CONTRIBUTED BY MARY RICHARDSON
Okinawan vista, photo taken while geocaching last weekend
A while back, a neighbor of ours mentioned that he’s been doing something with his family called “geocaching.” Ever heard of it?
Basically, it’s a high tech treasure hunt game in which you use a hand held GPS to track down hidden containers, or geocaches.
Think of it sort of like the Amazing Race (except without the million dollars).
Although you’re not winning money, there’s lots of excitement that comes just from the hunt. Throw in some competition between spouses, friends, or siblings to see who can find it first, and it becomes even more fun.
Geocaching is enjoyable for just about everybody including solo explorers, couples, and especially families with children who get excited about discovering that hidden box. (Incidentally, you are supposed to leave the box where you found it and you don’t actually take away any treasure, although sometimes there are surprise gifts for kids)
What’s more, it’s the perfect excuse to get out of the house and explore this island! You have the GPS- you can’t get lost!
Here’s how it works: You first need a hand held GPS device that will work on Okinawa. Then you register on the official geocache website and look at the list of caches, or hidden treasures currently placed around the island. You enter the coordinates of the cache into your GPS, and use that, some given clues, secret codes, and your own wits to find the treasure. Visit the official geocache website here.
Where you will hunt: Geocaches are hidden in both well-known and remote locations, which makes it great for visiting places you wouldn’t ordinarily go to. The geocache list online tells you the general area of the island, the level of difficulty, where to park, and even what kind of shoes to wear.
My husband and I get out and explore all the time, but even so, our hunt last weekend took us to a park that we never even knew existed.
In addition, Geocaching is an international game, and there are hidden boxes all over the world (and I mean ALL OVER). That means you can geocache in Tokyo on your next family trip there. You can geocache when you visit family in the States this summer. You can geocache in Europe if you get stationed there next. In fact, we’re going to Nagano, Japan in a few weeks and we’re taking our GPS, because guess what? There’s a geocache hidden at one of the main temples there.
For even more information, a few years back, Kelly wrote this post about how to start geocaching on Okinawa. Read her post here
If you’ve ever had fantasies of being a contestant on the Amazing Race (like I have), here’s your chance to give it a whirl. Happy Geocaching!