Sunday, April 8, 2012

Miykojima / Miyako Island



Miyako is gorgeous! It is a small island located a 40 minute flight away from Okinawa. To be honest, there is little to actually 'do' inland, hence this blog is mostly pictures of FOOD! But, you are treated to a delightful range of resorts, beaches and water activities, so, beach-side, your day is a busy one!. In season, it is HOT and packed. We were fortunate enough to catch it just before the main season began (Spring break), but the weather was lovely, the water was the best I have ever seen and some of the snorkelling was right there waiting for you directly on the coast!

RESORTS - There are a few decent resorts on the island and it is worth paying extra for a simple, o-worry vacation. 

THE TOKYU RESORT caters well for families and has direct access to MAEHAMA beach. They offer water activities too as well as restaurants and shops. They have a number of putting parks for golf and even a fruit garden.

HOTEL BREEZE BAY MARINA - Located on the southern part of the island, this hotel resort has access to the German culture village (!) as well as it's own food and shopping village where you can eat for a reasonable price and see live performances each night and even get lots of souvenir shopping done! There is no direct beach, although you can walk along the paths to reach the glass bottom boat and then small beach areas.

SHIGARA RESORT - This resort is spread out on a larger area and offers a full beauty salon service, golf and electronic carting/skateboarding activities overlooking the sea. There are also many restaurants on Shigara site including a very sublime pizzeria - would totally recommend!

Of course, there are plenty pensions and apartments where you can have a much more free lifestyle. There are shops in Harara, the main town where you can buy food or, there are many small restaurants scattered all over the island. Many people rent cars, or even quad bikes to roam around the island as well as the adjoining islands of Kurima and Ikema. There is a MIYAKO ISLAND magazine that you will find anywhere and it will be your bible for the trip. Everything from diving, driving, souvenirs, food...etc (lots of pictures too)  is in there so you cannot go wrong.


SUNAYAMA BEACH - A small beach situated on the west of the island. There is a parking lot that offers showers and toilets, then there is a small hike to the beach itself. Well worth the trip.

YOSHINO BEACH - The rain was coming in, but it didn't stop anyone!

YOSHINO BEACH - If you like snorkelling and diving, then this is the ultimate beach for you. On the east coast of the island, there is plenty of coral and sea life to amaze you. Watch out for the stone fish! 


MAEHAMA BEACH - deemed one of the best in the world!!! Yes, really! I didn't believe it until I saw it! 
The sand is perfect and the colours of the water are magical.
You can take boats out to see the fish, to snorkel or you can wade in the clear water by yourself. It is simply beautiful.


                           Miyako delights
On a pack of cookies - 'I went to Miyako island'
For a small island, you can eat really well. there are sugar cane plantations everywhere, so, naturally, you can expect to see many sweet souvenirs, ranging from plain brown sugar to just about anything coated in brown sugar. I'm looking forward to making brown sugar bread with the bag we bought for ourselves!

Typical souvenirs from the island - mostly coated with BROWN SUGAR !!!

Miyako beef & Miyako noodles

There must be farms on the island for they pride themselves for the beef.
Guava juice
And, there is fruit aplenty - dragon fruit, mango, guava, sweet Miyako bananas ... ....DIVINE!
Dragon fruit juice

Island spices!!

Scallions grown on the island.

Jasmine tea is very popular.
Taco pizza & Goya pizza!

Sugar cane, sweet potato and mango flavours are typical of the island.
Awamori by the pool
You are allowed to taste before you buy and there is even a popularity ranking!
 Awamori is the alcoholic drink made in Okinawa and the rest of the south. It is a lot stronger than the regular Sake and should be drunk with water and even fruit juice - I wish we had known this when we were tasting them at the shop!!
I'll have a VAT of Awamori please!!! 

Brown sugar cappucino
And a little tip for you and a reminder for me - There was one super lovely cafe, near Sunayama beach, where the vibe was mellow, the layout simple and the food delectable.  Do be sure to visit!

Coconut curry

Okinawa - NAHA

After 6 years, I finally get to visit the southern island of Japan. What a surprise!

It's hard to believe that this is still Japan - there are tropical trees and flowers everywhere, the climate is already so much warmer, the locals even seemed so much more laid back but little things like the Post Offices and the Yamato (takkyubin service) signs reminded me that this was still the ever efficient Japan I know and loved and how I wished had actually remembered to send my own suitcase down!

