One of the charms of Okinawa are trips to the nearby islands. You might think it’s not easy to visit these islands, however, there is an island you can easily reach from the main island in just 30 minutes!
Our editor Umi easily visited Ie Island using Okinawa’s new limousine bus service [Okinawa Airport Shuttle] along with a local bus and ferry!!
Ie Island has a beautifully shaped peak that can be seen from the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, Ocean Expo Park’s Emerald Beach, or Bise Village. Maybe you can spot the beautiful beach beneath the peak.
To get to Ie Island take the ferry from Motobu Port.
Umi took the Okinawa Airport Shuttle expressway bus to Nago City. After spending one night in Nago she took the early morning local bus to Motobu Port.
The timetable of the local bus can be found on the Bus Navi Okinawa website http://routefinder-okinawa.com/search?Lang=en or with an app.
Umi took the number 65 bus from the Nago Shiyakushomae (Nago jujiromuke) bus stop located across from Nago City Office that is known for its unique architecture. (The Okinawa Airport Shuttle bound for Naha also leaves from here.)
Heading towards Motobu Port.
The bus will stop in front of the Motobu Port Terminal (port for Ie Island ferries). Roundtrip tickets are ¥1,370 and it takes 30 min from Motobu to Ie Island.
Be sure not to lose your return ticket!
After departing, the ferry goes under a bridge and you pass by two islands on your left side. The larger of the two is Sesoko Island.
The small flat island that is shaped like a croissant is Minna Island.
If you see the island from above it looks like this.
You can visit Sesoko Island by using the Sesoko Bridge. It is possible to visit Minna Island by ferry from Toguchi Port in Motobu Town, but that adventure can wait for another time….
You eventually see the peak Mt. Gusuku. You’ve arrived at Ie Island!!
Ie Island is small with a circumference of 22 km. Because it is flat it’s possible to ride around it on a bicycle. An important thing on your trip will be arranging transportation! There are several rent-a-cycle, rent-a-bike, rent-a-car, and taxi services.
On this trip Umi stayed on Ie Island for just 3 hours, so she rented a tiny electric car. It was such a small cute car!
Umi drove clockwise around the Island.
Heading west, while gazing at the ocean, there were tobacco fields next to the road.
Her first destination was Niya-thiya Cave.
Niya-thiya Cave is also called Sennin Gama (thousand-person cave) due to the spaciousness of the inner cave. It became a spiritual place where gods and goddesses were worshiped and is still considered sacred.
In the cave there is the hijiru rock. If you can lift this rock it is said that you will be blessed with children.
After receiving power from this sacred spot, Umi continued west to the Ie Island lighthouse.
When she arrived at her destination the lighthouse was on the other side of an American military base fence. Nevertheless, it looked very beautiful against the blue sky, the blue ocean, and green fields.
This is the westernmost point of the island! The wind was strong! Umi could see the clouds rolling by!!
Continuing her journey toward the northern part of the Island, Umi headed for Wajee Cliff. There is a spring where freshwater bubbles out.
As Umi drove along the road there were fields on both sides. It wasn't tobacco nor sugar cane, but grass for pasture!
These fields are for the wagyu (Japanese cattle) on Ie Island! Wagyu cattle on Ie Island have black hair and are a source of premium beef for mainland Japan. Ie Island beef is not common and a delicacy.
The freshwater spring was accessible via a straight road in front of the Ie Island Airport. If going by bicycle it seemed possible to ride along the American military auxiliary airfield.
Umi arrived at the Wajee Observation Point.
What a superb view with amazing colors!!
But where is the spring water….?
Well, the spring water is right below where the coast is. You can find the fresh water bubbling out when you go out at low tide. At times the tide pools become filled with freshwater.
If you look closely at the photo there are some people gathered near the tide pools along the coast. I wonder if they are tasting the fresh water bubbling out?
Other attractions which tourists can visit on the northern coast of the island are the Easter Lily Park that blooms from April to May, and the Ie Hibiscus Garden which blooms from Autumn though Spring.
Umi’s next destination was Ie Beach. The sandy beach is visible across the water from Emerald Beach. Situated on the south-east coast of the island it is reached via curving roads between the ocean and farmland.
At the Youth Excursion Village you pay ¥100 per adult (¥50 per child) at the parking area and then go through.
This is Ie Beach. Right opposite Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium.
There is soft white sand and an emerald green ocean that merges with azure blue.
The beach is open from May 1st to October 31st. Not only can you enjoy swimming in the water, but you can book to play a game of beach volleyball and BBQ (Reservations are required).
The beach is on the east coast of the island. Since the port is on the southern coast, Umi had visited the north, south, east and west of the island!
This was all rushed through by car in a little over 2 hours. Umi encountered a series of beautiful ocean landscapes, but realized that this experience is not to be rushed. It is meant to be enjoyed with ample time for relaxation and she wished that she had taken her time enjoying something tasty whilst touring the island!
Umi’s adventures on Ie Island are not over! Next time she will climb Mt. Gusuku, the highest peak, and the symbol of Ie Island.
Information about the journey
・Okinawa Airport Shuttle
The express bus connects Naha Airport to Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium in two and a half hours.
Reservations can be made through the company website.
・Bus Navi Okinawa
You can research the locations of bus stops, timetables and local routes through the website or using the app. Available in English, Chinese (Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese) and Korean.
・Japan taxi app
・Iejima Official Homepage
You can check the schedule for the ferry and operating conditions.
・Ie Island tourist pamphlet
・A selection of transportation on Ie Island
■Iejima transportation (Taxi service)
■Iejima tourist bus (Rent-a-bus, Rent-a-car)
■Tama Rent A Kikaku (Rent-a-cycle, Rent-a-bike,Rent-a-car)
※Note: The information shared on this article is based on the information of July 2018, and can be changed or altered without any notice.