Photos by Allie Whalen
Photos by Allie Whalen

My Paradise: A weekend on Iejima

by Allie Whalen
Stripes Okinawa

We made a day trip to Iejima and were instantly in love. The ferry ride from the Okinawa main island was an easy 30 minutes, and once you’re on the island, it is like a breath of fresh air (literally.) Iejima one of the most beautiful tropical islands in the Ryukyu Islands chain. We knew before we left that day from Iejima, we wanted to go back and spend more time exploring the things we didn’t get to on that day trip.

About a week before our trip (so last minute!), we booked a house on Airbnb. After we checked in, we immediately started exploring. Our first stop was at Family Mart (the island has two and a grocery store for all your needs) to grab dinner. We had planned on hiking up Mt. Gusuku before sunset to have a picnic dinner and watch the sunset over the East China Sea. It did not disappoint!

The hike was all stairs but don’t let that scare you. Our oldest two (ages 9 and 7) did it without a problem. My youngest (3) got a piggyback ride, but he still talks about wanting to hike it again. It was an amazing workout and we stayed at the top enjoying the view of the whole island. The 360-degree view was unreal.

On Saturday morning after a delicious Family Mart breakfast (really, the Family Mart there had delicious breakfast sandwiches), we did a little geocaching, which took us to the Ahasha Cave and then the Deer Fossil Digging Site. After, we all went down to GI Beach to spend a lazy afternoon playing in the water. GI Beach is the most beautiful beach we’ve been to around Okinawa so far. We even saw sea turtles swimming by while we were standing on the beach. We grabbed dinner at Ace Burger, where we all got something different from the menu, and it was all amazing. It was a full day,  but it didn’t feel overwhelming because the island has such a slow pace to it.

The next two days we explored places on the island that we hadn’t seen yet - the old WWII airstrip, the bombed out Public Pawnshop Ruins (also the only surviving building after WWII), the hibiscus farm, the sweets shop where they use locally grown peanuts and sugar cane to make the most amazing peanut brittle, a war memorial, the fresh water wajee, and fields upon fields of tobacco leaf. And, of course, another trip to the beach.

For such a small island, Iejima is full of beautiful places, history, agriculture and kind people. You can easily bike around the island if you choose to (highly recommended!). There are plenty of restaurants and places to get groceries and other supplies. We all want to go back again and are scheming up ways we can move there. The ferry prices are also reasonable for passengers and cars.

So, if you’ve got a free day or weekend, head on up to Nago, hop on the ferry to IE Island and enjoy your time on a pristine island that will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time!

 

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