CONTRIBUTED BY JENNIFER SHUE
You know how sometimes you’ll be sitting at your computer, rain pouring down outside (as it has done for days on end), staring at some maps thinking to yourself, “I wonder what’s over there?” And then the sun comes out and you get in your car and go?
Well, recently such a scenario played itself out in my life and I went to Ikei Island. It is just a short drive from the “real world” of the rest of Okinawa – I was driving from Kinser and I think it took me about an hour to get there. But once you go over the bridge to Henza Island (which is on the way) you start to feel as though you’ve left the known world behind. There aren’t even any Family Marts or Lawsons. Just fields, and cliffs, and deep turquoise seas. (But there are still vending machines along the fields, so you haven’t left all of Japan behind.)
After you go through what I call the “graffiti tunnel” on Henza Island, you arrive on Miyagi Island. As the road ascends the cliffs the ocean views glimpsed through the trees will take your breath away. Keep going a few more minutes until you pass through the first of two open-tunnel-like structures. Pass over a red bridge and onto Ikei Island itself.
You’ll go through another one of these open tunnel things and then there will be Ikei Beach on your left. I highly recommend stopping and spending the afternoon here. There is a little parking lot and beach admission is 400Y for adults, 300Y for kids 4 and up, free for 3 and under. You buy your tickets from a little vending machine.
It is not the biggest beach in the world, but it is a gem. The water is an unimaginably perfect temperature, gentile little waves, not too many shells, not too powdery. I know they have jet skis you can rent (not sure how much), and I believe you can get a tour on that little boat. Next time I go I’ll look into that. There is a sign at the entrance, however, that says no snorkeling.
There is a teeny, tiny little town on the island, as well as fields of sugar cane and what looked like tobacco (I had no idea they grew that here, but I didn’t exactly get out and scrutinise), but if you leave the beach and continue on the 10 (which you were driving on before the beach) further into the island, past all the fields, there is a resort at the end.
I forget the name of the place, “Big Time Ikei Island Resort” or something to that effect. I’m not sure if you are supposed to go there and hang out, but no one told me to leave. There is a little parking area after you enter the property. If you park there and walk over the grassy area and between a break in the shrubs, you’ll see the end of the island. The view is beautiful, but wear some good rock/reef walking shoes because these rocks are really sharp and craggy.
If you need to get away from your routine, this is a great little day or afternoon trip. Pack yen, snacks, and an adventurous spirit.
Directions: If you are coming from Kadena you can go out Gate 2 and follow that road straight into Awase, then turn left (North, towards Uruma, Nakagsusku Port, Katsuren, etc) onto 33. Follow this past Nitori and Jusco until you reach 10. Turn right and follow the signs for Henza Island, Miyagi Island, Hamahiga Island, and Ikei Island. At one point 10 will make a left, so keep an eye out. A few bocks after you make the turn you’ll see your last Family Mart before you start crossing some bridges. Just keep going on 10.
Beautiful beach! We went today in the afternoon and were bummed that the beach closed at 5:30 PM. We got there at 3. Another hour would have been great, especially since there was still plenty of daylight. So keep that in mind if you are heading out there in the afternoon. Not sure if it closed at 5:30 because it was Sunday or if that’s always the closing time. Also, you should know that if you want to snorkel, they require you to use a life vest. So, take your own, or expect to pay 500 yen/vest. The water is very calm, great beach to take young children. Plenty of shallow area for them to splash around in.
Does anyone know if dogs are able to go on the beach or in the resort ?
I’ve only been here a month, so still learning the area… If coming from Kinser do I need to drive all the way up to Kadena and follow the directions in the article or is there a shorter route coming from down south? Thanks
The “Big time Ikei Island Resort” closed down in feb of this year. It also looks to have gotten alot of typhoon damage over this past typhoon season. Not much out there, but it was a nice weekend afternoon drive!
My girlfriend and I just tried to find the “ruins” by following Andy’s directions. Good directions, just go to the small beach across the main beach, go right and you will see a rock you have to go over to follow a trail. We followed the trail and came across a yellow railing with steps. If you follow this rail you will get to a point where it looks like it makes a sharp right. Go left! What happened was the tailor was bent by a landslide, if you look left and up about 10-15 feet youll see the railing. Follow this up until you see a small shrine with a red roof. If you go left where the railing ends, there’s another path (you have to go through some vines and over a fallen tree) follow this trail and you will come up to a little shrine thing with sea shells in it on your left. This is the furthest we made it. There doesn’t seem to be any other trail after that. Plus this was on the very top of the mountain.
Bring a stick!! And don’t wear flip flops like my girlfriend did. haha. It’s a fun little adventure.
Do you know any history to the Ikei Castle ruins? Thanks
Does anyone know the resorts phone #?
The directions in the article are from Kadena Gate 2. It is easy to find following those. Have a great time!
Would anyone be able to get me directions for how to get here from Kadena? My husband and I are wanting to go this weekend. Thanks!
Has anyone been able to find the Ikei Castle ruins? There’s a big red dot for it on my map but when we went exploring on Ikei we had no idea where to find it. If anyone has any tips I would much appreciate it! 🙂
I too had grea difficulty finding the castle ruins. I eventually asked the guya t the front desk at the Big Time Resort. The castle ruins is IMMEDIATELY after you have crossed the bridge and gone through the tunnel on your RIGHT HAND SIDE. You will see a large parking lot right across teh street from the main beach. Here is an even better hint: If you look at the photo at the top of this article, it is in the back ground. That’s right! The caste ruins is on top of/part of that mountain overlooking the water, surrounded by the ocean.
My boyfriend and I found it and tried to access it by the eastside beach. We encounted incredibly fast running crabs and alls orts of bugs. We had to scale the side of the hill that has been eaten away by the tide. We found the old stone steps that lead up to the ruins. However, there were a large number is webs with dozens of poisonous spiders so we chickened out!
We also tried to go up the steps that are at the very right end of the parking lot, but again, way too many spiders! At the top of teh steps, you can see a temple dog.
I really wish I had a stick! I regret not exploring! =(
yeah, I’ve seen both of those I just haven’t made it into them. I think if you didn’t know what you were looking at you could def miss out on the salt factory. I know it is right there, but it doesn’t say “salt factory” to the best of my knowledge/memory – I had to come home and google the name of the place to find out what went on there. Seemed like they had an amazing view from their upper balcony though! They are on my to-do list when my husband finally gets back to the island. 🙂
Thanks for this post! I’m lucky enough to live near the water in Uruma City (Gushikawa) and I get to look out my windows at Ikei and the other islands daily. I never get tired of this great view! They are great islands to explore. To make a day trip out of it, you can also visit the salt factory. (It’s on either Henza or Miyagi but you can’t really miss it.) Also, there is a quaint little cafe, right before the red bridge. It’s perfect for soba or taco rice, or even just an ice coffee and ice cream!