Part of Japan’s Ryukyu island chain, this small group of subtropical islands between Okinawa Island and Ishigaki is known for its world-class diving and snorkeling. Several of the beaches here are consistently ranked among Japan’s best.
A visit to Miyako-jima, as it is known in Japanese, is sure to be a relaxing one.

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1. Nakanoshima Beach

Known locally as Kayaffa Beach, this natural beach on Shimoji Island is surrounded by a large reef that keeps the bay protected from large waves.

Thanks to its calm and exceptionally clear water, Nakanoshima is a great spot for viewing the many corals and tropical fish that inhabit the area. Because the beach is not supervised by lifeguards, visitors will need to watch over their own safety.

Nakanoshima Beach
Irabu, Miyakojima City, Okinawa Prefecture, 906-0504

2. Toriike Ponds

These two ponds on Shimoji Island are connected underwater, and one is also connected by an underwater tunnel to the ocean, through which advanced divers can swim.

Due to large differences in water depth, salt concentration, and temperature, a wide variety of marine life inhabit the ponds. The mysterious appearance of the ponds has inspired more than one local legend, and they are a popular spot on Shimoji-shima for sightseers.

Toriike Ponds
Sawada Irabu, Miyakojima, Okinawa 906-0507

3. Yonaha Maehama Beach

With its white sand and brilliant turquoise water that stretches out toward Kurima Island in the distance, Yonaha Maehama Beach is truly exquisite and has been called the most beautiful beach in the Far East.

It is also one of the longest beaches on Miyako Island and offers extensive marine sports and other activities, from riding jet skis and banana boats to parasailing.

Yonaha Maehama Beach
1199 Shimoji Yonaha, Miyakojima City, Okinawa 906-0000

4. Irabu Ohashi Bridge

Holding the title of the longest toll-free bridge in Japan, Irabu Bridge connects Miyako and Irabu Islands. It is well worth the drive simply for the amazing panoramic views, which change according to the level of the tide and the angle of the sun.

Irabu Ohashi Bridge
Miyakojima, Okinawa 906-0000

5. East Henna Cape

Higashi-Henna-zaki, or East Henna Cape, is a thin windswept protrusion of land reaching out two kilometers into the Pacific, with the East China Sea to the north and the Philippine Sea to the south.

The ocean views along the cape are all superb, but for the most spectacular vista, be sure to visit the lighthouse at the end. In spring, the Easter lilies add an extra dimension to the cape's beauty.

East Henna Cape
Bora-1221-14 Gusukube, Miyakojima, Okinawa 906-0000

6. Irabu Island (Toguchi no Hama Beach, Sawada no Hama Beach)

Known for its fishing port and beautiful sandy beaches, Irabu Island is the second-largest of the Miyako Islands. It is connected to Miyako-jima by the long and graceful Irabu Ohashi Bridge.

The colorful houses by the port lend the area a foreign feel. Top beaches include Toguchi no Hama, with its 800 meters of white sand, and Saw…

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