Must Do’s On Miyakojima Island – Okinawa

miyako Okinawa

Miyako Island, or Miyakojima (宮古島) in Japanese, is a beautiful island located in Okinawa Prefecture of Japan. It is part of the Miyako Islands, a group of islands in the Pacific Ocean. The islands include: Ikema, Irabu, Kurima, Ogami, Shimoji, Minna and Tarama. Of these islands, Miyakojima is the largest and has the greatest number of inhabitants. 

Miyakojima is the perfect vacation if you are seeking some fun in the sun or a nice relaxing getaway. Because of its tropical climate, beautiful beaches and exciting water activities, it is best to visit Miyakojima Island during the summer season. Miyakojima is only accessible by airplane and has one airport, Miyako Airport. Direct flights are available from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport as well as Osaka’s Kansai Airport. If you are already in Okinawa, there are flights from Naha and other islands such as the popular Ishigaki. From Tokyo, the flight to Miyakojima Island is about 3 hours and the price range is between ¥11,000 and ¥45,000. Once you’re on the island, there are plenty of things to see and do. Below are some recommendations and activities that you may enjoy. Take a look and let’s start planning your next trip. 

1. Beaches (Yonaha Maehama Beach & Sunayama Beach)

If you’re looking to soak up some rays on a beautiful beach, you have come to the right place. Miyakojima Island boasts both Yonaha Maehama Beach and Sunayama Beach, some of Japan’s best and most beautiful beaches. With its white sand, stretching as far as the eye can see, Yonaha Maehama Beach (与那覇前浜ビーチ) has made Miyakojima Island the popular tourist destination that it is today. Though popular, this beach is so long that it is rarely crowded, making it the perfect spot to spend a relaxing afternoon swimming or sunbathing. Enjoy a midday swim and perhaps a nap on the beach. 

Sunayama Beach (砂山ビーチ) is another relaxing beach to spend an afternoon. The white sand and view of the big, blue ocean create the perfect atmosphere to relax. Additionally, the natural arch-shaped rocks give an artistic touch, making it an especially beautiful place to visit at sunset. Save this one for the evening just before dinner.

2. Snorkeling & Diving (Aragusuku Beach & Yoshino Kaigan Beach) 

If you’re seeking a bit more of an adventure, why not give snorkeling in the crystal clear waters of Miyakojima a try. There are two great beaches to enjoy an unforgettable snorkeling experience. Aragusuku Beach (新城海岸), with its shallow water, has become a popular spot for visitors who are looking to enjoy some sea bathing and snorkeling. Snorkeling here is great and you can catch a glimpse of some of the beautiful tropical fish who inhabit the area. The bright colors of the fish are sure to leave you with a deeper appreciation for the beauty found in nature. 

Adjacent to Aragusuku Beach is Yoshino Kaigan Beach (吉野海岸). Yoshino Kaigan Beach’s shallow waters lead out to an enormous coral reef that is home to many tropical fish. Sea turtles and their babies can also be seen here on occasion. Snorkeling here will provide hours of “oh” and “ah” moments and can be fun for all ages. In order to preserve this beautiful and natural element, guests are asked to mind their step so as not to damage the coral reef or its inhabitants. Please do your part to help protect this beautiful gift so that others can have the opportunity to enjoy it as well.   

Scuba

The clear blue waters of Miyakojima are also super suitable for scuba diving, with its underwater rock formations and caves and rich marine life. The best time to see the beautiful coral reefs of Yabiji on the north coast are only accessible from July to September, between typhoons.

3. Higashi Hennazaki 

On the southeastern point of Miyakojima Island is Higashi Hennazaki (東平安名崎), a nationally designated Place of Scenic Beauty. There is a lighthouse here that was established long ago to help protect the ships passing by. Visitors are allowed to enter the lighthouse and climb to the top. The view here allows you to look out over the ocean from many directions and it is an incredibly popular place to watch the sun rise. It would also be great for a sunset, depending on your schedule. 

4. Irabu Ohashi 

Irabu Ohashi (伊良部大橋) is a 3,540​m bridge that connects the northwest part of Miyakojima Island to the neighboring Irabu Island. This is the longest free bridge in all of Japan which is also free to cross. You can drive across if you have access to a car. Renting a car in Japan, especially in Miyakojima, may be a good idea as it will give you a lot more freedom and flexibility and the roads of Japan are easy to drive and navigate. Alternatively, you can walk along the bridge while enjoying the views of the ocean and the sky as they meet where the bridge stands. This is also a great spot to watch a sunset. 

5. Miyakojima cuisine 

Ah, the best part of traveling, or at least this is our favorite part: sampling the local food options is a must when visiting somewhere new to really immerse yourself in your new environment. When you’re on Miyakojima Island you must be sure to try mangoes. They can be seen everywhere and have a slightly sweet taste. For a more hearty meal you can try a hamburger made with Miyako-beef, or for the seafood lover, some coconut crab. Miyako has many options and sports many familiar dishes that are considered popular beach food.

6. Miyakojima City Botanical Garden 

After your stomach is nice and full, you can head over to the Miyakojima City Botanical Garden (宮古島市熱帯植物園). Here you can see more than 1,600 different species of plants and more than 40,000 types of trees. This garden is a short 10-minute drive from the Miyako Airport and admission is free. The garden has nine different areas, each offering a unique experience. There is an observation deck to watch birds and a craft village that includes woodworking, horseback riding and some local food options. The park has an overall ambience to it that really allows you to soak in the sounds of nature. It’s a great way to end a trip before heading to the airport to depart from Okinawa. 

Now that you’ve heard about many of the great things there are to see and do on Miyakojima Island, it’s time to go exploring. If you haven’t already, make sure you submit that vacation time from work and buy a new swimsuit. The best summer to visit Miyakojima is from May to September, but make sure to check the weather forecast before departure as an occasional typhoon hits the island at the end of summer. Miyakojima is connected to neighboring islands by bridges, and while it is easy to tour the other islands, especially with a rental car, there are many places to visit on this island as well. We recommend to stay at the island at least for two nights, this way you will also be able to enjoy some of the best sunrises and sunsets from different places. Let’s make it a memorable one with unique experiences you can only get when visiting Miyakojima Island!

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Trevor Jones is an educator and an aspiring marketer. Originally from the United States, he moved to Tokyo in 2017. Trevor enjoys exploring new destinations and sharing his experiences. He can be found on Instagram at @tjones312

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