Miyakoshima – sun, sand and sea
Our next stop in “6 unusual but fantastic places in Japan” is Miyakojima (宮古島). Miyakojima is an island roughly 300 km southwest of Okinawa island and 400 km east of Taiwan. Instead of the lush forests and relaxing onsen we talked about in our article about Yakushima, here you will find beautiful beaches and great snorkeling and diving spots.
Though the island has an abundance of sunlit beaches, each worthy of talking about, Maehama Beach and Sunuyama Beach are known as the best to visit. The former is located in the southwestern corner of the island and is ranked as one of the best beaches in Japan. Its white sand stretches 7 kilometers long and is ideal for watching the sunset.The latter of the two is a small beach 4 kilometers north of Hirara. At the bottom of a sand dune, you will find a view of clear blue waters, rocky formations and a large stone arch perfect for those that like some shade to their beach trip.
Lovers of diving and snorkeling should visit Yoshino Beach at the eastern corner of the island. It is said this beach has the highest concentration of colorful fish on the island. Just off the beach starts a large coral reef filled with marine life. A perfect spot for starting and veteran divers alike.
Other places to visit
Should you ever get tired of the sun, or you forgot your sun protection lotion there are still places to visit on Miyakoshima. The Miyakojima City Botanical Garden houses over 1600 tropical plants which you can discover on a leisurely stroll. If plants are not for you, maybe the Miyako Traditional Arts & Crafts Centre might pique your interest. On the second floor of this museum is a workshop where they still teach the traditional technique of minsa-weaving. Explores amongst us can rent a car and visit sites like the Tuyumya grave or Cape Higashi-Hennazaki, where a lone lighthouse awaits at the end of the 2 kilometer long peninsula. Finally they can also drive to three of the four smaller islands of Miyakojima connected by kilometers long bridges build over the sea.
How to get to Miyakojima
Since the Ferry services were discontinued in 2008 you can only get to Miyakoshima by plane from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, Osaka’s Kansai Airport, Naha Airport on Okinawa Main Island and a few smaller airports on the Ishigaki and Tarama islands. Most hotels and resorts provide shuttle bus services from and to the airport. To get around the island it is recommended to rent a car, scooter or bicycle.
This marks the end of our second unusual but fantastic place to visit in Japan. If you have any questions or remarks you can post them in the comments or send us a mail.