Kumejima, Okinawa

I love Okinawa. Japan’s tropical archipelago is a wonderful destination for those seeking a respite from the daily grind. Okinawa island has some wonderful history, sightseeing spots, and a local culture somewhat different to that of the rest of Japan. I loved my first visit there, and I was fortunate enough to see the unique Shuri Castle before it burned down.

Okinawa is also a great place to simply enjoy the beach and relax for a few days, and that’s what I did this time on the resort island of Kumejima.

Kumejima is off the beaten path, at least by Okinawan standards.No huge crowds to contend with and a very laid-back atmosphere. It’s a different world, even compared to the main island.

Going to Kumejima was easy enough. You can catch a 20-minute flight from Naha, but I got a direct flight to the small island from Haneda airport. Choosing a cheaper direct flight meant we had to wake up at 3.40am, but it was worth it. As usual, flying domestically is a pleasure in Japan, as the lines are lightning quick and no ID is required.

Once in Kumejima, we took a 30-minute bus to our hotel, Kumejima Eef Beach Hotel. On the way there, there are kilometres of sugar cane plantations, an immediate reminder that you’re not on mainland Japan anymore. It seems our hotel was frequented by Hayao Miyazaki, and it’s the legendary filmmaker who designed the hotel’s logo. I wonder if he came up with any brilliant ideas while relaxing here.

We arrived at the hotel early, and we still had about 6 hours before we could check-in, so we immediately went to the beach in front of the hotel. The reason many people go to Okinawa is because of its clear waters, and I am happy to report that this beach didn’t disappoint. Though I must say, there is a lot of dead coral on the sand, so unless you want your feet pierced, you better wear wetsuit shoes.

After a swim, we had lunch at the hotel restaurant, a bowl of tuna sashimi in my case. We chose the terrace despite the heat. Here we encountered a sparrow who I assume must come every meal time to beg the guests for food. I gave it some rice and called him Mike. It was still too early to check-in, so we tried the hotel’s pool as well. Despite it being mostly cloudy and my best efforts all day, I got sunburnt, my skin got red and I started hurting. It’s a family curse. What can you do.

We finally checked in, and the view from our room was amazing. I could stare at the sea all day. There was one weird problem in that the toilet wouldn’t stop flushing. It would just go on for hours. I later found that pouring water in the toilet would solve the problem. Odd.

We then went to the beach again, this time with a small pop-up tent we brought, and I enjoyed reading by the sea. This time the tide was really low, and we could walk hundreds of meters into the sea and see all kinds of sea creatures like hermit crabs, starfish, tropical fish, or sea cucumbers.

We had dinner at a local izakaya called Kameyoshi. We unfortunately misjudged how big the portions would be, but we managed to finish everything. One of the highlights was kumesoba, a local version of Okinawa soba with flat noodles made locally. After dinner we enjoyed a Blue Seal salty milk ice cream, one of the most popular ice creams from the local Okinawan brand.

The next day, at breakfast, we chose the terrace and were greeted by Mike again. This time I gave him some bread crumbs. Just as we left the hotel after getting ready for the beach, it started pouring rain. I decided to swim in the pool in the rain instead. We were really full from breakfast, so we skipped lunch, walked around, and headed to the beach once the rain had stopped. The tide was really low again and we would have to walk a lot to be able to swim, so we went to the hotel again and had a local, blue-coloured beer in the pool, which had some underwater stools to sit on. I don’t know why the beer is blue, but drinking in the pool felt great.

For dinner, we had a barbecue at the hotel’s restaurant’s terrace, and we then went for a night walk on the beach and enjoyed the starry night over a drink.

On our third and final full day, we went on a boat and snorkelling tour. Not before feeding Mike, of course. From the boat, we saw tortoises, some of them at least a metre long. We stopped at a place with shallow waters and snorkelled for about half an hour, seeing coral and tropical fish. We then headed to Hate no Hama, a beautiful beach that is part of an atoll next to Kumejima. Here we enjoyed the beach and its beautiful white sand, and this time with no dead coral to hurt your feet. We met a likeable couple from Osaka who seemed interested in where I’m from.

In the afternoon, we went out to a restaurant that serves taco rice, another local dish, and we encountered the same couple from Osaka, so we had lunch together. After that, we went to the pool one last time. We ate on the terrace again for dinner and watched an Okinawan music concert. The gig was entertaining enough by itself, but it was definitely spiced up by some of the locals, who seemed to be extremely drunk and basically forced everyone to dance. After dinner, we went to the beach one last time, had a drink while stargazing, and headed to bed. The next day, there was nothing left to do but to have breakfast outside and feed Mike before saying goodbye.

For a three-night trip, Kumejima was a wonderful place to disconnect and relax. There’s nothing much to do but to enjoy the quiet and the beautiful sea and sea creatures, but sometimes that’s all you need.

Hi, I’m Sergio.
I’m from Spain, lived in the UK for seven years and came to Japan in 2012.
I majored in journalism in London and have been teaching English in Tokyo.
I like traveling, cycling, photography, movies, and spending time with friends.
I wrote articles about life in Japan as a foreigner and anything that I might find interesting.
My email is ” sergio.dom.jpn@gmail.com “, by all means contact me about anything!


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