The first thing a good beach does is immediately make you want to take your watch off. But what makes a really great beach is when you do that — and then kick off your shoes as well. That's exactly what I did when I arrived at Eef Beach on Kume Island, Okinawa.

The university near Naha on Okinawa Island where I teach on Tuesdays and Fridays canceled classes on Tuesday, Oct. 24 for a students' "Career Day" — meaning that, as my weekends are usually free, I was looking (with delight) at a windfall four-day break. Pacing my pleasure, though, I spent the Saturday taking care of this and that, and the Sunday sleeping in, resting up and checking out where to go, and how.

I opted to take the ferry named Naha from Naha's Tomari Port to Kume Island, about 95 km to the west in the East China Sea. It pays to check the schedule at the port if you can, since there's usually only one round trip a day and, for any number of reasons, regular times may change on occasion.