Come hike the best hikes in Okinawa prefecture, a series of islands in southern Japan with its own unique cultural identity and enchanting tropical landscape. Although Okinawa is definitely as lovely as the rest of the country, the beauty on this chain of islands is of a different kind than what you'll find in the rest of the archipelago. The island chain's unique geology provides its own unique variety of delightful scenery to enjoy while on a hike. On the main island (also called Okinawa), travelers come to Yambaru National Park to admire the incredibly lush jungle scenery. Yambaru is one of the largest national parks in Okinawa prefecture. A nature preserve for local wildlife, Yambaru takes hikers on elevated walks through a forest of mangroves, where they might encounter rare creatures like the Okinawa woodpecker and the Long-Armed Scarab Beetle. Ocean vistas bordered by beaches of white sand lay beside picturesque limestone bluffs, and stunning waterfalls hide within an evergreen forest. Outside the main island, we recommend the island of Iriomote for an off-the-beaten-path hiking adventure. Iriomote is the second-largest island in Okinawa prefecture, and the largest of the Yaeyama chain. The island has a good number of wonderful hiking trails for travelers to explore, with the longest (and most challenging) being the 1200 km trail right through the center of the island. Iriomote also has a beautiful forest of mangroves that trekkers love to explore on foot or by canoe, and the many other local activites include swimming, snorkeling, and river kayaking. Come to Okianwa prefecture, and behold the myriad subtropical beauties waiting to be discovered while on enjoyable hiking trails the whole family will love.
Iriomote Island is one of the largest in the Okinawa archipelago (second only to the main island), and one of the chief islands in the Yaeyama island group. Desipite being a large island, it is largely wild and untouristed, covered by dense mangrove forests protected as a national park. Offers a good number of hiking trails to explore its lush landscape, with the longest and most difficult path reaching around 20 kilometers in length. Hiking through the dense jungles of Iriomote can feel like a real off-the-beaten-path wild adventure, the dense mangrove jungle hiding remote waterfalls, rare wildlife, even the crumbling ruins of an old coal refinery. While hiking, keep an eye out for the Iriomote Cat, an endangered wild feline about the size of a large housecat only to be seen while hiking here. It is truly a gift to see one while out hiking the Iriomote jungle, since they reportedly number just over a hundred remaining cats. For adventurous travelers looking for a varied travel expeirence on the island, pristine beaches, scuba diving / snorkeling, and river kayaking offer even more ways to get a richer experience from your trip to Iriomote Island.
Yambaru National Park is located on the main island of Okinawa, and is one of Okinawa prefecture's most impressive nature preserves. The chief attraction of Yambaru (or Yanbaru) is the spectacular mangrove forest, which beckons travelers to explore on foot or in a canoe. Hikers can access the area via wooden boardwalks, presenting a trail of only modest difficulty. Also within the park area are gorgeous waterfalls within a dense forest of evergreens, as well as unspoiled beaches near rocky cliffs. The park is an incredibly beautiful sight to see, no matter which season you choose to travel. In addition, a superb array of wildlife diversity inhabits this section of the island, including the Okinawa woodpecker, Okinawa rail, and the locally famed Yambaru Long-armed Scarab Beetle. Some of these animals are endemic to this region and even endangered, so they are protected speceis within this park.
Yambaru National Park