Hop over to Miyakojima for some adventure
A day relaxing on a beach, having a glass of beer and BBQ with your friend is a great way of spending your weekend in Okinawa. Or if you are a shutter bug, you may have a hard time making a choice between the nostalgic scene of sugarcane roads and the vibrant color of hibiscus lined in front of resort hotels.
A peaceful mood and beautiful nature is what many tourists expect in Okinawa.
But if you are an outdoor type of person who is looking for some adventure and even more dynamic nature, you might consider hopping on a plane for the hour flight to Miyakojima Island.
Located about 187 miles Southwest of Okinawa’s main island, Miyakojima will blow your mind if you think Okinawa is all about peaceful and beautiful nature. Nature on this island deserves one more adjective: amazing.
What is special about Miyakojima even to a regular Okinawan like myself, is its flat, big landscape. Higashihennazaki Cape is one of the locations that represent such uniqueness.
Setting a foot on this big, long and flat stretch at the east end of Miyakojima will make you forget that you’re still in Okinawa. The dynamic scenery of this location is straight out of a fairytale or a drama. I would not be surprised if scenes from Game of Thrones took place at this site.
What makes this cape even more curious is the rocks scattered along the coastal waters on the north side. Commonly called “Tsunami Ishi,” these rocks are believed to have been brought to where they are by a huge tsunami 245 years ago.
Actually, some of them were washed up and left on the cape, so you can take a close look and see how big they are. The wildness of nature that reportedly claimed the lives of 12,000 people still brings a chill today.
Beach by dune
On Miyakojima Island, some beaches tickle your curiosity with their breathtaking landscapes. “Sunayama Beach (Sand Mountain Beach),” often ranked as one of the most beautiful beaches in Japan, is a must-go place for many tourists. As the name suggests, it is literally a beach by a dune.
You may find yourself drenched in sweat as you climb up the sandy hill before you get to see any part of the sea. But once you come to the top, it’s time to say, “Hello Ocean!” and let the fun begin.
You can skid, roll or run down the sandy hill. Or you can go stroll down slowly as you hold your partners hand and enjoy the exceptional view. When you get to the bottom, you will be welcomed by rock in the form of an arched gateway, as if to invite you to more wonders.
Did you know that Miyakojima is hitched to the longest toll-free bridge in Japan? It was Jan. 31, 2015 that Irabu Bridge debuted to connect Miyakojima and Irabujima islands. Driving across this 2 mile and 351 yard bridge is a beautiful adventure. But better yet, this bridge is also a passage to another world of myth and legend.
Toori Ike is a pair of ponds on Shimojijia, an island right next to Irabujima. The two big holes in the rock are 246 feet and 181 feet in diameter and 148 feet and 82 feet in depth, respectively. These ponds, which are connected to one another and to the ocean by underwater caves, are a hard-to-miss spot for divers with adventurous minds. Even if you are not a diver, you can still experience the supernatural mood of this place, which is in fact known for its legends of mermaids.
Any way you want
The locations mentioned above are only a small part of what this exceptional island has to offer. There is more to explore and experience, and you can enjoy the amazing nature anyway you want.
If you are done taking photos or scuba diving, you can tee off on a course next to resort hotels lined up on the south coast. There are big sports events such as triathlons and beach volley ball tournaments where you can test your physical strength. Or, join the crowds at music festivals held regularly on the island.
Come to Miyakojima, and let the nature take your breath away.
*Flights between Miyakojima and Naha, Okinawa, are available from airline companies such as Japan Trans Ocean Air, All Nippon Airways and Ryukyu Air Commuter. Flight time is approximately 45 minutes. There are also airlines between Tokyo Haneda and Miyakojima provided by Japan flights and All Nippon Airways.
*The following locations are indicated in the map by numbers that correspond to that of each location.
1. Higashihennazaki Cape
Address: Henna, Gusukubebora, Miyakojima city 906-0101, Approximately 40 minute drive from Miyako Air Port
2. Sunayama Beach
Address: Nikawadori, Hirara, Miyakojima city 906-0008, Approximately 15 minute drive from Miyako Airport
3. Toori Ike
Address: Sawada, Irabu, Miyakojima city 906-0507
4. Miyako Airport
Address:1657-128 Shimozato Hirara, Miyakojima city 906-0013