Explore high and far on Okinawa's Miyagi Island

by Shoji Kudaka
Stripes Okinawa

Past Henza Island, the road will lead you to Miyagi Island, formerly known as Takahanari Jima, or “a high and distant island” in Okinawan dialect.

The topography of the island puts parts of it at around 328 feet or more above sea level. This height provides optimal places on the island for stunning views of sunsets, sunrises and vast landscape.

The dynamic island, however, has a murky past. During the Ryukyu Kingdom (1429-1879), Miyagi Island was a place of exile for political criminals, according to the Okinawa Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Though those days are long gone, the island’s unique attractions remain, drawing many tourists throughout the year.

One of these attractions is Nuchiuna, a salt factory located on a cliff along the southeastern coast. It is known for producing a special brand of salt called Nuchi-masu, which contains more minerals than average salt.

Visitors to the island can stop at the factory for a look at part of the process of making the special salt. Using four pumps and three tanks to draw water from the ocean, the company chose this location near a cliff where the factory sits specifically for the water below.

The fast-oceanic currents of the area, plus no residences nearby, means clean seawater essential for good salt-making. Once pumped up the cliff, the seawater is processed in a unique method where the water is nebulized before being dried and crystalized in the air, helping to preserve many of the salt’s minerals.

At the factory, visitors can see newly-made salt piled up like powdered snow, and sometimes even, a glimpse of factory employees painstakingly removing impure substances from the white salt.

Try the salt in dishes carefully seasoned with it at the factory’s restaurant, “Café Restaurant Takahanari.” The location serves up curry rice, salted pork, and soba noodles all made with Nuchi-masu.

And for a treat on a hot summer day, Nuchi-masu Salt Soft Cream (500 yen or about $4.60) is a good choice. Enjoy a cone and, from the restaurant’s terrace, a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean.

After the salt factory, take a short walk to Kafu Banta or “Happy Cliff.” From here, visitors are treated to more amazing views, specifically those of Nuchino Hama, a crescent moon-shaped beach below. Kafu Banta is also surrounded by rocks and caves in curious shapes. 

Follow the walking paths to explore the cliff.

Tonnaha, another beach in a secluded area, has many options for water activities like banana boat rides, jet skis, wakeboarding and more. Settle in for a barbecue lunch on the wooden decks.  The English menus available for both the food and the activities make it easy to spend a full day at the beach.

Although once a place of exile, Miyagi Island now blesses both locals and tourists alike with unique salt, stunning beauty, and fun adventure.

 

Nuchiuna
GPS Coordinates: N 26.360380, E 127.991004
Hours: 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. 
* Free Admission 
Website: www.nuchima-su.co.jp

Kafu Banta (Happy Cliff)
GPS Coordinates: N 26.360349, E 127.992037

Tonnaha Beach 
GPS Coordinates: N 26.378660, E 127.981936
Parking fee: 500 yen

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