Exploring wellness in Okinawa’s ‘longevity islands’

Clients seeking a long life should tap into the culture of this Japanese archipelago, says Laura French

We love…

Known as the ‘village of longevity’, Ogimi, in the north of Okinawa’s main island, is famous for having one of the world’s highest life expectancies. Take a stroll among its life-giving forests and majestic limestone hills and you’ll understand why. Or learn more about the village lifestyle from a local family while trying your hand at a spot of farming on a homestay, with one-night experiences from £67.


Star attraction…

Iriomote island
For active adventures in stunning scenery, head to Iriomote, the second-biggest island in the archipelago. Recently designated a Unesco World Heritage Site, this picturesque spot offers kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, canyoning and more amid mountains, mangrove forests, waterfalls and beaches. Wildlife fans can also keep an eye out for the endangered Iriomote wildcat, part of the leopard family.


Make time for…

Wayn-Zen, Onna
If yoga on a secluded white-sand beach sounds like your client’s thing, recommend a visit to Wayn-Zen. Located in the village of Onna in the centre of the main island, this idyllic hilltop meditation centre offers various holistic experiences, including a ‘walking meditation and beach yoga’ session set against a breathtaking backdrop. Classes are priced from £24, with post-class meals using locally grown ingredients available for an extra charge.


Where to stay…

Halekulani Okinawa
Okinawa isn’t short on wellness retreats, but for one of the best, look to beachfront resort Halekulani, also in the village of Onna. Here, acclaimed professor Arakawa teaches sessions based on Okinawa’s famous longevity-boosting lifestyle, with signature experiences focusing on Goju-ryu (a style of karate specific to the region) and local wellness philosophies. Two and three-night packages are available, with prices from £1,670, including meals and a spa treatment.


Book it…

InsideJapan offers a 10-night Okinawa Island Hopping itinerary, visiting Iriomote, Taketomi, Ishikagi and Tokyo, including accommodation, guided tours, domestic flights and transfers, from £5,090 per person based on two sharing. The operator can also tailor-make wellness-themed trips visiting Ogimi, Onna and beyond.


Agent training
Visit Okinawa has released new tools for agents wanting to learn more about wellness and culture in the region, from a webinar focused on the history and heritage of the archipelago to a video on Iriomote island. Training courses are also available through Online Travel Training.

PICTURES: Shutterstock/Renata Barbarino; Ogimi Village Tourism; Halekulani Okinawa; OCVB/Wataru Kohayakawa

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