When you hear the phrase “islands in Okinawa”, Miyako Island and Ishigaki Island probably come to mind, however there are unique islands scattered throughout the vicinity of the Okinawa Main Island. Representative islands are Iheya Island and Noho Island where rituals from the Ryukyu Era have been passed down to the present, and the Kerama Islands which is known as a world class diving spot. A big attraction is the easy access from the Okinawa Main Island by ship and airplane. Furthermore, while driving through Kaichu-doro, the “Road Through the Sea connecting the Okinawa Main Island and Henza Island, you can travel around Hamahiga Island, Miyagi Island, and Ikei Island, where Okinawan culture and nature feature prominently.
Iheya Island /Noho Island
Iheya Island is called an ethnological treasure, and a variety of ancient festivals and events take place here including the “Unjami” Festival which welcomes the god of the sea and prays for good catches. Legendary spots such as “Yagura”, tomb of the ancestors of Sho Hashi (1st Sho Dynasty), who unified Okinawa, are scattered around the island. On Noho Island, connected with Iheya Island by a bridge, an ancient song praying for good harvests called “Iruchayo” is still sung to this day on this island only. You will no doubt feel the spirit of the heavens when you see the women dressed in the white costumes of the gods singing at the mountain shrine.
The Kerama Islands consist of over 20 large and small islands 30-40km west of Naha City. The clarity of the water in the ocean here is world class, and the color of the ocean is known as “Kerama blue”. Various tropical fish swim between colorful coral reefs. The underwater scenery is unlike anywhere in the world, and you will no doubt understand why the sea here is a world famous destination for divers. You can also enjoy superb views without diving into the ocean. Visit the observatories on Tokashiki Island, Zamami Island, Aka Island, and Geruma Island and you will be treated to magnificent views when the morning sun and moonlit nights reflect off the sea.
Kaichu-doro, the “Road Through the Sea”
Kaichu-doro, the “Road Through the Sea”, is a 4.7-kilometer long road connecting Yokatsu Peninsula on the Central Okinawa Main Island and Henza Island. Halfway across is a shopping area featuring local goods and products, and a marine leisure spot. Therefore, a wide variety of enjoyment is available. Touring islands beginning from this road is the preeminent driving route in Okinawa. Thoroughly enjoy Okinawan culture on Henza Island, which flourished as a transit point of commerce, and Hamahiga Island, where it is said that the gods of Ryukyu are buried. Later, why not visit Miyagi Island to see the tropical ocean from above? Or, how about Ikei Island as your last destination? You will be refreshed by the tranquil scenery of untouched nature still remaining there.