Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Kurima Island – A Must-Visit Destination in Miyakojima City

The stunning Miyakojima City consists of six islands. Besides the main island, Miyako-jima, the next best island to visit is Kurima-jima. Connected by Kurima Ōhashi (来間大橋), one of Okinawa‘s longest bridges, Kurima Island is just a 15-minute drive from Miyako Airport (宮古空港). In addition to popular attractions such as the Ryūgūjō Observation Deck, there are also a few hidden beaches with fewer tourists for you to enjoy the breathtaking ocean scenery without being pushed around!

So after you cross the Kurima Bridge, below is a list of attractions you can visit (^_-)-☆.

How to Get to Kurima Island by Public Transportation

You can take Miyako Kyōei Bus (宮古協栄バス) Yonaha Kadekari Line (与那覇嘉手苅線) and get off at Kurima (来間). Please note that there is only one service to and from Kurima Island via Miyako Island.

HERE is the Japanese timetable for the bus service. The stops around Yonaha (与那覇) are close to Miyako Island’s most popular beach, Yonaha Maehama. Or you can board the bus from Miyako Airport (宮古空港).

Kurima Island’s Brief Profile

Kurima Island, which has a circumference of around 9km, is the fifth biggest island out of Miyakojima City‘s eight islands. The small island can be circumnavigated within 30 minutes by bicycle or 10 minutes by car.

Sugarcane fields occupy most of the island. It only has around 200 residents.

Recently, on top of the breathtaking beaches, there are more and more unique-style cafes, and boutique shops opened on Kurima Island.

Kurima Ōhashi Observation Deck (来間大橋展望台)

Kurima Ōhashi Observation Deck is also known as Matsu Observation Deck (マツ展望台). It was constructed together with Tako Park (タコ公園) and the famous Ryūgūjō Observation Deck.

Besides Ryūgūjō Observation Deck, Kurima Ōhashi Observation Deck is another spot on Kurima Island to adore the magnificent Kurima Bridge (approximately 1,690 meters).

As it was where the locals would wait for the connecting ferries to Miyako Island, the observation deck was named “Matsu”, meaning waiting. In addition, the surrounding pine forest is another reason for the observation deck’s name, as the word “Matsu” also means pine in Japanese.

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Around Tako Park, it was where the locals would fish for octopuses, hence the park’s name and the huge octopus statue placed in the park. The name also contains the prayer of receiving good luck and/or good fishing, as Tako can also be written as 多幸.

If you approach it closely, you can see that the octopus has been repainted into a red color with a headband added to it.

If you plan to drive, there is a small car park is close to Kurima Bridge. So while stepping on the accelerator is a must to go up the hill, you probably wouldn’t want to overdo it.

Important:
☛ Expect large spiders to be around the road leading to the park.
☛ There are no toilets or shops in the park. Insect repellent is also a must, as you will be walking through a jungle-like promenade.

The Beach Below Tako Park (タコ公園下ビーチ)

Underneath the octopus monument, there is a cove. Its formal name is Ingama (イン(ム)ガマ). But because the small beach is underneath Tako Park, the locals now call it The Beach Underneath Tako Park (Tako Kōen-shita Beach).

Although you won’t get a magnificent ocean view at Tako Kōen-shita Beach, it is like a small aquarium where you can encounter many different kinds of tropical fish!

To get to the beach, instead of following the promenade to the left, you will need to cut straight through the lawn on the right into the forest when you approach the lawn. You will then soon reach the cove surrounded by tall cliffs.

Tip: At low tide, although the cove is a lot less beach-like, there will be tidal pools near the quays, making it easier to find fish.

Important:
☛ Walk carefully in the water as it may deepen rapidly.
☛ Water shoes are recommended when walking on the rocky beach shore.

