious, boasting gorgeous views of Nago Bay, perfect for watching the sunset after a busy day of pampering.
Halekulani is a Hawaiian word meaning House Befitting Heaven and, here, the shoe fits. Floor-to-ceiling windows, smooth marble surfaces and tasteful decor all follow the the seven-shades-of-white design concept, which allows the interiors and exteriors to blend elegantly into the stunning coastal surroundings. If you want to get immersed in water more than look at it, there are five pools to choose from, one of which has a beautiful mosaic in the shape of a cattleya orchid. Further unwinding can be found at the natural hot springs, extensive spa facilities, four top-class restaurants and breathtaking Sunset Bar Spectra.
On the south coast of Okinawa Island, just 35 minutes from Naha Airport, lies a strikingly red-tiled limestone mansion, standing tall above a white sand beach. Hyakuna Garan has a strong naturalist philosophy – it’s surrounded by trees and panoramic ocean views – so there are less than 20 rooms here, really allowing the place to breathe. That also leaves lots of space for galleries, meditation spaces, a library and, most notably, the amazing rooftop open-air baths. Head upstairs and get a flawless view of the Pacific.
Closer to Taiwan than to mainland Japan is Ishigaki Island, where you’ll find this chic complex of villas. There are only five of them, neatly dispersed among the subtropical forest that borders the beach, as well as a stylish restaurant offering high-quality local delights. The resort was designed by architect Norihiko Dan, who made sure everything – from the warm lighting to acoustics that complement birdsong – is precisely crafted to help you immerse yourself in nature.
This resort is partnered with The Terrace Club At Busena but, unlike that property, The Uza allows children under the age of 13. Every villa comes with a private pool and an outdoor terrace, while indoor spaces are open, with lots of light. There are a number of restaurants and bars, as well as a shop, gym and spa, making this an ideal retreat for families, groups of friends or couples looking for an easy-going getaway.
If you’re looking for peace and quiet, why not journey the extra mile and make it to the tiny island of Kohama, where you’ll find this stylish hotel. Some of the rooms practically open up straight onto the beach; we won’t blame you for being tempted by the white sands and sparkling turquoise waters that envelop the island. You can also book a wide variety of adventures through the hotel. Try snorkelling, scuba diving and paddle boarding, or simply sit back and take in the sights as you go on a tour of the island in a water buffalo-powered cart.
Back on the main island, just 30 minutes from Okinawa City, you’ll find this impressive beachside Spanish colonial-style hotel. You’ll have unbelievably quick access to the beautiful Nirai-Beach, while there’s also a huge swimming pool, a tennis court and a spa. There are three shops onsite – one for food, one for clothes and one for Okinawan souvenirs – and the eight restaurants cover all tastes, from local fare to Chinese- and Western-inspired dishes.
No hotel in the shadow of an airport has any right to be so relaxing. Choose a room with ocean views or opt for one from which you can watch planes land and take off from Naha throughout the day. Sample the refreshing seafood at Ocean Dining Kajinaa and reward yourself with a specialised massage treatment. This hotel’s crowning glory, however, is the extraordinary Ryujin hot spring. The “Dragon God’s Bath” has naturally warm water from deep below the island that provides the most soothing soak, particularly when you’re in an open-air bath, watching the sunset over the Kerama Islands. Bliss.
If you’re looking for a city stay with easy access to Okinawa’s many natural treasures then try Hotel Aqua Citta in the heart of Naha. The main attraction here is on the very top floor, where you’ll find the only see-through pool in the city. It overlooks the main highway and is perfectly placed for mesmerising views of the urban nightscape. There’s also a jacuzzi and a poolside bar to help you take in the city lights in style.
Become a true islander when you book a stay at this village resort on the remote island of Taketomi, near Ishigaki. The 48 traditionally built Okinawan pavilions here, with red-tiled roofs and shisa lion figurines, are only a short walk from a pristine white beach that is almost always empty. Walk past picturesque gardens, see villagers picking their vegetables for the day, and breathe in the fresh sea air as you discover what tranquillity really means.
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I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
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Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
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