About 290 kilometers southwest of the main island of Okinawa, Miyako Island is loved by many people for its clear and beautiful waters. The island is shaped like a triangle, and because there are no mountains and rivers, no sediment flows into the island. The island is generally flat and the highest point is 115 m. Although there are no rivers, groundwater is abundant and there are many springs.
Overview of Miyako Island
The clear blue ocean is a popular diving spot, and the coastline is lined with scenic spots and beaches. It is ideal for leisure activities in the ocean as well as for driving. The average annual temperature is about 23 degrees Celsius, and even in the coldest season the temperature is around 18 degrees Celsius, making it the perfect location for a date in a convertible car. Although it is considered a subtropical oceanic climate, it is said to be equivalent to a tropical rainforest climate as far as averages are concerned.
Okinawa is home to habu, including the main island and the outlying islands. However, Miyako Island is the only one of the larger islands that is not inhabited by habu, and one of the reasons for this is that it has never been connected to the other islands by land. It is also home to endemic species such as the Miyako kanahebi. The islands of Ikema, Kuruma and Irabu are connected by bridges, especially the Irabu Bridge connecting Irabu Island, which is the longest toll-free bridge in Japan.
It is said that the island looks like a bird of prey flapping its wings, and although there are various theories as to the origin of the island’s name, it means “the island where I live. “According to a book made in 1605, Miyakojima was already mentioned in a 1371 entry, and it is clear that there was a leader who held Miyakojima together. It is clear that there was a leader who united Miyako Island.
History of Miyako Island
The earliest official record of Miyako Island is from 1317, the Kamakura period. However, it was not a history of Japan, but of a Chinese history book which states that the people living on Miyako Island drifted ashore. According to the history book, which is described as “Mimikako,” it is written that there were warring powerful clans in Miyako as well. The earliest Japanese records date back to 1365, during the Muromachi period (1336-1573). In 1390, Yonaha Sedo Toyomichika was granted an audience with the king of Ryukyu and officially took over Miyako.
In 1609, Satsuma (Kagoshima Prefecture) invaded and took control of the Ryukyus, and in 1637, a harsh tax system known as the “head tax” began, which caused great hardship for the islanders. When Japan proceeded with modernization, Ryukyu became Okinawa Prefecture and Miyako became a part of Okinawa Prefecture. As the Pacific War deepened, non-combatants were forced to evacuate to Miyazaki in Kyushu and Taiwan, and the island was scorched to the ground as houses on the island were burned to the ground due to daily air strikes and bombings.
The island’s connection to the continent
It is believed to have been connected to the Asian continent during the last ice age, when sea levels were lower than they are today, and fossilized human bones from about 26,000 years ago have been discovered.
Miyako Island in the Return to Japan
As Miyako Island is part of Okinawa Prefecture, it was ruled by the U.S. military until 1972 after the war, but with the reversion to Japan, the whole of Okinawa became a Japanese-style lifestyle, with the currency changing from the dollar to the yen and roads changing from right-hand to left-hand traffic, gradually shifting to the Japanese lifestyle of the time.
The color broadcasts by NHK were in the process of being changed to color.
NHK’s color broadcasting started in 1976, and it wasn’t until 1993, in the Heisei era, that people were able to watch commercial television. The convenience of mobile phones, which are commonplace today, came later than on the main island of Okinawa, as they became available in 1996.
Highest popularity ranking
The main features of Miyako Island are its beautiful sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. In particular, Yonaha Maehama Beach, known as the best beach in the East, won the TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice Award 2015 and is a highly popular spot. The whiteness of the beach and the blue of the sea and sky continue to impress viewers.
The most spectacular spots in Miyako Island!
Amazing! White sandy beaches and blue ocean and sky
It goes without saying that the sea of Miyako Island is beautiful and wonderful everywhere. However, the splendor of Yonaha Maehama Beach stands out, with its picture-perfect scenery, including the blue of the ocean that changes with the weather. It is also the beach where you can see the foreground view of the Kuruma Ohashi Bridge running through the sea, and it is one of the charms of Miyako Island that you can enjoy the feeling of an exquisite resort.
There’s so much to enjoy in the sea of Miyako, where you can meet Nemo ♡♡
What can be said about the sea of Miyako Island is its white sandy beaches. The sandy beach, where you can walk barefoot even in midsummer, is so beautiful that you will want to stay there forever. If you want to enjoy marine sports, Yonaha Maehama Beach is the place to go, and if you want to enjoy diving and snorkeling, Yaehigase, you can enjoy the beauty and fun of each spot depending on how you want to enjoy it.
For spectacular views of the ocean, this is the place to go!
Together with Yonaha Maehama Beach, Yaehigase is one of the two most famous beaches on Miyako Island. This one is more famous as a diving and snorkeling spot than for playing in the sea. Coral sea as far as the eye can see. You can fully enjoy the contact with colorful fishes and sea turtles. If you can afford to dive, I would like to try underwater photography as well, the view is spectacular.