Kurima Fishing Port (来間漁港)

Close to the Kurima Bridge, there is a fishing port with a beach attached to it. The beach that is nicknamed Cat’s Tongue (猫の舌ビーチ) is shallow with few hard rocks and corals surrounding it. In addition, the current there is stable, making it the perfect spot for beginners to practice diving and snorkeling and/or families with young children.

The best thing about Kurima Fishing Port Beach (Pacha Beach (パチャの浜) on Google Maps) is that it has similar characteristics to the famous Yonaha Maehama Beach but with a lot less crowd!

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The only difference between the two beaches is the facilities available. There are only toilet facilities at Kurima Fishing Port Beach. The number of shops and cafes is also limited.

But since Kurima Fishing Port Beach is just a bridge away from Yonaha Maehama Beach, you can always grab whatever you need from Miyako Island before crossing Kurima Bridge to avoid the crowd!

Tip: The best lighting at Kurima Fishing Port Beach is between 11 am to 2 pm. Because the beach is facing east, you can only get backlight if you come too early.

AOSORA PARLOR (あおぞらパーラー)

Speaking of Okinawa, besides the breathtaking beaches, the other charm of the prefecture is its tropical fruits. One of the best places on Kurima Island to taste delicious fruits is AOSORA PARLOR. The cafe has more than 20 different smoothies for you to choose from!

The smoothies made at AOSORA PARLOR are made to order by blending the frozen fruits stored in the freezer soon after the riped fruits were harvested from the tree. Therefore, no added sugar or artificial sweeteners are required. That is the secret to the smoothies’ deliciousness (^_-)-☆.

The most popular smoothies are the Mango Smoothie (宮古島産マンゴースムージー) and Island x Island (アイランド×アイランド). If you visit Kurima Island outside of the mango seasons, the mango smoothie made from 100% Miyako-jima’s mangos at AOSORA PARLOR is the best way to taste the mangos harvested locally. If a smoothie made from just one type of fruit doesn’t sound too appealing to you, go for the Island x Island. It is made from pineapples from Ishigaki Island, Miyakojima‘s mangos, and coconut water.

In addition to the smoothies, desserts such as Okinawa‘s famous Sata Andagi and light meals are also served at AOSORA PARLOR. But just note there is no vegetarian light meal menu available.

Refer to our Best Markets and Arcades to Visit in Naha article to find out what Sata Andagi is!

After you get your smoothie, you can either enjoy it in the indoor or outdoor dining areas or relax in one of the hammocks. You can also shop for some souvenirs in one of the two shops next to AOSORA PARLOR.

Tips:
☛ If you like farm animals, head to the back of the spacious car park to meet the cafe’s two pet goats!
☛ You will get a discount on drinks if you use the tumblers sold at AOSORA PARLOR.

The straws used at AOSORA PARLOR are made from sugar cane!

AOSORA PARLOR’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • AOSORA PARLOR is open from 10 am to 6 pm.
    • The last order is at 5:50 pm.
  • It is a 2-minute walk from the Kurima bus stop.

Pani Pani (パニパニ)

Close to AOSORA PARLOR, there is another cafe that we would also recommend. In addition to smoothies, Pani Pani also has a range of light meals and dessert menus at a cheap price!

Pani Pani means vitality and freshness. Indeed, the ingredients used to make the amazing menu items are fresh, which increases our vitality levels after our body absorbs the nutrition. On top of that, the cafe’s tropical resort-style decoration creates a relaxing ambience. The cafe, which is covered with white sand, is definitely a great spot to de-stress!

Banana trees at Pani Pani create a part of the cafe’s tropical atmosphere. So when you visit the cafe, don’t be surprised if you see unripped bananas hanging from the ceiling (´▽`*).

After your stomach is filled, how about taking a walk to the souvenir corner? It is where you will find many cute accessories and miscellaneous items unique to Okinawa/Miyakojima!

As Pani Pani is one of the most popular cafes on Kurima Island, it is best to arrive at the cafe right after it opens. Especially on the weekends and public holidays, a queue can be as long as 30 minutes after it opens. This also means that some of the light meal menus can be sold out by noon.

