Miyako-jima: 宮古島

We just took a short weekend trip to Miyako-jima, one of the southern islands in Okinawa prefecture. You must fly (cannot take a ferry to Miyako-jima), but luckily it is a short 50 minute flight. When you get there, it is highly recommended that you rent a car, or at least a scooter, since the island is decently big (compared to some of the others in Okinawa).

There are a few things to “sight-see” on Miyako-jima, but really it is all about the diving, swimming, and snorkeling. Beautiful beaches are plentiful, and many of them have snorkeling spots (although these are mostly for novices, avid snorkelers will want to take a boat tour to some of the more spectacular reefs).

We stayed at a quiet AirBnB on Kurima-jima, which is connected to Miyako-jima by a bridge. There are other islands also connected to Miyako-jima by bridge: Ikema-jima and Irabu-jima/Shimoji-jima.

Miyako-jima is known for mango– so of course I indulged at every opportunity! We had mango smoothies from some cafes, fresh mango juice from a farm, and anything else mango I could find.

We ate dinner the first night at a great Italian spot near the main city area. It was called ADish. We had pizza, pasta, salad, crostini, and wine. We sat at the counter, but reservations are recommended for this place. We were too busy eating to take photos unfortunately. When we returned, we bought some cans of  Orion and sat outside, gazing at the milky way and millions of stars, listening to the insects.

The second night, we decided to try the local place by the AirBnB house. So we walked down the road to Hanafuu 花風, which is some shipping containers converted into a small restaurant. The menu was written on fans on the wall; we started with some Orion draft beers. The owner was happy to see us, and we chatted a bit in Japanese. She gave us some yakiimo (baked sweet potato) that was grown in Miyako-jima and a hair tie with bingata print on it. We ordered another round, as well as goya chanpuru and salt yakisoba. At this point, a few more customers started to arrive (most of them it seemed like this place was their second home). So we ended up also chatting with some of them. She ended up giving us a few extra side dishes for free, and everything we tasted was amazing. After a few more rounds of beer, the owner was convinced to break out her sanshin to play and sing for us. In this small place, we were truly able to feel the kindness and vivacity of the Miyako-jima people. Finally we were tired, settled the bill, said our goodbyes and headed out. We were greeted with the millions of stars in the dark sky, surrounded by rustling sugarcane fields.

Overall, it was a fabulous trip, with great food, friendly people, nice beaches and gorgeous views.

full album of random pictures: here