- Great Drives to the Nearby Islands of Okinawa. Part II: Miyagi Island
- Looking for an Island Off the Beaten Track in the Peak Summer Season? How About Izena Island?
Great Drives to the Nearby Islands of Okinawa. Part III: Ikei Island
post : 2019.05.28 08:00
A uniquely Okinawan sight of the Shisa lions, quietly overlooking the Ikei Ohashi Bridge
From Yokatsu Peninsula located on the east coast of Okinawa Island, there are a string of islands that seem to protrude from the seas. At the farthest end of these islands is Ikei Island. Today, Ikei Island is accessible from Kaichu Doro, passing through Henza Island and Miyagi Island, but before 1982 when Ikei Ohashi Bridge still hadn’t been constructed, getting to Ieki Island took two hours each way from Yakena Port.
The scenery from the bridge consists of Miyagi Island, also referred to as the elevated island or Takahanari, and many protrusions of Ryukyu limestone rocks on the water’s surface. The blue seas that seem to continue as far as your eyes can see, and numerous fishing boats that come and go, leaving behind quiet trails of white waves as they pass. Immersing yourself into the scenery, you’ll feel the slow and relaxing flow of island time. In the Okinawan language, Ikei is pronounced Ichi, and the locals call it Ichi Jima. Since it’s the farthest in the string of islands from the main island, Ikei Island is also referred to as Ichi Hanari.
The level of transparency in the waters surrounding Ikei Island is especially high, and this attracts people to the island over and over again. On the roads are cars with many people on leisure drives going to and from the island. It’s been over five years since we started living in Uruma City, the city that Ikei Island is a part of, and we’ve noticed an increase in traffic over the years. Perhaps more and more people have discovered this great driving course? I wonder.
Once you cross Ikei Ohashi Bridge, appearing before your eyes is Ikei Jima Domon, the tunnel entrance on to the island.
From this point on to the island, a distance which takes under a minute, is my favorite part of the drive. Between the pillars of the exposed concrete of this tunnel with an inorganic design, you’ll see flashes of the brilliant blue waters of Ikei Island as you drive along.
“Where does this tunnel lead to?”
No matter how many times I’ve driven on this route, I always feel excited at this part.
The drive along the tunnel will lead to…
Ikei Beach!! A tropical paradise.
This beach offers white sandy beach, corals, and crystal clear waters and has showers and washrooms, as well as an accommodation facility. They also have a great lineup of things to do, like camping and marine sports, and they even offer BBQ sets!
At the restaurant, you’ll find Sata Andagi, or Okinawan donuts made with Ogon Imo potatoes, a golden colored sweet potato that’s a specialty product of Ikei Island. The simple yet delicious treat is packed with the warmth and comfort of this island, so if you get a chance, be sure to try one.
For those of you not looking to go out on a full swim but still want to enjoy the ocean, you can still have lots of fun on the beach. The eastern coast of Ikei Island has natural beaches for you to enjoy.
From the old Ikei Elementary and Junior High School, which is now closed (and presently a private facility), descend the road toward the shop, Ikei Jima Kyodo Super, and you’ll find a small beach there. The various shapes of the rocks create puddles of all shapes and sizes and you’ll see hermit crabs and countless little blue fish swimming about. Enjoy observing the ecosystem of Ikei Island, and perhaps dip your feet in the water. Whatever you choose to do, they’ll be great memories of your visit here.
My final recommendation on Ikei Island is Agaibisuku, a coastline with a fantastic view of the horizon, presented to you without any obstructions. There are no signs or landmarks, but somehow we always manage to find our way here while on our adventure on Ikei Island.
This area is not fit for swimming because of the strong tide and the water gets deep pretty quickly. Still, the luxury of nothingness on the horizon is rewarding for those who come here. Whenever I have the time, I keep driving until I reach Agaibisuku, and when I see the view here, I feel recharged, and think, “I’m ready for tomorrow!”
In this three-part series, we introduced the three islands of Hamahiga, Miyagi, and Ikei Islands, all of which are nearby islands from the east coast of Okinawa Island. We hope you enjoyed the articles.
The natural beauty of these islands will surely provide you a relaxing and comfortable time of reflection. These locations are great to enjoy the outdoors but visiting these islands and thoroughly seeing what they have to offer will lead you to new discoveries of Okinawa and all it has to offer.
Okinawa CLIP photo writers, monobox (Tetsumasa & Kozue Kawano)