Miyakojima (Hirara), Miyako, Japan
Miyako Island is 300 km south of Okinawa island, and is famous for its beaches, said to be Japan’s most beautiful. Maehama beach is for swimmers, while Yoshino has great coral reefs for snorkelers and the white-sand Sunayama has dramatic rock formations. Cape Higashi-Hennazaki is a long, narrow cape with the picturesque lighthouse at the end. The city’s Botanical Garden boasts over 1600 tropical varieties. Nakasone Tuyumya was an important leader of Miyako and the Okinawan people in the 16th century. Near the port in Hirara is memorial to him and his descendants, a designated national cultural asset. At the island’s north end, the graceful Ikema Ohashi bridge leads to the small Ikema Island.