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An adventure to Okinawa’s scenic, beautiful Hiji Falls

By: David Knickerbocker

Date Posted: 2002-08-23

Last weekend, I decided to take a drive up to the northern part of the island and hike one of Okinawa’s most scenic nature trails–Hiji Falls. If you’ve never been there, the trail is a long hike in the woods near the Okuma beach resort. Be warned: this is quite a strenuous hike, so bring water and wear suntan lotion. Most of the path is shaded by surrounding trees and foliage so the sun doesn’t beat down on you so bad, but the hike is a continuous battle of unending flights of stairs going up and down culminating in a view of one of Okinawa’s most beautiful waterfalls. Though tiresome, the hike is very rewarding. The site is very photogenic, so don’t forget your camera.

After you pull into the Hiji Falls parking area and leave your car, walk towards the main entrance. Here, you’ll pay ¥200 per person as admission to explore the grounds. There are also a few soda machines nearby, so you might want to down a sports drink or ice tea before beginning your trek. Up ahead, you’ll see a camping area. This marks the beginning of the trail.

During your hike, you’ll cross a red suspension bridge overlooking green forests and a stream. This is one of Hiji Falls’ most photogenic areas. Next, you’ll climb and descend countless flights of stairs. Though strenuous, don’t let the intensity and challenge of the climb distract you from the beauty of your surroundings. It’s easy to fall into the habit of focusing on how far you are from the actual falls instead of taking in the nature around you. This happened to me a few times.

Near the end of the hike, there will be a large stream with huge rocks on your left side. If you fell like getting of the manmade trail and walking near the water, this is acceptable. It’s a beautiful area and the manmade trail gets to be a little repetitive sometimes. Walking near the water and on the rocks is definitely a nice change. At the end of the hike, you’ll see the Hiji waterfall with a small body of water at the bottom. Though signs at the beginning of the hike warn against swimming here, neither the locals nor their children seem to pay the warning any heed, so if you feel like taking a dip in the cool waters after your long hike, go ahead. There are also many rocks to sit on and have a picnic or talk with friends. After you are done resting at the waterfall, hike back the direction you came. The way back is a little less strenuous than the hike to the falls.

Driving to Hiji Falls is quite easy, but it’s a long drive from most places. Take highway 58 north and head towards the Okuma resort. Pass Nago city and continue north about 45 more minutes. Soon, you’ll see signs abounding Okuma on your left side. Turn right instead. Up ahead, there will be signs in English and Japanese announcing the Hiji Falls. Follow them and park your car.

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