Retreat to Halekulani Okinawa, Japan
November 21, 2022 by Perrie Hartz
Stretching nearly a mile down the stunning white sand coastline of Japan’s Okinawa island, Halekulani Okinawa is a magnificent resort, Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star resort, located in the picturesque Onna Village and surrounded by the subtropical paradise of Kaigan Quasi-National Park. Okinawa is located in a Blue Zone recognized for its wellness benefits for vitality. The second outpost of Hawaii’s Halekulani brand, Halekulani Okinawa opened in 2019 and ushered in a new standard or luxury and serenity to the already-idyllic island escape.
All of Halekulani Okinawa’s 310 standard guest rooms (538 square feet) and 45 suites (818 to 3,164 square feet) are equipped with large sliding glass doors that lead to a private balcony overlooking the stunning emerald sea. There are also five spacious private villas (either one-or two-bedroom) dotted along the property’s clifftop that offer more privacy and exclusivity, each of which has its own heated pool and onsen, a bath with natural hot springs.
The resort’s interiors were designed by the world-renowned Champalimaud Design, with sleek, minimalistic décor and just seven shades of white for the color scheme. The simple elegance of the rooms allows the crystalline ocean and lush natural surroundings to take centerstage. While the Sunset Wing of the resort has the best views of Okinawa’s famous glowing orange sunsets, The Beachfront Wing has the best direct ocean views. Regardless of where a guest chooses to stay though, they are guaranteed a luxurious haven of rest and relaxation with a truly incredible backdrop.
Halekulani Okinawa offers an exceptional array of gourmet dining options, with four signature restaurants and a chic cocktail bar. Shiroux, led by two-Michelin Star Tokyo chef Hiroyasu Kawate, melds French cuisine with local ingredients. Meaning “white”, Shiroux is large and airy, with billowing white curtains and white walls that frame the incredible deep blue waters of the China Sea beyond the restaurant’s large windows. Aomi restaurant puts an innovative spin on traditional Japanese cuisine made from seasonal ingredients from all over Japan, with a menu that includes kaiseki cuisine and shabu-shabu hot pot, along with umami and sushi which are available at the sushi counter.
Halekulani’s iconic House Without A Key restaurant—a staple in Hawaii for many years—is Halekulani Okinawa’s all-day dining option. With comfortable outdoor terrace seating, guests can feel the gentle sea breezes during breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and live nighttime entertainment will add color and culture to the dining experience. The menu offers an array of cuisine options, from eggs, sushi rolls, fresh fruits, and pastries for breakfast to local and Hawaiian favorites like Okinawa soba with pork ribs and traditional ahi poke for dinner. (Don’t miss the restaurant’s famous coconut cake, which has been a favorite at the Hawaii property for more than 60 years.) Kingdom is a chic Japanese steakhouse with sleek and elegant interiors, along with a large and impressive selection of wines. Located in the lobby of the Sunset Wing, Bar Spectra is the perfect spot to gaze out at the majestic Okinawa sunset while sipping one of Halekulani’s signature mai tais. Here, guests can relax and enjoy a pre-dinner aperitif or a nightcap at twilight.
The resort’s world-renown spa and wellness center reflects a melding of both Hawaiian and Japanese healing practices. At SpaHalekulani, the treatments are inspired by the ancient healing methods of both cultures and infused with “Nuchigusui,” traditional Okinawan ingredients considered to be the medicine of life, to promote a deeper state of relaxation. Treatments are tailored to the personal needs of each guest for a bespoke experience that balances and enhances physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. With an indoor pool, natural hot springs and fitness center that are accessible both before and after treatments, Spa Halekulani is a peaceful retreat where guests can unwind and indulge.
Halekulani Okinawa offers an incredible array of activities and excursions for guests to enjoy. There is a large selection of cultural classes, diving and snorkeling tours, cruises and more available for guests. Other activities that take advantage of the incredible crystalline waters surrounding the resort include clear SUP (paddle boarding) tours, clear kayak tours, and a Haarii Dragon boat experience. Guests can also take private chartered cruises, both during the day and for sunset, to explore the surrounding waters. Halekuani’s immersive cultural programs offer a range of family-friendly activities like the Coral Nurturing Marine Environment Conservation Program that teaches environmental conservation and sustainability initiatives. Other culture options include Shisa painting and a Sanshin Workshop (an Okinawan three-stringed musical instrument). For a one-of-a-kind outing, witness the island’s famed fireflies light up the forest (July through September).
The Halekulani Okinawa Escapes program encourages guests to immerse themselves within the island’s culture by participating in unique and authentic experiences. Created under the direction of Dr. Masashi Arakawa of Ryukyu University, a leading expert in wellness tourism research in Okinawa, the program includes three experiences, “Discover the Island’s Mabui (Soul),” “Discover the Island’s Umui (Spirit,)” “Discover the Island’s Glow” and two latest outdoor adventures, “Connect with Nature in Yanbaru.” and “Wade Through the Waters of Yanbaru.” These immersive activities are available exclusively at Halekulani Okinawa, with each experience providing varying insights on Okinawa’s wisdom of health and longevity.
Halekulani is a true sanctuary of tranquility set within ethereal natural wonders, where guests can feel connected to the ancient soul of Okinawa and experience an escape that is both culturally enhancing and exquisitely peaceful.
1967-1, Nakama, Onna-son, Kunigami-gun