We pick up a rental car at Louis Vuitton, or at least the large store housing LV and a host of other luxury brands. Being unaccustomed to entering such places, we could not find the rental car office. We wandered around outside this large, imposing building never dreaming the rental car counter would be inside.
First, we drive out of Naha and on to Ikei-jima to visit Ikei Beach. We take the Kaichu-doro by Kin-wan (bay) which is an interesting route. We cross two islands to Ikei-jima which is quiet island mostly given over to sugar cane. Ikei beach, I would suggest, is best avoided. It had no particular merit as far as I could see, yet charged 200 yen just to enter it. There are, I suppose, miles of empty beach. Why charge for this spot? I have no idea.
From there, we drove up the east side of the island to stop at a nameless place, in that I don’t know its name, to walk on a beautiful, empty beach of coral fragments and shells. The weather is brightening but the brisk wind means a jacket is necessary.
Moving on north past Camp Schwab, with its valiant, if tiny, Anti Osprey demonstration, we stop at the Hirugi Woods of Gesashi Bay. Hirugi is a mangrove swamp and is the most extensive mangrove woods on the Okinawan mainland. There is wooden promenade that makes it possible to enter a little way into the trees, so we walk for a while.
From Hirugi, we drive through Yanbaru no mori, a semi-tropical forest in the northern Okinawa mainland, and eventually reach Cape Hedo. This is a wild and windy spot on this particular day. This cape, created by coral uplift, affords a lot of space to wander around and enjoy the sea views and craggy headlands. Unfortunately, we have to be 50 km. south to check into our accommodation. The landlady is waiting for us. So, after a brief look at the turbulent, emerald tide we reluctantly head back to the car.
The landlady is still waiting when we arrive at our lodging. She shows us a small room on the first floor of a typical Okinawan concrete house with a large veranda. There is some kind of coffee business on the ground floor.
The author is a long term resident of Japan who has and continues to travel the country extensively. Avoiding highways where possible, the author has driven from Kagoshima in Kyushu to Wakanai in Hokkaido covering 20,000 plus kilometres and counting.