So far I’ve written articles on Ie Island and Kouri Island—nearby islands that are easily accessible from the Okinawa main island. But there is another island that is even easier to get to using Okinawa Airport Shuttle. And this island is called Minna Island, also known as Croissant Island!
It’s so easy to get to that you’d wonder why you didn’t go there first. My name is Umi, an editor, and this time I went straight to Minna Island from the airport.
To catch Okinawa Airport Shuttle at Naha Airport, go to bus stop #1 at the Domestic Terminal or bus stop #2 at the International Terminal. (The picture shows the bus stop at the Domestic Terminal.) The buses don’t have change machines, so either purchase a ticket online ahead of time, or have the exact amount of cash for your ticket for smooth boarding.
It’s a 2 hour-and-20-minute ride (including the bathroom break) from Naha Airport to Motobu-cho Kanko Kyokai Mae bus stop (Motobu Kariyushi Market).
It was around lunchtime, so I arrived hungry. There were lots of good-looking restaurants at Motobu Kariyushi Market, but I fought against my temptation.
I first walked to Toguchi Port, which is located next to Tancha Park—only a 6-minute walk. Toguchi Port is different from Motobu Port, which has ferries to and from Ie Island.
I bought a ferry ticket to Minna Island. The number of ferries each day varies depending on the season, so I recommend looking it up ahead of time. Choose your departure and return date/time before buying a ticket. A roundtrip ticket is \1,710.
After purchasing my ticket, I visited Motobu Town Market and the surrounding area. I carried my luggage around since Toguchi Port can’t keep your luggage.
Exit the port, follow the street that extends in front of it, then turn right and you’ll soon arrive at Motobu Town Market.
Turn left at the corner of the market, and you’ll see a long line of people waiting to eat at Kishimoto Shokudo, a famous Okinawa soba restaurant. I had to try it since I was in the area, so I got in line. I thought it was going to be a while, but the line moved quicker than expected. I visited in mid-September; it was still very hot, but it was cool in the shade with a comfortable breeze.
I got inside the restaurant after waiting for about 20 minutes. The options were large Okinawa soba (\650) or small Okinawa soba (\500). They seemed to have had jushi (Okinawan seasoned rice), too, but it was already sold out when I was there. I ordered small Okinawa soba.
The noodles came in a very flavorful bonito broth. I usually don’t drink the soup in noodle bowls, but that wasn’t the case with this one—I poured some koregusu (Okinawan hot sauce made of chilies infused in awamori) and drank it all up! Its richness makes it more than just a soup; “extracts of all sorts of deliciousness” may be a better description!?
I headed back to the port. The path along the water had a nostalgic feel.
Boarding begins about 5 minutes before departure. New Wing Minna II is the name of the ferry that took us to the island.
It’s only a 15-minute ride from the port to Minna Island. It went by in the blink of an eye. You know you’re getting close when the water color changes from dark blue to emerald green. Here comes the white sandy beach!!
I stayed overnight on the island, so I checked in at my minshuku (Japanese-style bed and breakfast) first and then went on a walk.
A shisa with a merry expression was standing at the entrance to my minshuku, Coral Reef inn Minna.
The island only has a couple buildings: an elementary school, middle school, a handful of lodging options, and a few light meal restaurants. The population is said to be only about 40.
I walked around the island remembering the map I saw at the port.
This is a street that runs near the elementary school and middle school. It was really soothing hearing the birds chirp and feeling the breeze. I found some papayas and bananas growing along the road.
If you visit during the swimming season, you will be able to eat zenzai (Okinawan shaved ice with red beans) and light meals at some shops.
I have to confess.
I was initially going to walk the island from one end to another, but decided not to after a random person I met told me that the island is home to a number of habu snakes (Okinawan venomous snakes). You might want to keep out of bushy areas and jungles with no paths. I also saw a sign that said, “Beware of Habu Snakes.”
I came back to the port after fully exploring the island on foot. Unlike earlier in the day, the port was very quiet since the last ferry had already departed.
Getting to walk on a beach with so few other people is definitely one of the perks of staying overnight. You can see Ie Island in the distance, beyond the crystal-clear water. I was determined to see the sunset on Minna Island, especially because I was lucky enough to be there on a sunny day.
I waited for the sunset in the comfortable breeze.
Here’s a picture of the sunset I saw from the seawall. No words can truly express the emotions I felt gazing at such majestic scenery.
I was tempted to sit at the beach forever, but it was around dinnertime. On a small island like this, no places serve dinner other than lodging facilities.
I was so determined to see the sunrise the following morning, but the sun was already high up when I woke up.
It was still early, but marine shops were already getting themselves ready for the day.
I walked to the lighthouse before breakfast. It was a beautiful day. The clouds that extended high up reminded me of pillars in a hallway.
I had the beach all to myself. My feet sunk into the white powdery sand with every step as I headed towards the lighthouse at the western end of the island.
As I continued on, an oddly shaped rocky area captured my interest. It looked like the waves had eaten away at it. I was really tempted to check it out, but I was due back at the lodge.
The beach was filled with corals. Apparently, this area is home to beautiful coral reefs.
I took the 9am ferry back to Motobu. The port was still pretty empty when I arrived.
The ferry’s deck is on the rear, so if you want to spend some time watching the Minna Island floats away in the ocean, you’ll have the chance on your return trip.
Minna Island is a popular destination for marine activities, like snorkeling, scuba diving, and parasailing. But spending some quiet, relaxing time on the island is also pretty great.
◇To get to Minna Island◇
Take Okinawa Airport Shuttle from Naha to Motobu-cho Kanko Kyokai Mae (Motobu Kariyushi Market). Then take a 6-minute walk from the bus stop to Toguchi Port. The ferry ride from Toguchi Port to Minna Island is about 15 minutes. The ferry departure time varies depending on the season, so do check the ferry schedule ahead of time.
・Okinawa Airport Shuttle
An express bus that connects Naha Airport and Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium in 2.5 hours.
Going from Naha Airport to Nago Shiyakusho Mae (Nago City Hall) takes about 1 hour and 50 minutes. Reservations can be made on the website.
Go to their website or use their app to check routes, timetables, and location of bus stops for local bus services. Available in English, Chinese (simplified and traditional), and Korean.
・Japan-wide taxi app
You can also call for a taxi. Toguchi Port has a phone stand that connects you directly to a taxi company. It’s free of charge.
Coral Reef inn Minna
※The content of the article is current as of late September 2018. It is subject to change without notice.