Dan Buettner, an American writer, and explorer published a book in 2008 called The Blue Zone: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest. In his book, he talks about five areas in the world in which people often live over 100 years, as proven by certifiable birth certificates. Get your suitcases packed and your airline miles ready as you venture off to discover for yourself the secrets of these Blue Zones.
There are only five of these longevity spots, or blue zones, in the world: The Barbagia region of Sardinia, Italy; The islands of Okinawa, Japan; Loma Linda, California; The small island of Ikaria, Greece; and Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula.
With only 20% of your life expectancy being determined by genetics, there must be other factors that contribute to a person’s longevity. Reoccurring elements within these Blue Zones that Buettner and his researchers discovered were: Move naturally; know your purpose; learn to relax; eat less meat and more fruits and vegetables; drink alcohol in moderation; have a sense of belonging; stay social; and get frequent exposure to the sunshine.
Discovering The Blue Zones
Sardinia, Italy – The island of Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean after Sicily. It is roughly 190 miles from the Italian mainland. Sardinia is mostly mountainous with a sparse population except in the larger cities. There are a variety of places to stay. Each beach resort town has many hotels and hostels from which to choose. You will find the big chain hotels in the beach towns and the larger cities. If you prefer the smaller family-run properties, they are also available.
Keep in mind that it’s tough to get around on the island without a car, and this applies in particular if you’re going outside the major cities or renting a vacation property. Check out these top ten things to do in Sardinia.
Okinawa, Japan – Okinawa is a relatively small island that is approximately 67 miles long and 17 miles across at its’ widest spot.
Japan’s rainy season is known as tsuyu. Tsuyu in Okinawa usually begins in early May. The weather during this time can be very unstable, so it’s important to prepare for rain at any time. Humidity is the biggest problem during the rainy season because although it’s typically wet with lower temperatures, sometimes it has less rain and can be very hot.
Okinawa is home to the second largest aquarium in the world. It can be found at the northern end of the island. You will find the world’s biggest single tank that contains three large whale sharks, and hundreds of other fish. On the tollway, from Foster to the Aquarium it takes about 90 minutes by car.
The ocean in Okinawa is remarkable. This island may be the perfect place for you if you have a love for the water! Okinawa is a tropical environment, and the water is a beautiful shade of blue. It is a fantastic spot for snorkeling and scuba diving. You can also get certified for scuba diving while you are there!
Various festivals and events happen throughout the year in Okinawa. You can enjoy the visual beauty of flowers and whale watching in winter and spring. Summer enjoys marine sports, and traditional performing arts and the Fall offers cultural events and field sports. The Hari Dragon Boat Race is held in May. Some other traditional festivals include the Eisa dance competition during the Bon Festival period, and tug-of-war competitions held every fall and summer.
Loma Linda, California – Loma Linda is Spanish for “beautiful hill”. It is a small, health-conscious community in San Bernadino County, California. Loma Linda has been a national center for health and wellness research for decades. It is home to several thousand of The Seventh-day Adventist Church members. In 1993, Loma Linda became the first “smoke-free” city in San Bernardino County.
Loma Linda has a cosmopolitan feel despite its size. Visitors come to the city from all over the world. Some arrive as patients, many are students, and others come to teach, or conduct research. Many decide to stay. Loma Linda is next to California’s Interstate 10 freeway, so it is close to desert resorts, beaches, and the mountains. You may want to relax in one of the beautiful parks throughout the city.
Ikaria, Greece – Ikaria is a fantastic place for relaxing holidays. This place is named after Icarus, who supposedly fell into the sea when the sun melted his wax wings. The beaches are fabulous with golden sand, and crystal blue waters. There is no better place to enjoy a day in the sun. Due to the relaxing atmosphere, and completely off the beaten track, many of the beaches in Ikaria are used for camping and other nature activities.
The island has numerous hiking trails that lead you to small bays, mountainous villages, gorges, and magnificent vineyards. Wine is among the most famous local products, and you can try house wine in all taverns and restaurants around the island.
Nicoya, Costa Rica – The most noted feature of the Peninsula de Nicoya are the beaches. The coastline is vast with innumerable magnificent beaches, dramatic coastal scenery, and small villages each with its own distinct charm. The small villages offer water sports including fishing, snorkeling, surfing, and diving.
In fact, most of the areas have been discovered by surfers because Costa Rica’s Pacific side has one of the best surfing coastlines in the world. The Nicoya Peninsula has some of the most spectacular natural assets ranging from birding hotspots, turtle beaches, and subterranean caves. The maritime treasures are protected in several nature and wildlife reserves.
Costa Rica offers many other outdoor adventures and thrilling sports along with eco-tourism. You can go whitewater river rafting, zip-line through the jungle canopy, or cruise around Costa Rica by mountain bike, motorcycle, or all-terrain vehicle.
If you are looking for a more leisurely pace, you may decide to take a horseback ride, or glide through the water in a kayak. Choose from the Pacific or the Caribbean, where you will find significant amounts of marine life that you can explore while snorkeling or diving. You may also try your hand at sports fishing. Fishermen in Costa Rica regularly reel in world record catches.