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Ikei island offers nice beaches and easy exploration

By: Kenny Ehman

Date Posted: 1998-06-20

The islands of Henza, Miyagi, and Ikei on the east coast of Okinawa give you the chance to escape the crowds and noise of Okinawa, without having to board a ferry or an airplane. Connected by the longest bridge on Okinawa, all three islands stretch out from Yokatsu Peninsula across the Pacific Ocean. The 4.7 kilometer bridge that extends across the causeway separating the islands from Okinawa was actually built on the water, creating a man made strip of land. Going across the "land -bridge" you notice the calm flat ocean on both sides of the road. The area is a popular place for wind surfing, providing plenty of space for long flat water riding.

The first of the three islands, "Henza jima", is not much to look at, covered mostly by a huge petroleum plant. Hopping on over to "Miyagi jima", the scenery begins to change with much more lush greenery and quiet Okinawan villages. You can cross the island either through the center or around the east coast. Taking the road leading up the huge hills that propel upwards from the center of the island, will take you mostly through farm fields of sugar cane, where islanders toil under the hot sun caring for their small plots of land. You will also approach the ruins of Tomari Castle. As you come down the other side, the sea will expand before you beyond the small village situated on the side of the hill. Tiny houses with small winding roads dot the hillside, with plenty of banana and papaya trees filling their yards.

Taking the road that winds around the coastline, you will get a beautiful ocean view as you climb along the west coast. Beautiful hues of green and blue come into view over the cliffs that drop down to the Pacific Ocean. Be sure to park your car on the side of the road, if you want to get some nice photographs. You can continue to explore Miyagi island as you approach the far side of the island by following the road along the west coast. Banana tree patches fill the hills on your left as you drive along. This road abruptly ends midway, but their is a nice private beach laying below the green covered landscape, which can easily be spotted from the road above.

Ikei Island is famous for its red bridge that crosses over the small inlet between itself and Miyagi Island. The clear aqua green water below along with green covered outcroppings of huge rocks add to the scenery. There is also a small beach just below the bridge that is accessible. As you continue into the heart of Ikei Island, you will first notice the deep emerald green color of the water extending out from Ikei Beach. Although this beach charges an entrance fee, it is well kept and has proper toilets and showers. There are also a variety of marine sports to choose from. The sandy bottom makes it a great place for swimming. Continuing along the main road, you can turn off to the left, where you will find another nice sand beach (entrance fee charged), or take one of the small roads leading to the east coast, where you will find a nice huge expanse of beach.

Staying on the main road will eventually take you to the "Big Time Resort". There is a charge for parking, but once you are inside you can roam around freely. Follow the walkway that takes you around the back of the resort towards the water, and you will find some small secluded beaches nestled between the cliffs and rocks. The resort also has a bar, restaurant, and other amenities associated with most big hotels.

Although Ikei is very small in size, the island makes a nice place for a drive or day at the beach. The island is quiet and easy to explore. It is also a nice place for a camping trip or for a sea kayak excursion. To get to the island simply follow Route 329 along the east coast of Okinawa, going south from Ishikawa. Turn off at Enobi, following the signs to Yakena. From there follow the signs and look for the bridge that leads to Ikei.

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