Tips:
☛ They have an English menu.
☛ If you are experiencing communication issues, you can utilize the phrases in our Essential Japanese Travel Phrases for Vegetarians and Vegans to order the vegetarian dishes at Pani Pani.

Pani Pani’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • Pani Pani is open from 10 am. Its closing time changes according to the season.
  • It is a 2-minute walk from the Kurima bus stop.

Important: Pani Pani is usually closed from December to February.

Ryūgūjō Observation Deck (竜宮城展望台)

The three-story observatory inspired by the dragon king’s palace is a popular sightseeing spot on Kurima Island. It is built atop the island’s tallest hill, making it the best spot on Kurima-jima for a panoramic view of the breathtaking ocean, the Kurima Bridge, and Miyako-jima Island‘s best beach, Yonaha Maehama Beach at the back. You also have Irabu Island (伊良部島) and Irabu Bridge (伊良部大橋) on your left.

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Underneath the observation deck, there are toilet facilities, albeit unclean. If you need a coffee break, cafes are around Ryūgūjō Observation Deck.

The reason the observation deck was built imaging the dragon king’s palace is because the islanders worship the dragon king. Before Kurima Bridge was completed in 1995, the only way to access Kurima Island was by boat. The locals would pray to the dragon king for a safe sail prior to their trip.

Important: There are a lot of big spiders!

  • The best time to visit Ryūgūjō Observation Deck is before noon. The lighting is the best, which helps paint the most fascinating picture of the sandy beach shore and the coral reefs.
  • If you want to see Tarama Island (多良間島), which is 67km away, come in the early morning during the warmer months or in winter when the sky is clear.

How to Get to Ryūgūjō Observation Deck

  • Ryūgūjō Observation Deck is around a 20-minute drive from Miyako Airport (宮古空港) and a 5-minute walk from the Kurima bus stop (来間).
  • You can also walk from Miyako-jima, which takes around 30 minutes from Kurima Ōhashi (来間大橋).

Although Ryūgūjō Observation Deck’s parking lot isn’t big, many people would still spend up to 20 minutes there to find vacant spots!

Kurima Guard Station (来間遠見番所)

Another observatory spot close to the Ryūgūjō Observation Deck is the Kurima Guard Station.

The historical spot was constructed at the request of the Satsuma Domain to the Ryūkyū Dynasty to guard the Japanese territorial sea from foreign ships.

Farmer’s Restaurant Rakuen no Kajitsu (農家れすとらん 楽園の果実)

If you need a break after encountering so many spiders at Ryūgūjō Observation Deck, Farmer’s Restaurant Rakuen no Kajitsu opposite the observation deck is the perfect place to sit down. It is also a great spot to visit for those who are particular about organic products!

When mango is in season, it is the best place on Kurima Island to source some extremely delicious mangos and other tropical fruits from the shelf. And if you have time to dine in the restaurant, the mango-based dessert menu tastes like heaven! Although it is more expensive to dine at Rakuen no Kajitsu, some Japanese are more than happy to visit Kurima Island for the mangos here!

The restaurant’s owner, Sunagawa (砂川), started cultivating fruits and vegetables organically after seeing the negative effects of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. He wanted to protect Kurima Island’s nature and to only produce mangos that are safe and healthy to eat. While it takes more effort, the naturally grown mangos do have a richer flavor and are sweeter than their peers.

Extending the experience gained from planting mangos organically, Sunagawa now grows various organic fruits and vegetables. Whether it is dragon fruits or melons, the fruits served at Rakuen no Kajitsu just taste a lot better!

Rakuen no Kajitsu also sells processed fruit products, such as mango-flavored pound cake, jelly, and jams. As no preservatives or artificial colors are added, they can make the best souvenirs for your foodie friends. But just remember to check the expiry date before purchasing.

