Explore Okinawa’s incredible biodiversity, and the enduring history of the Ryukyu Kingdom
Okinawa is home to incredible sites recognized as both Cultural and Natural World Heritage by UNESCO. These well-preserved areas offer visitors the chance to immerse themselves in the unique history and natural beauty of Okinawa, and engage with its distinct island culture.
Natural World Heritage
The northern part of Okinawa’s main island, and Iriomote Island—along with Amami-Oshima Island and Tokunoshima Island (Kagoshima Prefecture)—were designated Natural World Heritage in 2021. The areas encompass both Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park and Yambaru National Park. Sparsely inhabited and full of lush mangrove forests, these areas are home to an incredible variety of rare, endemic flora and fauna, some of which can be found nowhere else in the world. A trip to the northern part of Okinawa’s main island or to Iriomote Island offers visitors the chance to explore precious ecosystems, and appreciate the natural beauty and diversity of Okinawa.
Cultural World Heritage
From the 14th to 18th century, Okinawa flourished under the auspices of the Ryukyu Kingdom. The Golden Age of the Ryukyu dynasty spanned approximately 450 years, and prosperous trade with neighboring countries gave rise to a unique culture that can be seen in many aspects of modern Okinawa. But this expansive history and culture is perhaps best preserved in the Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Ryukyu Kingdom, which were designated Cultural World Heritage in 2000. Visit the well-preserved ramparts of imposing castles, royal tombs, and natural sacred sites to explore Okinawa’s enduring history.