Sightseeing Magical Miyako Island R and R Vacation

Articles on great sightseeing spots in Okinawa

Miyako Island​

A view of Miyako Island from the airplane landing

Miyako Island is a hidden gem in the southern Ryuku island chain. It is only about 60 square miles and has a population of around 46,000. It is easy to get to (a short 50-minute flight from Naha Airport in Okinawa) and is a very affordable vacation spot with inexpensive rental cars (reserve ahead of time especially if you’re going during a Japanese holiday) and lots of places to stay along the coastline from 5-star luxury resorts to low-cost condos.

A beautiful view of Miyako's Yonaha Beach and its white stand meeting the clear water

Yonaha Beach​

Once settled it’s time to start exploring! There are so many beautiful beaches here and each has its own charm. The 4-star hotel I stayed at had Yonaha Beach, the number one rated Miyako beach, in its backyard. This beach has fine white sand as far as the eye can see with sparkling aquamarine water, a clear view of the Kurima Bridge, and lots of rental water sports equipment scattered along the shoreline.

The pathway leading to Sunayama Beach on Miyako Island A rock formation found on the shores of Sunayama Beach

Sunayama Beach​

My favorite beach was Sunayama Beach. Park in the free lot (with bathrooms and vending machines), then follow a little sand trail flanked by tropical foliage to a stunning, jaw-droppingly beautiful view of the East China Sea and a soft white sand beach. A rock arch covered in tropical greenery frames the perfect view of the peaceful turquoise water. There is now a fence and rope blocking it off from tourists (since a rock falling on your head could seriously ruin your vacation). Not to worry though because the rest of the beach is wide open.

Irabu Bridge​

Irabu Bridge linking Miyako to Irabu Island

While you are here take a drive over the longest bridge in Japan with no toll. Irabu Bridge is 3,540 meters and connects Miyako to Irabu island. There’s a great lookout point and little tourist shops immediately to the right when you arrive in Irabu where you can capture great pictures of the bridge and the tropical blue sea.

A visit to Imugya Marine Garden​

The surrounding waters on Irabu Island

If you love diving then Irabu is your spot! It is known for spectacular diving with shipwrecks, caves, and of course gorgeous tropical fish. For those who prefer to stay on land, the beaches here will not disappoint. There is Toguchinohama Beach for swimming and Sawadanohama Beach for a unique beach scattered with rocks. For a bird’s eye view of your surroundings, there is an observation deck in the middle of the island with views of the lush green landscape and sparkling tropical sea.

A cow statue on Miyako Island Imugya Marine Garden view

Wanting a change from beaches, I decided to explore Imugya Marine Garden, a verdant seaside trail built along the water with safe swimming and snorkeling spots protected from the sea, bridges, lush tropical plants, lots of stairs, a mildly annoyed-looking Miyako cow sculpture, and stunning views of the crystal blue ocean and reef below. There’s a very small parking area with bathrooms, vending machines, and showers.

Cape Higashi-Hennazaki​

Cape Higashi-Hennazaki on Miyako Island

At the end of the day what better way to wrap up your adventures than to find the perfect setting to watch the sunset? Cape Higashi-Hennazaki is a popular spot during the day but is even more spectacular when the sun sinks into the sea. It is listed as one of the top 100 scenic spots in Japan. Here you’ll find a couple of windmills, a rocky peninsula with crashing waves, tropical greenery, a lighthouse, and a shrimp bus where you can grab a tasty lunch or dinner while watching the waves. Parking is free and there are restrooms and vending machines nearby.

A reminder to be safe...​

Stoic-looking police statue on Miyako Island

The most quirky thing in Miyako was the Mamoru-kun statues (picture a vaguely creepy, pale, and stoic police officer) on various roads. He’s sort of like a scarecrow for drivers, intended to keep the roads safe with the reminder that he is watching. I caught myself slowing down each time I saw one, so apparently, it works!

I can’t believe it took me 16 years to finally get to Miyako. I’ve been telling everyone I know in Okinawa about Miyako island so they don’t make the same mistake of waiting to go. I was VERY motivated to find all the beautiful beaches I but with only 2 ½ days I wasn’t able to get to even a quarter of them all. The beauty of it is that I have even more reasons to return to this magical little island to visit!
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About Author
Christine Okinawa
Christine Bruce is a California girl who fell in love with Okinawa, Japan and stayed (16 years and counting). She is a world traveler, a writer, a therapist, and a dog mom to a rescue pup named Picky Princess Pickles. Her travel blog can be found at traveleatrinserepeat.com.

Comments

One neat thing that I saw in the newspaper recently was that you can get fresh mango from vending machines on Miyako Island!

Fresh mango served from a vending machine on Miyako Island

Source: とれたてマンゴーの自販機が登場 沖縄一の収穫量を誇る宮古島に ヤギ汁も販売 気になる値段は?  | 沖縄タイムス+プラス ニュース | 沖縄タイムス+プラス

If travel really isn't your thing and you're just on the search for quirky vending machines in Okinawa, you can still get mango from a vending machine located at this pin in Naha. Don't expect the mango to be fresh though as it apparently serves up frozen mango instead.

Frozen mango from a vending machine in Naha, Okinawa, Japan.
 

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