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7 Things To Do On The Beautiful Island Of Miyakojima, Okinawa
  • 7 Things To Do On The Beautiful Island Of Miyakojima, Okinawa

7 Things To Do On The Beautiful Island Of Miyakojima, Okinawa

Okinawa 2018.07.05

Miyakojima is a popular sightseeing destination in Okinawa, an outer island in the Ryukyu Islands. Read this article and plan your trip to this southern paradise. We introduce Miyakojima's sandy beaches, recreational activities and local gourmet cuisine.

Translated by Shinji Takaramura

Written by Sarasa Suzuki

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Discover a Southern Paradise at Miyakojima

Miyakojima (Miyako Island) is located approximately 300 kilometers southwest of the main island of Okinawa, about a one-hour flight away. It is connected to four islands (Ikemajima, Kurumajima, Irabujima and Shimojijima) by bridges, and along with Taramajima and Ohgamijima, belong to the Miyako Islands.

Since there are no rivers running into the ocean on this flat island, the surrounding waters are very clear, boasting the highest transparency in Okinawa Prefecture, and divers from all over the world come to Miyakojima.

This article introduces the seven activities you can enjoy on Miyakojima related to beaches, cuisine, and culture.

1. Relax on Unique Beaches

Yonaha Maehama Beach

沖縄離島で1番人気!宮古島でやりたい7個のこと

Picture courtesy of Miyakojima Library

This is the most famous beach in Miyakojima, where the white sand stretches for seven kilometers. The ocean is colored in a gradation of emerald blue, mesmerizing visitors with its beauty.

Visitors can also view the Kuruma Ohashi, a bridge which connects Miyakojima to Kurumajima.

Yonaha Maehama Beach
Address: Okinawa, Miyakojima, Shomoji Yonaha 1199/Google Map
Access: Fifteen minutes by car from Miyako Airport.

Sunayama Beach

沖縄離島で1番人気!宮古島でやりたい7個のこと

Picture courtesy of Miyakojima Library

This cozy, quiet beach has become popular thanks to a strange-shaped rock. The rock, which forms an arch, frames the beautiful ocean.

The beach is also known for its gorgeous sunset view. The sight of the rock shining red at twilight is truly mystical!

Sunayama Beach
Address: Okinawa, Miyakojima, Hirara Nikadori 705/GoogleMap
Access: Twenty minutes by car from Miyako Airport.

2. Encounter Diverse and Colorful Fish while Snorkeling

Aragusuku Beach

沖縄離島で1番人気!宮古島でやりたい7個のこと

Photograph courtesy of Miyakojima Library

A must-try when in Miyakojima is snorkeling. At Aragusuku Beach, located on the east side of the island, various tropical fishes like anemone fìsh welcome the swimmers.

This is a gently shelving, shallow beach suitable for visitors coming with children. The beach provides lockers and shower rooms available for free use, along with a rental service for masks and flippers.

Aragusuku Beach
Address: Okinawa, Miyakojima, Gusukube Aragusuku/GoogleMap
Access: Thirty minutes by car from Miyako Airport.

Yoshino Beach

沖縄離島で1番人気!宮古島でやりたい7個のこと

Picture courtesy of Miyakojima Library

Yoshino Beach, located near Aragusuku Beach, is another snorkeling spot. You can also see a close-by huge coral reef here.

This beach is also well known as a nesting ground of sea turtles, and turtles can be seen swimming at high tide. They are very sensitive creatures, so please do not chase them.

Yoshino Beach
Address: Okinawa, Miyakojima, Gusukube Yoshino/GoogleMap
Access: Thirty minutes by car from Miyako Airport.

3. Marvel at Scenic Spots

Higashi Hennazaki

沖縄離島で1番人気!宮古島でやりたい7個のこと

Photograph courtesy of Miyakojima Library

Higashi Hennazaki, which stretches for two kilometers, is a beautiful cape located at the southeastern tip of Miyakojima. In 2007, it was registered as a meisho (*1) by the Japanese government.

The emerald blue ocean, verdant cape and the white lighthouse create a magnificent sight. Even the Ryukyu limestone (*2), which dots the area, is one of its highlights. At night, the cape turns into a great spot for stargazing.