Naha is the only city on the island and it is certainly a bustling little hub.

There is a different mentality in the south for sure and whatever the reasons - I like it!

I found people to be a lot more relaxed, the food was delicious and the weather was lots warmer. I was happy.

We failed to actually absorb any culture as we only stopped for a night either side of our main trip to Miyako, but we liked what we saw. Next time, we have promised ourselves some island exploration, a visit to Shuri castle and a lot more coastal discovery! For now, here is a little introduction to Japan's main southern island.


They do love the PIG down in the south and the poor animal doesn't stand a chance! Look at this picture carefully and you will see the shape of his nose!

And, you shall be glad to hear, that the ears can be served FRESH or DRY and in snack form! I have to admit to trying them a good few years back. I still haven't quite got over the experience.

Pig's EARS!!

Taco Rice

 I have been enjoying taco rice at home for a short while now. It is a Mexican slant on a bowl of meat and rice but I had no idea that it actually 'originated' from Okinawa. This picture has egg and mayonnaise (heavenly) but, it is still very delectable with just salad and cheese!

Goya chanpuru, sea grape, HAMBURGER & FRIES
Goya is a strange, bumpy vegetable. it tastes bitter and looks like a fat, unhealthy cucumber-courgette-fusion gone wrong - yet, somehow, it works. Admittedly, you need to fry it with SPAM (available endlessly, thanks to the US connection.) and add some fat chunks of tofu to make you think that it IS actually healthy despite the oil and faux-meat (!)

Again, thanks to the US, there are a LOT of hamburger joints there. OMG! YUM YUM!

Souvenirs / Omiyage

Hello Kitty hand towel.

Goya kitty pencil.
There is one long strip of souvenir shops in the centre of Naha and you can find anything from Hello Kitty towels, pens, socks etc (of course!) to colourful drinking glasses. There are flowery shirts aplenty as many opt for it as a daily fashion - even your dog can get a Okinawan style t-shirt! (no, we did not get one for Elbi!!)

 I managed to pick up a cute kokeshi doll to add to my collection. She looks so sweet, with her hibiscus on her tummy!
And then....the best...worst...or certainly most popular is this one to  the right...Look carefully...!!!

The airport is one of the best I have ever seen. It's probably easier to just allow yourself an extra couple of hours and you can send your postcards AND collect gifts for all in sundry. You could even do a fruit and vegetable shop for dinner if you are flying locally! (A few items are not allowed even in Japan, so do check when you purchase.)

You might just want to get a last taste of the tropical vibe and grab a smoothie. Good luck trying to remember the names!! But -  it was delicious!

Saturday, April 7, 2012


It's never a good sign when the first flight to your holidays is delayed, especially without reason, but when the check-in is closed 'indefinitely', it is hard to not let your heart sink and and lose faith altogether.

However, the flight was held back for just two hours, reasons unknown, perhaps better not known. We set off for the three hour journey to Okinawa, Japan's largest island in the south.
So DIY, So easy!
Check-in is simple enough. We had bought the tickets on-line and received a bar code form the ever so convenient, convenience store. A quick swipe of the bar code and we have luggage labels. Magic. Even better is to takkyubin the bags down there, something I forgot about until the return. Then you can travel super light!

We were taken by bus to the plane and because of the delay, we had a slightly longer than normal drive to the cargo terminal of Nairta airport (!).

You could tell by the location of the parking for the plane and the bright orange uniforms (think EasyJet) that this was a basic airline carrier, but, on the plane, I cast all my judgements aside.

The plane was clean, neat and, according to by tall husband, had more leg room than a regular trans-Atlantic flight.

Nice views from the plane!
Landing in Okinawa was no problem, although the crew seemed to expect a lot more turbulence than there was. We all buckled up, but the cloudy weather in Okinawa had no effect on our plane.

Equally as impressive was the short, 40 minute flight to MiyakoJima, a smaller, even more tropical style island. The plane was smaller but the leg room, the service and the flight itself were all very pleasant too.

Drinks are served at an extra cost, but you are not ripped off at all. Everything is 100yen, so you really can relax and enjoy the flight.