A Moment with Mr. Naoya Ojima – Iriomote Island, Japan

Okinawa’s luscious landscapes are an exciting proposition to any intrepid explorer. But what is it actually like on these islands? We had a chat with Naoya Ojima, an adventure guide on the stunning Iriomote Island, to find out…

Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do…

My name is Naoya Ojima.  I’m a tour guide for kayaking, trekking, snorkelling, and canyoning expeditions on Iriomote Island. The island is 90% covered by sub-tropical jungle and mangrove forest, so most of the time I’ll need to use a kayak to really explore the jungle and the sea.

Where is your favourite kayaking spot around the island?

Easy – Funauki bay

What is the best route to enjoy the island by foot?

The best route for trekking is the Urauchi River trekking route to the Mariudo and Kanpirei waterfalls.

Where would you send us if we wanted to see the best fish the island’s waters have to offer?

Maruma beach. It’s very close to a stunning coral reef where you’ll get to experience the colours and wildlife of underwater Okinawa.

What is your favourite beach for a post-trek slumber?

My favorite beach is, without a doubt, Hoshisuna (Star sand beach).

Best place to sample the island’s speciality, pineapple?

Between May and Aug, there are self-service Pineapple stands on the roadsides. You can get Iriomote Peach Pineapple for as little as 50 yen.

Where would you send us for a truly breath-taking view?

The top of Pinaisara waterfall boasts some of the best views on the island.

Where would you go for the best sample of Iriomote culture?

The Teshigoto (hand craft) center. It’s a traditional handmade fabric center.

Where do you go on the island to relax and reflect?

Always the beach. They’re always so quiet on Iriomote, so they’re the ideal spot to relax.

What distinguishes Iriomote from other islands in the archipelago?

The variety of landscapes and activities make Iriomote stand out. With sea, mountains, rivers, mangrove forests, waterfalls, caves, and jungles, you’ll never be bored.