Experience diving and enjoy the sea
It is no exaggeration to say that most visitors to Miyako Island come to enjoy the blue ocean. We want you to enjoy the enchanting sea with the island’s most popular marine activity. Our recommendation is the experience diving at Yaebise. If you want to fully enjoy the marine world, don’t hesitate to go to the coral reef sea. You can see colorful corals and tropical fishes, and professional divers will give you a detailed lecture even if you are a beginner. Yaebise is a group of coral reefs located about 16km north of Ikema Island, which is further north than the northernmost tip of Miyako Island, and there are 100 different types of coral reefs of various sizes scattered throughout the area.
It’s difficult to dive, but you can try diving in the reefs.
This is a shallow spot that can be enjoyed by those who find diving difficult but snorkeling is…well, snorkeling. Table corals and branch corals that you have only seen in aquariums and photographs are a common sight here. You can also see clownfish, snappers, and the cute little harpies that swell up when they get excited. If you sign up for the experience diving, you will be taken to the dive site by boat, and after enjoying lunch on the boat, you will be transferred to the dive site to start diving or snorkeling. If you are an experienced diver, you can visit caves and sandy spots between the island and Irabu Island. The Cross Hole, located northwest of Irabu Island, offers a mysterious sight of a rocky cave with light shining through.
Be an adventurer in a limestone cave
Experiencing limestone caves by sea kayak is another popular activity. The limestone caves are called “Ryugujo” in Miyako Island and are revered as a marine spot that will tickle your adventurous spirit. You can get off the kayak and swim to the entrance, which is only visible at low tide. As you listen to the guide’s explanation, you will see a series of strangely shaped limestone caves. The onion-shaped stalactites, called cave pearls, are a sight to behold! Enjoy this unique and mysterious experience.
For the sea kayaking experience, meet at Horakawa Beach, then board your kayak and head for the deserted beach. After enjoying snorkeling where you can see colorful tropical fish up close, all participants will have lunch together! After enjoying outdoor cooking under the blue sky while looking at the beautiful ocean, we finally depart for the limestone caves.
When the tour is over, you can go straight to the Hora River Beach to play. Surrounded by cliffs and greenery, the beach is a hole-in-the-wall spot and you can freely go to and from the paid swimming pool on the grounds of “Hora-sen Beach Park”. The 80-meter-long water slide is a thrilling experience. The admission ticket that includes three slider tickets is reasonably priced at 500 yen for high school students and older and 200 yen for junior high school students from 4 years old. The water in the pool is spring water, so you can enjoy the resort in comfort.
Activities without entering the water
If you’ve come to Miyako Island and you think you can’t enjoy yourself because you can’t swim, here are some marine activities that don’t require you to enter the water or wear a bathing suit!
Sea kayaking allows you to walk freely on the surface of the ocean if you paddle the oars under the guidance of our staff. You can choose between one-person and two-person kayaks, so you can enjoy walking on the sea surface with your friends, couples, or parents and children. A Sunset cruise is recommended for couples who want to feel romantic. The sunset on the horizon is romantic. Promise your everlasting love and it will be an unforgettable memory. If you want a refreshing cruise, the morning cruise is also available.
I want to see the blue ocean from the sky! If you want to see the blue ocean from above, you can’t miss parasailing. The boat pulls a parachute up to 80 meters into the air! The view of the ocean from a bird’s eye view is something you will never forget. You can either fly single-handed and have the ocean all to yourself, or you can share it with a dandem and have a great time on a remote island. Take a glass boat (underwater sightseeing boat) to explore the sea at Sea Sky Hakatai in the German Cultural Village. You can easily enjoy beautiful sights like a moving aquarium.
Everything is beautiful in Miyako Island blue
It would be no exaggeration to say that the greatest attraction of Miyako Island is all the seas surrounding the island. Every sea you see is beautiful and wonderful. Not only are there coral reefs and sandy beaches, but there are also rocky shores, and it can be said that the charm of Miyako Island is that you can enjoy a variety of different seas. After playing, you should prepare for the next day’s sea fun by tucking into the delicacies of Miyako Island.
The endless bridges
Not forgetting the Ikema Ohashi Bridge that stretches straight from Yonaha Maehama to Ikema Island, one of the Miyako Archipelago. Although it is a man-made structure floating in the great nature, the contrast with the nature may give you a strange sensation. Many people will say that the straight bridge, which is not only a simple means of transportation but also free of any unnecessary objects, looks like a road to heaven.
Gourmet food on Miyako Island
The Best Miyako Soba Noodles
The unique custom of hiding the ingredients under the noodles is called “Miyako soba”. This is a must-try dish for lunch or dinner. Whether or not the ingredients are hidden depends on the restaurant, but you must try this traditional soba with the flavor of the soup soaked into the ingredients at least once. Locals also like to add curry powder to their soba to give it a different flavor, and some restaurants even have curry powder on hand.
