Miyako Islands, Okinawa, Japan (with Map & Photos)

Miyako Islands Okinawa Japan
Miyako Islands Okinawa Japan

has more than 100 islands that extend in a huge arc from the southern part of Kyushu to almost Taiwan. Ryukyu's independent kingdom existed on these islands until the 17th century, and the traces of this peculiar culture are still alive in Okinawa. But the real tourist attraction of Okinawa Prefecture is its small islands. Here you can easily find the cleanest white sand beaches in Japan, the best places for interesting diving, especially in the region of the subtropical Miyako Islands.

Miyako Islands, Okinawa, Japan - Three hundred kilometers from Okinawa Honto (main island of Okinawa) Japan, is a link in the island chain - the eight Miyako islands located around Miyako-jima, the largest and most interesting island in this group. In late April, a large number of athletes can be seen in Miyako for the all-Japanese triathlon competition, which includes three sports: running, swimming and cycling. In July, the island's main festival, Miyako Matsuri, is held here for three days. 

Miyako Islands Okinawa Japan 2
Miyako Islands Okinawa Japan

But above all, tourists are attracted here by tranquil white sand beaches and coastal landscapes. For those who are afraid of snakes, it will be nice to know that Miyako is the only place in Okinawa where no poisonous snakes are found - all snakes disappeared from this island in prehistoric times, when these islands were underwater. However, Miyako Island is very flat and large to have the charm of an uninhabited island such as Taketomi or Iriomote, islands further south in the Yaeyama archipelago.

Miyako Islands Okinawa Japan 3
Miyako Islands Okinawa Japan

The triangular Miyako Islands, slightly sloping, extends for 35 km. and is known for its extensive sugarcane plantations and salt production. The main city on Miyako Islands Okinawa - Hirara - is located on the northwest coast of the island. The flat terrain makes it easy to travel around the island by bicycle, but due to the heat it is better to rent a motorcycle, as there are few public buses and very long intervals. In the Hirara area, called Izato, there is an ATM for withdrawing money.

All the sights of Hirara can be easily seen in 1 hour: to the north of Miyako port, on the coastal road, is Fukeiseki - a five-foot-high fragment with cracks. It recalls the heavy extortions during the Shimazu clan's reign in Okinawa, Japan. Every person taller than this stone was taxed. In addition, on the same road, a small shrine for Harumizu Utaki lurked in the green.
Miyako Islands Okinawa Japan 4
Miyako Islands Okinawa Japan

Climbing the mountain, you will arrive at the center of traditional arts and crafts in Miyako, where you can see firsthand how delicate Miyako-zofu fabrics are made, considered the most important cultural property. Hirara has a windswept Hakuai monument, presented to the city by Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm in 1878 as a token of gratitude for the rescue by sailors' islets of a German ship caught in a typhoon near Miyako in July 1873. 

Miyako Islands, Okinawa, Japan - You can also learn more about this important event in the history of Miyako's international relations in the German cultural village on the south coast of the island, which is a bit like Disneyland. It was here that eight German sailors were rescued during the Robertson wreck. This theme park is dominated by a replica of the German castle in Marksburg, which houses a museum dedicated to the history of Miyako's ties with Germany. Even so, the main attraction of the village is the shop, which sells several varieties of real German beer. The rock restaurant next to the museum offers a cheap fixed menu for 1,000 yen.

Miyako Islands Okinawa Japan 5
Miyako Islands Okinawa Japan

There is a city beach in Hirara - Painagama, located near the port, but it clearly loses to other beaches on the island, namely Maehame - 10 km away. from Hirara. This long, very clean stretch of fine white sand is one of the three best beaches in Japan. Most of it belongs to the luxurious Miyakojima Tokyu Resort. The next noteworthy beach is Boraga. It is a great place for diving and snorkeling. Adequate equipment is offered at the beach complex, which has a freshwater pool.

2 km. further on is the Higashi Henna-zaki Peninsula, famous for its vibrant wildflowers and excellent panoramic views. Of course, it is worth visiting the lighthouse located at the very tip of the cape.
Miyako Islands Okinawa Japan 6
Miyako Islands Okinawa Japan

Traveling along the island's east coast to the tranquil beaches of Yoshino and Aragusuki, take the opportunity to dive among the corals and a huge variety of colorful fish.

In the north of Miyako Islands Okinawa Japan, there is a bridge that connects Miyako with the small islet of Ikema with its own fishing port, deserted beaches and coral reefs, including the great Yaebishi Reef, which emerges from the water every year at low tide.

Okinawa travel guides advise you to visit the Miyako archipelago for at least three days to fully consider not only the beauty of the blue sea and Miyako's coral reefs, but also, if possible, visit the local exotic music festivals "Paantu" and "Kuichaa", which take place only in this region of Okinawa.

Miyako Islands Map