Japanese islands get national park status
The Japanese Environment Ministry has announced that a group of islands in the Okinawa Prefecture is now the country’s 31st national park, prompting celebrations among residents who will welcome the tourism increase.
Encompassing an area of more than 90,000 hectares and sporting many of the standard tourist draws including perfect beaches, beautiful waters and a laid-back culture compared with busy Tokyo, the Kerama-Ji islands are the perfect destination for a holiday.
But the tropical climate isn’t the only thing that attracts people, as the islands are home to some of the most concentrated coral reefs in the entire world, making them a magnet for diving enthusiasts.
Those venturing into the depths will uncover a plethora of beautiful fish and underwater flora, while those travelling between January and March may be lucky enough to witness the humpback whales that treat the archipelago as mating territory.
As a result of the unique marine situation, the designated national park status extends to seven kilometres away from the coast of the Kerama Islands, so as to protect these vital natural assets.
At a symposium discussing the national park, mayors from towns and villages archipelago said they expect tourism numbers to rise.
Those wishing to visit will be in for a long ride as Japan’s Tokyo and Osaka airports are a 12-hour trip away from London Heathrow, after which time an additional flight of between two to three hours is required to reach Naha Airport.
From there, a further 30-minute flight is needed, or a ferry trip lasting four hours from Tomari Port.
However, enthusiastic divers are certain to endure the journey so they can experience what the islands have to offer.
Be sure you take out travel insurance that covers all the bases, particularly if taking expensive scuba diving equipment on your trip.