If there is one place in Japan that's best known for its beaches, it's Okinawa. Japan's southernmost prefecture is home to picture-perfect pristine beaches such as Manza Beach, Okuma Beach, Moon Beach, and Sunset Beach. 

While travelers can definitely spend their time in Okinawa just beach hopping, Okinawa also has much to offer those who prefer something else. Here are five things to see in Okinawa aside from the prefecture's gorgeous beaches. 

Himeyuri Peace Museum

Himeyuri Peace Museum, Itoman, Okinawa, Japan

(Photo : Screenshot taken from the Himeyuri Peace Museum Facebook page)

Okinawa saw significant damage and loss of life during World War II. This led to the founding of Himeyuri Peace Museum in 1989. The goal of the peace museum of share the experiences of the locals during the war and to stress the importance of peace. 

Visitors will be able to watch testimonial videos of survivors as well as explore a room dedicated to the 227 students and teachers who lost their lives during the Battle of Okinawa. These students and teachers were formed into a nursing unit during the war. 

Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium 

Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, Motobu, Okinawa, Japan

(Photo : JC MILHET/Hans Lucas/AFP via Getty Images)

Located within the Ocean Expo Park, thhe Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium is a must-visit for anyone who enjoys learning more about the creatures of the sea. The aquarium is open all-year round and typical open at 8:30 a.m. local time. 

Visitors should not miss out on the areas dedicated to dolphins, the West Indian Manatee, and sea turtules. The sea turtle pool, in particular, is where visitors can see the likes of the Hawksbill sea turtle and the Olive ridely sea turtle up close. 

Related Article: 5 Interesting Facts About Okinawa

Okinawa World 

Gyokusendo Cava, Okinawa World, Nanjo, Okinawa, Japan

(Photo : FoxyStranger Kawasaki on Wikimedia Commons)

Anyone looking for a theme park in Okinawa may be directed to what is know as Okinawa World. However, if you're expecting to find amusement park rides and that sort of thing, you won't be finding them here. Instead, Okinawa World is home a craft village, the second longest cave in all of Japan, and even a snake museum. 

The second longest cave in all of Japan is none other than Gyokusendo Cave, which is around 2,788 feet (850 meters) long and has well-maintained walking paths. If the idea of a snake museum intrigues you enough, head to Habu Park, which got its name from the poisonous snake that calls it home.  

Shuri Castle 

Shuri Castle, Naha, Okinawa, Japan

(Photo : Carl Court/Getty Images)

Located in the city of Naha, Shuri Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It used to serve as a palace to the Ryukyu Kingdom before it was largely neglected. Nearly destroyed during World War II, the castle served as a university campus for time before reconstruction began in 1992. 

However, it is important to note that the structures found in the main courtyard were destroyed in a fire in 2019. The rebuilding efforts are underway as of writing. 

Southeast Botanical Gardens 

Southeast Botanical Gardens, Okinawa, Okinawa, Japan

(Photo : Screenshot taken from the Facebook page of the Southeast Botanical Gardens)

Travelers who don't want to stray far from nature despite not going to the beach should check out the Southeast Botanical Gardens. Found at the heart of the city, these botanical gardens are home to over 30,000 different specimens of 1,300 species of trees and shrubs. These include the Alexander Palm, Baobab, and Dragon Blood tree. 

For those looking for animals, the Southeast Botanical Gardens also has allocated areas where squirrel monkey and capybaras can be seen up close. There is also a bus tour available for those who want to tour the gardens more conveniently. 

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