Nearby Ie Island offers idealic escape

Nearby Ie Island offers idealic escape

by Mandy Bartok
Stripes Okinawa Archives

If you’re looking for an exciting day trip or relaxing weekend, head for the tiny island of Ie off the coast of Nago. Nicknamed the island of flowers and sunsets, Ie draws visitors to its shores with beautiful scenery and historic sites.

Ie is a half-hour ferry ride from Motobu Port, just north of Nago. Cars are allowed for those looking to explore the islet on four wheels or visitors can rent a vehicle at Ie Port. Less than 25 square kilometers in circumference and fairly level, Ie is also easily explored by bicycle. They can be rented behind the main port building.

You can get a good lay of the land with a hike up prominent Mt. Gusuku, the only peak and a landmark visible from anywhere on island. A short but strenuous 15-minute hike leads to this oddly-shaped mountain’s summit. On clear days, the mainland and outlying islands are visible on the horizon.

Ie played an important role in the Pacific War. Several monuments on the island pay tribute to those who were caught up in this brutal conflict. Just up from the port, a lone pillar bears witness to the site where famed American war correspondent Ernie Pyle was shot and killed.

Pyle’s accurate reporting and folksy style made him one of the most widely-read correspondents of World War II. Soldiers of the 77th Infantry Unit erected a monument to honor their fallen friend.

A short distance down the road, visitors can explore the sandy chambers of the Niya Thiya Cave. Buffeted by the tides, the cave once functioned as a shelter for islanders during the Battle of Okinawa. Its legendary rock may have an appeal to women – those that lift it are said to bear children soon after.

For stunning natural scenery, head to the northern half of the island where sheer cliffs tower over turquoise surf. Wajee Point offers the best views and those looking for an aquatic adventure can snorkel or dive next to the cliffs during low tide.

Nearby, renowned Lily Field Park showcases over 1 million blooms in the spring. Though flowers grow here year round, it’s worth a return trip in April or May to see the fields blanketed in snowy white petals.

If your weekend plans include a bit of romance, book a room at the elegant YYY Club Ie Resort. There’s no shortage of ways to spend your time – jet ski, scuba dive, bodysurf or simply lounge around by the pool. When you’ve had enough fun, relax in the comfort of your room and soak in the breezes and stellar ocean views from the seafront balcony.

Ie is the perfect day trip but with stunning scenery, deserted beaches and a range of things to see and do. You may find yourself succumbing to the island’s charms and staying longer than originally planned.

Popular spots in Ie Island

  • Mount Gusuku (Tatchuu): It is about 1.5 km north of Ie Port.Destroyed Public pawn-shop: Built in 1929 and destroyed in the 1945 Battle of Okinawa, the ruins at the southern foot of Mount Gusuku.
  • Ie Beach: A pristine 3-mile streach of white sand, the island’s southeastern coast.
  • Lily Field Park: A million lilies in a park near the north coast. The Lily Festival is held in late April annualy.
  • Wajii: More than 60-meter-high clifts along the northwest coast.Nyatiya: A cave about 7 miles west of the port that was used as a wartime bomb shelter with a “lucky” stone said to help women fertile.
  • Ernie Pyle Memorial: A memorial service is held there in mid-April every year.

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