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PONANT is the first cruise company to take you to the heart of the sublime landscapes of the tropical islands in southern Japan during an expedition cruise. On this 13-day itinerary aboard Le Jacques-Cartier, from the island of Ha Long to Naha, you will discover the rich natural heritage, traditional villages and craft of the Okinawa, Yaeyama and Sakishima Islands, in the Ryukyu archipelago.
You will set sail from Ha Long, renowned throughout the world for its UNESCO-listed bay, then head northward to reach the "Pearl of the Orient", Hong Kong. A former British colony, she's unlike any other city. Hiding behind the crowds and the neons are temples and markets, a strange mix of modernity and tradition.
Then, you will set sail for the southern islands of Japan, including Ishigaki, the capital island of the Yaeyama Islands. In the heart of the magnificent Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park, you will be able to enjoy the dynamic atmosphere of the eponymous city or discover Kabira Bay, renowned for its idyllic scenery, combining crystal-clear turquoise water and beaches of white sand.
Following a port of call in the picturesque village of Taketomijima, with its traditional Okinawan dwellings and its idyllic sandy expanses, Le Jacques-Cartier will sail south to the island of Iriomotejima. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this little corner of paradise will enchant you with its authentic and preserved character, with its wild beaches lying alongside traditional villages surrounded by luxurious tropical forest: jungle, mangrove, rivers, waterfalls. This unique biodiversity is made up of many endemic species.
The landscapes on the remote island of Yonagunijima, the easternmost of the Ryukyu Islands, offer a striking contrast: cliffs, windswept meadows, wild horses. The beauty of its sea-beds and their mysterious rocky formations will delight the most experienced divers.
After calling at the stunning Miyako Island, you will head for Kumejima, the island that linked Okinawa to China in the past. Famous for its 'Eisa', a form of folk dance performed to the rhythm of traditional drums, this multifaceted island will reveal itself through its natural treasures: the mythical Mifuga rock formation or the idyllic beach of Hatenohama, a point of reference for fans of the underwater world. You will also call at Iheya Island, Okinawa's northernmost territory, where the traditional culture of the region is preserved. You will be able to discover a few aspects of this through a traditional "Eisa" show featuring traditional drums.
Your final port of call will be Zamami, in the Kerama Islands. You will enjoy the unspoiled beauty of this pristine island, known the world over for the distinctive blue of the surrounding sea, called "Kerama blue". The sea life in the area is also exceptionally rich and sea turtles can often be spotted swimming among the coral.
Your cruise will draw an end in Naha, your port of disembarkation, on the island of Okinawa.