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Last updated : Nov 2009
Okinawa
Okinawa - TravelPuppy.com
Okinawa consists of 161 islands and is situated far south of Japan, like stepping stones between Kyushu and Taiwan. The clear turquoise seas, subtropical climate and plenty of fine beaches mean that the islands are a holiday favourite among the Japanese. Recently, however, many of the islands have also begun to become popular as eco-destinations. Numerous coral reefs offer outstanding diving, with several resorts catering to enthusiasts.

Okinawa Island, the main island of the group, has many famous resorts such as Manza Beach and Onna Beach, with white sands and water sports. The amazing formations of the Gyokusendo Caves are also a well-liked attraction. Naha, the relaxed Okinawan capital, is well known for its pottery and textiles and remarkable Shuri Castle, former seat of the Ryukyu kings. The vast US bases nearby help to fuel its vibrant nightlife.

The island has many reminders of the intense fighting that were fought there during World War II, therefore the southern coastline is dotted with war memorials.

Ishigaki Island has excellent diving, snorkeling and folkcrafts and is a great base from which to explore the more remote islands. Iriomote Island is well known for its mangrove swamps, jungle interior and rare animal life such as the Iriomote Wildcat, while tiny Taketomi still has its rural charm. Occurring all through the islands, Okinawa’s ancient Ryukyu festivals are among Japan’s most colourful and feature distinctive performing arts.