*1 Meisho: A place of scenic beauty, also regarded as a spot possessing a high, artistic value.
*2 Ryukyu limestone: A sedimentary rock, composed of skeletal fragments of coral and seashells. People in Okinawa have used this stone for ramparts.

Higashi Hennazaki
Address: Okinawa, Miyakojima, Gusukube Bora/GoogleMap
Access: 35 minutes by car from Miyako Airport.

Irabu Ohashi

沖縄離島で1番人気!宮古島でやりたい7個のこと

Picture courtesy of Miyakojima Library

This is the longest toll-free bridge in Japan. It connects Miyakojima and Irabujima, stretching for 3540 meters, drawing a gentle curve. The length of the bridge can also be read as "san (3) go (5) no shi (4) ma," meaning coral island in Japanese.

Irabu Ohashi
Address: Okinawa, Miyakojima, Hirara Kugai/GoogleMap
Access: Fifteen minutes by car from Miyako Airport.

17 End

沖縄離島で1番人気!宮古島でやりたい7個のこと

The beach on the west side of Shimojijima Airport is also known as 17 End. You can set foot on the white sand that appears at low tide during spring tide. However, be careful, as you will have walk over tetrapods.

17 End
Address: Okinawa, Miyakojima, Irabu Sawada 1739/GoogleMap
Access: Forty minutes by car from Miyako Airport.

4. Taste Miyakojima Cuisine

沖縄離島で1番人気!宮古島でやりたい7個のこと

Photograph courtesy of Miyakojima Library

Miyako soba is one of the island cuisines. It is made with thin, straight noodles, and is different from Okinawa soba. There is also another variety of soba called "gugakre," which contains pork ribs and kamaboko hidden under the noodles.

Another well-known food is yushi dofu, a soft, non-pressed type of tofu. It is regularly used in set meals or soba, so it is easy for visitors to try.

This type of tofu is sometimes made by using seawater instead of nigari (bittern), thanks to the clean seawater surrounding the island. If you have the chance, give it a try.

As Miyako beef, the brand-name cattle of the island, is very scarce, visitors can taste this beef only on Miyakojima or on Okinawa. The beef tastes sweet and is filled with umami, a delicious savory flavor.

5. Purchase Local Souvenirs

沖縄離島で1番人気!宮古島でやりたい7個のこと

Picture courtesy of Miyakojima Library

Awamori, mango and salt are the three most popular souvenirs of Miyakojima.

Awamori is a traditional Japanese sake brewed in Okinawa. The awamori, created with water from Miyakojima, is rich in minerals and calcium. There are six breweries on the island, including the famous Kikunotsuyu Sake Brewery. If you have the chance, try "koose," a fully-matured awamori with a mellow fragrance and a mild taste.

Miyakojima produces the most mangoes in Japan, so mangoes here can be bought here inexpensively. Keitt mango, the rarest of mangoes, is quite large, and has a deep, addictively sweet taste.

Yukisio is a very smooth, sand-like textured salt, made only with the pure seawater of Miyakojima. It goes well with a variety of dishes. There are small-sized packages of Yukisio, perfect for those who have to buy a large number of souvenirs.

6. View Countless Plants at Miyakojima City Botanical Garden

沖縄離島で1番人気!宮古島でやりたい7個のこと

Picture courtesy of Miyakojima Library

It is a ten-minute car ride from Miyako Airport to this botanical garden, where visitors can enjoy viewing approximately 1600 types of plants. Miyakojima City Botanical Garden is the largest of its kind in Miyakojima, spanning over 120000 square meters, and also helping preserve the natural environment of the island.

沖縄離島で1番人気!宮古島でやりたい7個のこと

Picture courtesy of Miyakojima Library

At this garden, tropical flowers such as hibiscus, plumeria and bougainvillea, along with fruits (papaya, dragon fruit) and trees (royal palm, sago palm) welcome visitors throughout the year.

Visitors can stroll through this garden, as there are four walking routes, ranging from one to four kilometers, respectively.

Miyakojima City Botanical Garden
Address: Okinawa, Miyakojima, Hirara Higashi-Nakasone Nezoe 1166-286/GoogleMap
Access: Ten minutes by car from Miyako Airport.
Official Site: Miyakojima City Botanical Garden

7. Discover Island Culture at Miyakojima Sanshin Kobo

日本一のビーチに行ける!宮古島でやりたい7つのこと

Picture courtesy of Miyakojima Sanshin Kobo

At Miyakojima Sanshin Kobo, visitors dress in ryuso (traditional garments of Ryukyu), and have photographs taken on their own cameras. The gorgeous dress and hat will transform you back to time of the Ryukyu Kingdom (*3).

