Miyako Island is home to the most breathtaking beaches in the world and ranks high on the list of beautiful coast lines in Japan. I was able to take a three day trip to Miyakojima to witness this myself.
Miyako is located in the southern prefecture of Okinawa and only a 45 minutes away on a flight from Okinawa Honto. The flight is so short, the stewardesses just passes out some candy instead of drinks. At the airport I was already impressed by the cute Okinawan island design that is especially expressed on the rooftops through the red white tiling. You find this tiling all around Miyako on houses and over bus stops. The roads on the island are new and wide. It almost feels like being in another part of the mainland, not on a small island in the middle of the East China Sea. Miyako is fairly flat so there are no mountains to climb and the strong winds of typhoons just whoosh over the country side and do not damage as much as in other typhoon affected areas.
The island is known for its cows, brown sugar and fruits, so there are many farms, fields and sugar cane factories. You can find plenty of souvenir shops in the city to purchase post cards of the sceneries, T-shirts and other Miyako goodies. If you have the chance, try the authentic Miyako Soba. It's very delicious!
I stayed in a hotel right downtown, a 10 minute drive from the airport. The hotel's name is Sailin. I booked for 2 nights and 3 days at about 23.000¥, the round trip flight is also included. I also rented a car, which you definitely need if you are in Miyako, for sightseeing. The travel package also offered a rental car for 3 days for about 9,000¥. The hotel comes with a free breakfast buffet for the guests, which was quite tasty. My room had 2 beds with a TV, a personal shower and restroom, and a balcony.
Going around the island you find a lot of signs and maps that lead to the famous spots and beaches. My first stop was at Sunayama Beach (砂山ビーチ), which literally means Mountain of Sand. To get to the beach you have to climb a small dune. I was greeted by an amazing little beach and a cool rock formation that faces west which means that you can witness the sunset here. The beach itself is a background for many movies, concerts and videos. When my friends returned to the car, a musician and a cameraman passed by us to visit the sight.
Miyako is surrounded by three smaller islands which can be reached over sea bridges. Okinawa prefecture recently built the longest sea bridge of Japan (that is free of charge), which connects Miyako and Irabu island. The view is stunning and the island Irabu offers a lot of great beaches and sights.
Miyako and its islands are great spots for snorkeling and scuba diving. Irabu and Shimoji are known for their underwater caves and arches that are inhabited by large and colorful fishes. Shimoji island offers an especially great diving spot which is called the Toorike ponds. They are two salt water ponds which are connected to an underwater cave and feature beautiful shades of shining blue sea water that resemble only a few other places in Japan.
If you do not like snorkeling or diving but still want to enjoy the landscape, explore the great beaches and sights all around Miyako. The water is so blue, something I have never witnessed anywhere else. It's so clear, I was stunned. It was a rainy weather at that time yet the water and the sights appeared magnificent. Miyako's landscape is often used for Japanese commercials and movies because it is so beautiful. On top of that there are many cultural spots like the German village in Ueno which you can also visit.
So If you need an idea for a short (or longer) sightseeing trip, come to Miyako. You will definitely make memories that will stay with you forever.