This Miyakojima travel guide shows you the highlights of the largest island of Okinawa Prefecture in Japan. Miyakojima is all about white-sand beaches, calm turquoise waters, and marine life-rich reefs. In other words, it’s got all the essential ingredients for an idyllic tropical island getaway. The paradisical isle forms part of the Miyako Islands – home to several of Japan’s best beaches. 

    As you can imagine, Miyakojima offers a slew of aquatic activities, from snorkelling to swimming and scuba diving in the deep blue. Back on land, travellers can enjoy picturesque coastal lookouts, immaculately manicured gardens, and a famous inter-island bridge. Sound exciting? Find everything you need to know about planning a trip to Miyakojima below. 

    1

    Beaches in Miyakojima

    Which Miyakojima beach is right for you?

    • Families
    • Photo
    • Budget
    • Adventure

    Picture-perfect beaches are the big drawcard at Miyakojima. The most famous is Yonaha-Maehama, a brilliant white stretch that’s considered the best beach in Japan. This 7-km slice of paradise is known for its incredible sunsets and watersports (rentals available on-site). To the north, Sunayama Beach is a pretty little cove with a famous foliage-strewn rock arch.  

    Snorkellers should make a beeline for the east end of the island. Aragusuku Beach and Yoshino Beach have pristine coral reefs teeming with technicoloured fish. Wherever you visit, keep an eye out for strong ocean currents and the seasonal (June to October) habukurage (box jellyfish). 

    2

    Natural attractions in Miyakojima

    Pristine beauty beyond the coast

    • Photo
    • Adventure

    Although Miyakojima is famed for its beaches, there’s plenty of natural beauty to admire on land. Cape Higashi-Hennazaki is your go-to sea view – it’s a nationally designated Place of Scenic Beauty. This jaw-dropping 2 km promontory boasts dramatic coastal cliffs with a lighthouse perched on top. Come at sunrise or sunset if you can.  

    Miyakojima Botanical Garden adds a wild tropical twist to your typical, well-manicured Japanese garden. Easy walking trails meander between reflective ponds and verdant vegetation, with exotic plant species from Japan and abroad. Over by the airport, Toriike Pond is an eroded limestone sinkhole with world-class diving. Swing by the tranquil rocky covers of Imugya Marine Garden for snorkelling and scenic coastal walks.  

    3

    Hirara

    City of Miyakojima

    • Families
    • History
    • Photo

    Hirara is the central urban hub of the island of Miyakojima. Don’t expect the hustle and bustle of Tokyo because this laidback, low-rise settlement retains a slow-paced way of life. A string of beaches and waterfront resorts lie peppered along the port area. However, you’re better off heading outside the city to find tropical bliss. 

    Miyako Shrine is the city’s top temple of worship. The ornate, 16th-century Shinto shrine hosts regular festivals and has a lovely red terracotta roof. Hit Kamamamine Park for sporting facilities like a baseball pitch and tennis courts. The kids will love its iconic Shisha slide. 

    Location: Hirara, Miyakojima, Okinawa, Japan

    Map
    4

    Irabu Ohashi

    Miyakojima’s stunning bridge

    • Photo
    • Budget

    Irabu Ohashi is the most impressive of Miyako Island’s many beautiful bridges. Stretching 6.5 km between Miyako and Irabu, the magnificent modern construction arches over colourful coral reefs. The best way to admire this manmade attraction is to drive over it in a car or bike.   

    On the southern end of the island, the 1.6 km Kurima Bridge has a scenic pedestrian-friendly footpath. Don’t miss the castle-like Ryuuguujo Observation Deck upon arriving at Kurmina Island. And to the north, the Ikema Bridge leads to wildlife-rich wetlands and an Instagrammable heart-shaped rock. 

    Location: Miyakojima, Okinawa 906-0000, Japan

    Map
    5

    Dining and restaurants in Miyakojima

    Where to eat in Miyakojima?

    • Food

    Although Miyakojima’s dining scene can’t match Japan’s mega-metropolises, you’ll find several decent eateries scattered around the island. Koja Soba is a traditional wood-panel noodle house serving good value set menus. Enquire about their signature dish: stewed pork soup served with thin buckwheat noodles.  

    On the south side of the island, Mayuroshi Shokudo is an unassuming local eatery with udon-style soba noodles and fall-off-the-bone pork ribs. Nearby, Hirochan Shokudo does tasty mozuku tempura and other local delicacies for a very reasonable price. Head to the perennially popular Doug’s Burger if you’re craving hearty western comfort food. 

    6

    Shopping in Miyakojima

    Where to shop in Miyakojima?

    • Shoppers

    While Miyakojima isn’t exactly a shopping destination, there are enough markets, malls, and stalls to stock up on supplies. Aeon Town Miyako Minami Shopping Center is the island’s main retail district. You’ll find a well-stocked supermarket, a comic book cafe, a 100-yen store, and everyday goods like clothing, electronics, and hardware. San-A Shopping Town has a more centrally located supermarket. 

    For souvenirs, all-natural beauty products, and fresh juicy mangoes, try the Miyakojima City Public Market. Self-caterers can stock up on groceries at the Atarasu Farmers Market. Popular with both travellers and locals, this authentic Japanese market has the widest variety of produce on the island.  

    7

    Nightlife in Miyakojima

    Where to after dinner in Miyakojima?

    • Nightlife

    You won’t find many Western-style bars in Miyakojima, so get ready to raise a glass of sake with the locals. The rowdiest watering hole is DNA Tropical Bar & Club, a dimly-lit wood-panel venue with delicious cocktails and a dancefloor on weekends.  

    Bar Think is the go-to venue for a top-shelf drink. The sophisticated lounge stocks a dizzying array of imported spirits and wines. If you fancy a round of billiards or darts, Penguin Bar has a decent selection of games. Another option is Bar Style, which blends Latin beats with an abundance of sake and an array of spirits. 

    8

    Miyakojima activities

    What to do in Miyakojima?

    • Families
    • Adventure
    • Group

    Dubbed the “Ocean’s flower garden,” Yabiji reef is a colourful underwater paradise for scuba diving and snorkelling. The vibrant, marine life-rich reef is the biggest coral grouping in Japan, home to exotic tropical fish, slithering sea snakes, colourful coral, and curious mantas. Book a glass-bottom boat cruise if you don’t want to get your feet wet.

    There’s no need to board a boat to go island hopping in Miyakojima. A series of spectacular ocean bridges connect Miyako Island with four neighbouring islands:

    • Ikema 
    • Irabu 
    • Shimoji 
    • Kurima  

    Hiring a car is the best way to explore each island in-depth.

    9

    How to Get to Miyakojima

    Factual travel information

    Miyako Airport is the main gateway to Miyakojima – there are currently no passenger ferry services. Direct flights depart from Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya. If you’re already in Okinawa, smaller aircraft ply the short routes from Naha, Ishigaki, and Tarama. Note that Jetstar and Skymark use the Shimojishima Airport.   

    A rental car is the easiest way to explore this compact, 25 km-long island. In general, the roads are good and drive times short – it takes under an hour to get from one end to the other. Pick up and return your rental at Miyako Airport. Local buses are infrequent and challenging to navigate for non-Japanese speakers. Many hotels and tours offer a free shuttle service

    Harry Stewart | Contributing Writer

    Start planning your trip

    Back to top

    Maps