Tips:
☛ Arrive early to avoid disappointment. Mango dessert menus can be sold out soon after the restaurant opens.
☛ The mango season starts in June and can last until the beginning of October. The season peaks from June to August.

Important: While Rakuen no Kajitsu has light meal menus, no vegetarian options are available.

Farmer’s Restaurant Rakuen no Kajitsu (農家れすとらん 楽園の果実)

  • Rakuen no Kajitsu is open daily from 11 am to 6 pm except Tuesdays.
    • The last order is taken at 5:30 pm.
  • Farmer’s Restaurant Rakuen no Kajitsu is around a 20-minute drive from Miyako Airport (宮古空港) and a 5-minute walk from the Kurima bus stop (来間).

Tip: You can call to make a reservation. The number is +81-980-76-2991.

Hakoniwa Kurima and Hakoniwa Namima (ハコニワ クリマ ・ ハコニワナミマ)

Another boutique shop to stop by when you visit Kurima Island is Hakoniwa Kurima and Hakoniwa Namima. Not only are the merchandises handmade, but the shops themselves were designed and built by the owner, Kogawa (小川)!

The shops are situated in a residential area. In Hakoniwa Kurima, the merchandise symbolizing the shop’s name, Hakoniwa (miniature garden), is the glass bottle containing a small tropical world. To make the sand bottle more special, you can request a date or names to be engraved on the glass!

Other small goods such as sea turtle paintings, shell candle lights, and accessories are also great souvenirs to bring back home for your families and friends.

If small miscellaneous goods aren’t your thing, how about an original T-shirt from Hakoniwa Namima, which was renovated from a horse stable?

Hakoniwa Kurima and Hakoniwa Namima’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • Hakoniwa Kurima and Namima are open daily from 10 am to 6 pm.
  • The shops are around a 20-minute drive from the Miyako Airport (宮古空港) and a 5-minute walk from the Kurima bus stop (来間).

Sumlyamyaka (スムリャーミャーカ)

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On the way to the beaches on Kurima Island’s west coast, you will see a pile of stacked stones in the middle of crop fields. Without the stone tablet, you probably won’t realize that the 6.5m x 9m x 2.3m structure is a gigantic tomb!

Sumlyamyaka is Sumlya clan’s (長間家) megalithic tomb. The prefectural historical site has three stone chambers inside. While the tomb appeared to be fully covered now, it was initially thought that the place was used as a venue for sky burial. The roof was added after the 14th or 15th centuries as pieces of celadon from that time were found inside the tomb.

The structure was used up until the 20th century.

How to Get to Sumlyamyaka

Sumlyamyaka is around a 20-minute drive from the Miyako Airport (宮古空港) and a 10-minute walk from the Kurima bus stop (来間).

Nagamahama Beach (長間浜)

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Nagamahama Beach is on the west coast of Kurima Island. The soft sand at this hidden gem is so fine that it is almost like powder. Although there aren’t any toilet or shower facilities, it is a nice beach to spend some quiet time at.

So if you are experienced with diving or snorkeling and have the necessary equipment, Nagamahama Beach can be the best spot to observe the coral reefs and tropical fish around two to three meters away from the shore. In fact, Nagamahama Beach has the largest clownfish colony in Miyakojima City!

However, please keep in mind that on days with strong southerly winds, there will be strong waves at Nagamahama Beach. Currents will be fast too. And if things go wrong, you will be on your own as no lifeguards are stationed.

Obviously, you will be safe if you just stay around the shore.

Fun fact: Most clownfish will look into the camera. While this makes us really happy, they are actually preparing to chase you away. They will start attacking if you try to get close to them. So please keep a safe distance from them for theirs and your own sake.

Tips:
☛ The north part of Nagamahama Beach is a better snorkeling spot.
☛ You can expect a few temporary stalls around the beach during the warmer months.

