Okinawa consists of 160 islands, of which about 30 percent are inhabited. The summer can be hot and humid (and will likely be more crowded than during the rest of the year), but it’s still a nice time to visit, especially if you crave the sun’s rays. In August, baby sea turtles hatch and make their way to the ocean.
Okinawa sees an average of eight typhoons a season—most hitting in September (sometimes bleeding into early October). When they hit, the islands batten down the hatches and ride out the storms. If you are forced indoors, duck into a restaurant for a glass of awamori, a distilled alcoholic rice drink unique to Okinawa. For a peek at the local customs, tour the Ryukyu Mura, a reconstructed village on Okinawa Island that treats visitors to parades, drumming, local cuisine, and hands-on experiences. Or head to the important Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum, which documents the devastating effects of the 1945 Battle of Okinawa, a campaign that resulted in more than 200,000 military and civilian casualties.
But once the typhoons pass, calm returns to Okinawa. Temps seldom shift beyond five to ten degrees throughout the year, and the winter months are the best time to dive if you’re game on snorkeling or scuba diving; the season affords the best visibility for taking in the manta rays, migrating hammerhead sharks, huge array of tropical fish, and coral reefs—with water temps that seldom dip below 68 degrees. If you prefer to stay above sea level (as in, way above), the treetop obstacle course at Forest Adventure Park will get you in touch with nature—and your inner Tarzan. More outdoor adventure awaits on Iriomote Island, where the jungle-covered landscape challenges experienced hikers and kayakers.
Pockets of rain typically visit the islands throughout late spring.