CONTRIBUTED BY HOLLY BATES
You may have visited Hamahiga Island, home of Muruku Beach, but if Muruku has been your only stop- you are missing out! Hamahiga Island and is about a 20 minute drive from Gate 2 of Kadena. Listed as the third best place to visit in Uruma, This island is certainly worth your time and the drive.
You are going to pass a lot of neat places on the way to Hamahiga Island. First if you look up to the left as you get closer to the Kaichu Bridge you will see the Katsurenjyo Castle Ruins (worth stopping to see, takes about an hour if you take your time), and then you will cross Kaichu Road. It is built into the water. It’s a hot spot for wind surfing if you’re into that. Many people use the stretch to run or briskly walk for exercise.
As you near the end of Kaichu Road, you will turn right to cross a bridge which leads over the water to Hamahiga Island. Take your first left and follow it around. You will come to a point where you have to go left toward Muruku, right toward a residential area, or “up” to the Hamahiga Resort. If you take a left here and then immediately turn left you can visit a small beach with a trail that leads back to cliffs where people sit and picnic or fish as well as a small beach. The rocks are very sharp so I suggest wearing shoes or flip flops and exercising caution when climbing over them.
When you come out of this area you have the option to keep driving around to the left on the little road you came in on. If you do this, it will take you to Muruku Beach, a beautiful beach with shells and sea glass. The parking is 500 yen and you can rent snorkels or floats from the shop next door (which also has showers). I have seen folks bring their dogs out here as well without issues. The road leading back there is a little bumpy and tight.
If you go “up” toward the resort, there is a café and restaurant and a wonderful view of the island and ocean. If you turn right into the neighborhood, you can also find some amazing beaches. Just follow the road until you can turn left and then follow the arrows. You will come across a few different beaches and a large loading dock. Both Japanese and Americans utilize this more secluded area for small gatherings, primitive camping, bringing their dogs and various water activities. One of the first beaches is Shirumichu beach (named for one of the creator gods of Okinawan mythology).
Pull to the end and park at the docks in the parking lot. When you get out here, to the right is viewing area that you can access for 300 yen – very pretty. If you keep walking along the road to the back it will take you to the Cave of Shirumihcu. This is the creator god of Okinawan lore. Many locals bring shells and coral and lay them at the opening of the cave while offering prayers for fertility and blessings upon their families.
If you get back into your car and meander further inland, you will come to another long road. Take it back to the left and you will dead end into an area that closes at 5pm. This is a more private beach. There is a little shop at the end that sells sea salts and offers pottery classes. You have to park your car and walk about 300-400 meters back to the beach, it’s beautiful and worth the walk.
When you leave just head the opposite way. You will pass through a small village and there are a couple of local farm stands that sell fresh garlic, onions and other vegetables. You will eventually make your way back onto the main road. The inner neighborhood roads are a tight squeeze and have tight turns, so keep that in mind. As you make your way back to the bridge that leads you to the island you will see a seaside restaurant nestled up a hill. It looks like a cabin with lights on the patio. They have a great crème brulee made from the purple yams found in Okinawa.
If you pass the bridge and head towards the other side of the island there is another hotel and café with a smaller beach and community. We spent the day on Hamahiga Island and found some great shells and sea glass. It wasn’t very crowded and we found the local people to be very friendly and helpful. It is also a great place to bring guests when they come to visit and if you like a more private beach experience.