Despite being only an hour and a half ferry ride from Okinawa-honto, Iheya Island (Iheyajima) feels like a world away. Beautiful aquamarine seas, white beaches, green hills and rice paddies, no traffic and only a few Naha-esque concrete jungles make Iheyajima the perfect place to relax and chill-out.
Unfortunately, I was on the Island for work so wasn’t able to get completely into the island-vibe. Nevertheless, I did have ample opportunity to explore on my bike…
Well maintained roads, stunning scenery and very very very few cars make Iheyajima is a fantastic place to ride. It’s about 35kms around the Island and there are added hill climb opportunities so it’s perfect for all levels of experience. There are small stores and a few vending machines scattered around the island, but make sure you stock up if planning to spend a day out and about cycling, swimming, and exploring the sights.
There are many natural and cultural sights to see on Iheyajima. The highlights for me were of course the beautiful beaches and crystal clear waters; an impressive 300 year-old Ryukyu Matsu tree; and the peaceful coral-walled towns scattered with thatched-roofed resting shelters. There are also caves, natural groundwater springs, hiking trails and a few hilltop lookouts to keep you busy. So, you’ll need at least two days to see everything and save just enough time to sit back and enjoy island-time.
Getting to Iheyajima:
Ferries run from Unten port in Nakijin twice a day and cost around 4500yen. To take your bike you’ll need to pay an extra 2000yen.
There are about 4 or 5 minshuku (bed and breakfasts) on Iheyajima and all charge around 5000yen a night including dinner and breakfast. There is also a beautifully located campground at the southern end of the island that has fantastic facilities. Unfortunately, due to the sandy soil and regular typhoons there aren’t many trees so so the lack of shade makes mid-summer camping a very hot experience.