Planning Your Time in Okinawa

A journey to the tropics means relaxation is your top priority, so plan well to avoid the travel stresses Okinawa can throw at you. Two factors make getting around challenging: it's easy to forget just how vast an area the prefecture covers; and you're competing with "Okinawa Time," a relaxed island philosophy that is both endearing and frustrating. Minimize tension and maximize your fun by choosing one or two places to explore instead of trying to see it all—but don't spend your whole vacation on Honto. The farther you get from the beaten track, the more richly rewarding your time here will be.

Follow up a day devoted to Naha's sights with another day each for the northern and southern sights of Honto. After that, pick an island chain and head out. Adventure activities like scuba diving, sea kayaking, trekking, and snorkeling are readily available. Remember, though, that these sports take up energy and time, so if you plan to try a range of activities consider lingering around one locale for a few days rather than pinballing around the archipelago. You can't fly the same day you scuba dive.

We recommend Ishigaki-jima and its neighbors Iriomote-jima and Taketomi-jima for a week away from it all; you'll find reliable guides servicing the entire gamut of adventure activities through the region's diverse natural environments and sights ranging from homey city to rainforestlike wilderness. The area has remained largely sheltered from the tourist industry, so this frontier is yours to claim.

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