Sunny Moments in the Island of Endless Blue

9:00 Depart from Hirara Port

Boasting superb natural beauty, the Miyako Islands are famous for the spectacular colors of their crystal-clear waters, ranging from azure to emerald green and often referred to as “Miyako Blue.” The laid-back atmosphere unique to remote islands and an incredible array of scenic locations make them an ideal destination to tour around with your loved one. Depart from Hirara Port on Miyako Island and head to the neighboring Kurima Island to discover the gems that the place has to offer, from savoring tropical fruits to exploring its cultural sides.

↓ About 25 minutes by taxi

9:25 Ryugu Castle Observatory (about 40 minutes)

The small yet charming island of Kurima is connected to Miyako Island by the Kurima Ohashi Bridge, a 1,690-meter road stretching over the shiny Miyako Blue waters, and on your way to your first stop of the day, you will be welcomed by stunning views on both sides. Situated on a hill, the three-story Ryugu Castle Observatory boasts one of the greatest vistas in the area. Built to emulate the Ryugu Castle, the legendary underwater palace depicted in Japanese and Chinese myths, the building itself is a picture-worthy sight. Take in the breathtaking view of the endless blue ocean and the bright white sand of the Yonaha Maehama Beach spreading in front of you. Watching the waves gently come and go with your special one by your side will be a moment you will never want to forget.

↓ About 5 minutes by walk

10:20 Kurima-ga(Historic Wells) (about 30 minutes)

After admiring picturesque views, how about a detour into Kurima Island’s history? Make a stop at the Kurima-ga to get a glimpse of how life on the island used to be. Made up of upthrust coral reefs, Kurima Island has no mountains and rivers and before the modern water supply system started in 1975 people used to use groundwater for their daily needs. A set of old wells (“ga” is the local word for well or spring), Kurima-ga was the only water source in the area, which locals still cherish as a sacred spot and as the island’s “spring of life.” Here, you can see three consecutive wells: the first was for drinking, the second for bathing, and the third for laundry. Observe the ingenious way the water flowed from the first well through the third, and then into the sea, to make the most of the limited supply. Look up at the cliff right behind the wells and note the steep stone steps that people from the village climbed every day just to get water. You will get a more vivid sense of the past than any history book.

↓ About 5 minutes by walk

10:55 Rakuen no Kajitsu (Fruits from Paradise) (about 1 hour)

Now it is finally time for a delicious lunch and a refreshing dessert! Featuring cozy and stylish decorations and Okinawa’s traditional red-tile roofs, Rakuen no Kajitsu is a cafe filled with a warm, oriental ambiance, where you can savor tasty dishes made with quality local ingredients from Kurima and the surrounding islands. Since the peak season for tropical fruits is from mid-June to September, you can relish fresh-picked produce at its best if you visit during summer. The most popular summer special is the mango parfait prepared with a whole, fully-ripe mango for each serve. Try the Miyako-bred beef served in steak rice bowls and hamburger steaks for a flavorful and hearty lunch. If you have a small appetite, a few scoops of gelato or a cup of fruit juice will add a perfect bit of sweetness to your trip. On sunny days, eating on the terrace will be an amazing opportunity to relax and enjoy Okinawa’s beautiful weather. Before you leave, do not forget to stop by the shop next door. From homemade baked goods and tropical fruit jams to T-shirts and cute knickknacks like Shisa guardian lions, you will find a wide range of products that will make great souvenirs.

↓ About 5 minutes by walk

12:00 MAHINA Island Naturals - Sun Printing Experience (about 2 hours)

For the finale, how about trying your hand at fabric sun-printing and make your own, memorable piece? Heliography is a Polynesian-born technique that uses real plants for stencil and the sunlight to leave their shapes on fabric and create iconic floral patterns. It can only be practiced in places blessed with both shining sun rays and lush greenery, and Kurima Island is of course one of them! At MAHINA Island Naturals, you can try this fascinating printing method for yourself. First, pick a type of cloth, from handkerchiefs to furoshiki (Japanese traditional wrapping cloth), and choose tropical flowers and leaves to use as your stencils. Then, decide on the coloring and place the plants following your inspiration. The sun will do the rest for you, so you can go out to enjoy a peaceful time on the nearby beach or at a relaxing cafe. By the time you are back, the piece of cloth you worked on will have turned into a one-and-only work of art. Sharing creative moments together will surely strengthen the bond between the two of you and will become a special memory of the trip. The workshop also sells handmade products from local materials, such as pretty accessories and natural soaps, so do not forget to take a look before heading back to the port!

↓ About 25 minutes by taxi

14:30 Return to Hirara Port

Posted on March 31th, 2021
Text by Silvia Telloni
Based in Tokyo with Okinawa in her heart, Silvia Telloni translates and writes in Italian, English and Japanese.

Useful links

Ryugu Castle Observatory *Only in Japanese

Kurima-ga *Only in Japanese

Rakuen no Kajitsu *Only in Japanese

MAHINA Island Naturals – Sun Printing Experience *Only in Japanese