One of the restaurants serving old-fashioned soba is Maruyoshi Shokudo in the southern part of the island, which uses a pork bone broth that has been left to rest for two days, with a punch of garlic added as a secret ingredient. Underneath the soba is a layer of three pieces of meat and fish paste soaked in the broth. Some soba comes with a famous ice lolly as a free gift. It is a little bit far from Miyako Airport (more than 8km), but the restaurant is spacious and has tatami rooms. The price of 500 yen with an ice lolly is also attractive.
The “Kosa Soba Honten” in Hirara City is a long-established soba restaurant that has been in business for more than 70 years. It offers a wide variety of menus, from traditional soba to soba with different arrangements. Among them is the “Uyaki Soba,” which is made with Tebichi, Soki, Sansai meat and deep-fried fish paste that covers the noodles. Uyaki” means “rich” in the island dialect, and this luxurious dish lives up to its name.
Tropical fruits and sweets are what you should enjoy in this outstanding location. Miyako Island has a variety of “island cafes” in a peaceful atmosphere of sugar cane fields. Sukubari Terrace, a cafe in the eastern part of the island, boasts sweets made from home-grown mangoes that the owner, a mango farmer, has painstakingly produced. The mangoes used sparingly in their juices and parfaits are superb. The authentic mango pudding is also a must-try.
“Island Café Tunkara-ya” is very popular for its healthy cuisine using plenty of vegetables and its excellent location overlooking the ocean. The Okinawan red-tiled building is tasteful, and you can also pick up souvenirs at the general store on the premises.
Have a hot night at an izakaya!
If you want to enjoy Miyako Island at night, folk song taverns and bars are recommended. The Nishisato and Shimosato Odori area of Hirara Town is a night spot where the fun of the island is concentrated. Shimozato’s “Shimauta Gakuen Bunmyaa” and Higashinakasone’s “Minyo Live Izakaya Akagara” are folk song taverns where you can make friends with strangers you meet on your trip. Sing, dance and laugh as much as you can. You’ll also get a taste of the island’s home cooking that will make you want to come back the next day.
If you want to enjoy the “taste of mother” of the island, you can’t miss “Ofukuro-tei” in Nishizato. It is a long-established local restaurant that serves Miyako beef and classic dishes such as chanpuru. It is recommended for those who want to enjoy the local flavors while also having a drink. The omakase course, which can be enjoyed without a reservation, is a menu that focuses on island ingredients.
For those who want to spend a quiet tropical night, visit a bar. Hirara Town has many quiet bars and dining establishments that will cool you down after a hot night in Miyako. They are relatively concentrated in Nishizato, so you can choose the one that best suits your mood.
Miyako Island Access
Recommended souvenir information
If you come to Miyako Island, you’ll want to take some souvenirs and treat yourself. The best souvenirs are specialty foods made from fruits, which are also a specialty of the island. The fruit cake made from mangoes is a great tropical souvenir. Original cakes filled with juice paste and pulp, dragon fruit sauces that are delicious on yogurt or bread, jams and juices are also very popular. For your Balamaki, we also have tropical aroma candles of seersucker.
Reward yourself with luxury items only available on the island, such as tropical accessories and cosmetics made from coral. Natural soaps made with island honey and dragon fruit are safe for even the most sensitive skin. If you’re a connoisseur of alcohol, we also recommend the shoulder bag with a motif of a front hanging used in sake brewing, which can be used even after drinking.
Recommended hotels in Miyakojima
If you want to make your resort on Miyako Island the most memorable, you have to be particular about your choice of hotel! The most popular hotel on the island is the Miyakojima Tokyu Hotel & Resorts. Located right in front of Yonaha Maehama Beach, the hotel is the number one accommodation facility on the island, not only in terms of location, but also in terms of cleanliness and spaciousness of the guest rooms, food and service. There are plenty of rental goods for children and babies, and the service that minimizes the inconvenience of traveling while being a resort hotel is also a pleasure.
If you want to create a luxurious trip, we recommend the Shigira Bayside Suite Alamanda. This luxury hotel offers a gorgeous place to spend time while enjoying the tropical breeze. The hotel has sea turtles and you can feed them. You will be addicted to the time you spend while feeling the beautiful sea and air.
Access from Naha
To get to Miyako Island, you basically have to go to Naha from various places.
Access from Naha
To get to Miyako Island, you basically need to go to Naha from various places. Haneda and Fukuoka have the most flights, followed by Nagoya and Osaka. There is a direct flight from Haneda to Miyako Island, but only one flight a day, while there are about 20 flights a day from Naha to Miyako Island, so it is very convenient. If you can choose your seat, you should choose the window seat on the right side of the plane for the flight to Miyakojima and the left side for the return flight. You can enjoy the sea of Miyako from the beginning to the end with the best seat to see the islands surrounded by coral reefs.
There are also ferry services to Naha. Although there are only a few services a week, a relaxing boat trip is also recommended. It takes two full days from Tokyo or Kobe, and one full day even from Kagoshima. If you are not in a hurry, why don’t you consider taking a ferry? It is difficult to get around on foot or by rental bicycle because the island is so big. There are also buses, but they are infrequent, so if you want to move around the entire island freely, it is convenient to use a rental car that you can use without hesitation.
Miyako Island Tourism Association