Here's what you may not know, aside from its World War II past: This archipelago in the East China Sea has what it takes to
be the next big thing. Vacationers are drawn by white-white sand beaches, lush jungles, UNESCO World Heritage Site shrines,
and a relaxed island vibe.
Local taste: Dine on a chanpuru stir-fry (tofu, bitter melon, eggs, and meat) at Kise, the teppanyaki restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Okinawa.
Souvenir Nirvana: Okinawa is known for its strong craft traditions, especially pottery. For the best selection, head to the Tsuboya Pottery District, on the main island in the capital city of Naha, where workshops and galleries have set up shop.
When in Rome: Explore the sandy streets of Taketomi Island's quaint village as the 350 locals do—in a shaded cart pulled by water buffalo.