Okinawa island is the largest in a chain of several hundred stretching from mainland Japan almost to Taiwan. This does put it right in the path of summer typhoons, but that doesn't stop the Japanese heading there in droves on their summer holidays. The south part of the island around Naha city is rather overdeveloped, but taking the extra hour to go north is well worth it. There are some excellent properties and beaches in this half, with more space to play with, and some of the world's best diving is along this stretch of coast. The northern half of the island also has some castle ruins of the indigenous Ryukyu kingdom which flourished here until Okinawa came under Japanese rule in the mid-19th century. The Ryukyu culture has a colourful vibrancy of its own with distinctive clothing, dances and laquerware which is still in evidence for the those seeking some cultural touring alongside the beautiful sea and beaches.