If the weather is sunny, you can have a photo session taken in the lush garden. Dressing up costs 2000 yen per person (note that only cash is accepted), and a group of four women (or two men) can be dressed at the same time. Only two groups are allowed per day and a reservation is required. The time slot for visitors from abroad is 14:00 to 16:00. The largest dress will fit a person 185 centimeters tall.

There are izakayas (Japanese bars) with live performances of Miyakojima folk songs at the Hirara district located nearby, where customers can dance the kachasi, an Okinawan-style dance, accompanied by music from a sanshin (*4).

*3 Ryukyu Kingdom: A dynasty that ruled Okinawa from 1429 to 1879.
*4 Sanshin: A three-stringed instrument of the Okinawa and Amami islands, similar to a shamisen.

Miyakojima Sanshin Kobo
Address: Okinawa, Miyakojima, Hirara Nishi-Nakasone 209-1/GoogleMap
Access: Fifteen minutes by car from Miyako Airport.
Closed on: Tuesdays
Official Site: Miyakojima Sanshin Kobo (Japanese)

Stay at Least Two Nights at Miyakojima

沖縄離島で1番人気!宮古島でやりたい7個のこと

Picture courtesy of Miyakojima Library

Miyakojima is connected to four islands by bridges, and while it is easy to tour the other islands, there are many places to visit on this island as well. At many of these spots you can enjoy the sunrise or sunset, so we suggest visitors should stay at least two nights.

We recommend a route covering sightseeing spots on the first day and snorkeling on the second day. Enjoy the relaxed and slow flow of time Time flows slowly on this island.

Summer is the Best Season for a Visit

沖縄離島で1番人気!宮古島でやりたい7個のこと

Picture courtesy of Miyakojima Library

Those coming to Miyakojima will definitely want to enjoy its beaches! The swimming season here is from mid-May to September. The radiant sunlight will make the beaches shine, with the surrounding landscape adding to the beauty of the scene.

However, temperatures here rise to 32 degrees Celsius with harsh UV rays, so don't forget to bring hats, sunglasses and sunscreen. If you plan to go swimming, wear a UV-resistant lotion to prevent sunburn and heatstroke.

The typhoon season arrives at August and September, so be sure to check the weather forecast.

Access to Miyakojima

沖縄離島で1番人気!宮古島でやりたい7個のこと

Picture courtesy of Miyakojima Library

From Tokyo

The flight from Haneda Airport takes about three hours. There are two direct flights every day, and the one-way fare ranges from 10000 to 40000 yen.

From Osaka

The flight from Kansai International Airport takes about two-and-a-half hours. There is only one direct flight every day, and the one-way fare ranges from 10000 to 30000 yen.

From Naha

The flight from Naha Airport takes about 45 minutes. There are more than ten direct flights every day, and the one-way fare ranges from 4000 to 10000 yen.

All airlines offer discount prices with an early reservation, so it would be wise to plan in advance.

Using a Rental Car for Transportation

レンタカー

From All You Need To Know About Renting A Car In Japan

There are few buses in Miyakojima. Most of them are for the local residents and rarely go to the sightseeing spots, so we suggest using a rental car.

Choose a rental agency that has an office at the Miyako Airport, and a free chauffeur service to the parking lot. There are also rental bike services, but be careful in the heat.

Miyakojima has a flat landscape, so a rental cycle is another option. Some hotels and guesthouses offer rental cycle services.

Also available is a sightseeing taxi, which will take the tourists to various sightseeing spots. The fare is about 15000 yen per taxi, for four hours. It would cost about 3800 yen per person for a group of four.

Keep Miyakojima Beautiful

沖縄離島で1番人気!宮古島でやりたい7個のこと

Picture courtesy of Miyakojima Library

Recently the number of coral reefs and marine creatures living in the beautiful ocean surrounding Miyakojima has been in rapid decline.

Please keep in mind not to stand on top of a coral reef, choose an ecologically friendly sunscreen and don't leave your litter behind. It will go a long way towards preserving the environment.

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