Important:
☛ Water shoes are recommended if you plan on visiting Nagamahama Beach shortly after bad weather. The strong wind and rain can wash the sand off, and the exposed rocky terrain can potentially hurt your feet.
☛ The dangerous hub jellyfish season is between June and September. Unlike some beaches at Miyako Island, no prevention net is set up. So please watch out for them while you are in the water.
☛ Sharks can be spotted from time to time.
☛ There is no shade at Nagamahama Beach.

Sunset and Stagazing at Nagamahama Beach

Nagamahama Beach is also one of the great places to adorn the sunset and a night sky filled with stars. Just remember to bring a flashlight with you, as there will be no streetlights around.

  • The best time to see the milky way is shortly after sunset from June to November and just before dawn in winter.
  • For the Southern Cross:
    • Between 10 pm to 12 am in April
    • Between 9 pm to 10 pm in May
    • Between 8 pm and 9 pm in June
    • One week before and after the new moon in early July

How to Get to Nagamahama Beach

  • Ryūgūjō Observation Deck is around a 20-minute drive from Miyako Airport (宮古空港).
  • Nagamahama Beach is around a 30-minute bus ride from Hirara Port (平良港) on Miyako Island.
    • From the Kurima bus stop (来間), the beach is then a 20-minute walk.

Musunun Beach (ムスヌン浜)

Around 500 meters south of Nagamahama Beach, Musunun Beach is a spot on Kurima Island where rituals are held and performed each spring to prevent the crops from being damaged by pests. Although the beach isn’t suitable for swimming due to the strong current and rocky shore, it is another off-the-beaten-path spot to avoid the crowd!

Similar to Nagamahama Beach, you can expect a stunning sunset view and a night sky filled with stars at Muisunun Beach. Because Muisunun Beach is lesser-known, if there are already preceding visitors at Nagamahama Beach, Musunun Beach would be a good bet for a completely private scenery viewing session.

Again, there are no toilet or shower facilities at Musunun Beach.

Important: Water shoes are essential to protect yourself from slippery and rocky surfaces.

Musunun Festival (ムスヌン)

Musunun Beach got its name from the annual Musunun Festival in April in the lunar calendar. Pests are burnt on the shore by three men born in the years of Rooster, Rabbit, and Pig. The ashes are then carried to a rocky area about 300 meters away from the shore. When the tide ebbs, the ashes are scattered for the current to bring them away from Kurima Island. At the same time, women would then say the prayers to the god: “May there be no pests and may we get bountiful harvest”.

After the ritual, the islanders would gather and perform various performances as an oblation.

How to Get to Musunun Beach

  • Musunun Beach is around a 20-minute drive from Miyako Airport (宮古空港) or around a 30-minute bus ride from Hirara Port (平良港) on Miyako Island.
    • From the Kurima bus stop (来間), the beach is then a 20-minute walk.

Nagasaki Beach (長崎浜)

South of Musunun Beach, Nagasaki Beach is another small hidden beach that you might be able to enjoy exclusively. The water here is highly transparent, and you can most likely spot marine life in the tide pools during low tide. So while Nagasaki Beach isn’t quite suitable for swimming or snorkeling due to the fast current, it is still a great beach to relax on the shore.

Important: Water shoes are recommended to walk on the shore to avoid injury from the occasional sharp rocky surfaces.

Tip: The water’s color is at its most gorgeous before noon.

How to Get to Nagasaki Beach

  • Nagasaki Beach is around a 20-minute drive from Miyako Airport (宮古空港) and around a 30-minute bus ride from Hirara Port (平良港) on Miyako Island.
    • From the Kiruma bus stop (来間), the beach is then a 15-minute walk.

Discover Other Stunning Spots in Miyakojima City

Yabiji-Reef-Ikema-Island-Miyakojima-Okinawa-Japan
Click the photo for more information about other amazing spots in Miyakojima City!

Obviously, Kurima-jima shouldn’t be the only island to visit when you head to Miyakojima. So if you are unsure where else is worth your time, our Top 12 Attractions in Miyakojima City article can provide you with some ideas!

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