Friday, November 15, 2019


I'm late, I know. I've got years worth of posts I've drafted but never finished. But I've decided to no longer fear the delay or feel ashamed for my lateness. Accept your tardiness! Embrace procrastination! Tomorrow! Or some other day!

Anyway, on to the subject at hand.

It's a short flight, and along the way you get a good view of the Kerama islands.

We usually do something for our birthdays. This year I turned 50, so we flew to Kumejima island at the end of June. It's a smaller Okinawan island only 30 minutes by propeller plane from Naha airport. If you like you can take a 3-hour ferry from Naha, and bring a car or a bicycle.

Small island. Small airplane. I will say this though: These Bombardiers are really comfortable. Quiet, smooth and with plenty of legroom. Nothing like turboprops of old.

Kumejima is a small island. The taxi driver showed us the islands only traffic light (he ran a red light), and one of the two convenience stores. We stayed at a hostel in Shimajiri on the eastern end of the island; the entire trip from the airport on the western edge takes less than 25 minutes.

The "tatami rock" is one of the few real tourist spots. It's vertical columns of volcanic rock that solidified in a hexagonal pattern. It's pretty, and during low tide there's plenty of small animals in the rock pools that form.

Sugar cane fields. Very Okinawa.

People mostly come here to dive or snorkel, though I did see some surfers as well. The island itself is fairly undeveloped, and I understand this is by choice. People have seen the effects of rapid development on Miyakojima island, so the land-owners here have seemed to agree not to sell to big hotel developments. And a good thing too; the peace and quiet is a major asset, and something I hope won't change soon.

The village is very quiet at night. Peaceful or unsettling depends on your mood, I guess.
There are a dozen restaurants, mostly izakayas, in the local area. During the day the village seems almost deserted and you wonder how these places can stay in business. The looks are deceiving, though, as almost all tourists leave early in the morning for diving or snorkel charters. Once they return they fill the places — you need to book a table in the morning if you want to have dinner around 7-8 and not have to wait.

There are only a few places to eat lunch. One of them does have pretty good shaved ice for dessert. Ice cream and brown sugar topping.

I went running, of course, and the best place to run, by far, was south along the east coast to Shimajiri village, then follow the road south around the cape, then across and back again. It's about 10km, and the road around the cape crosses a large ridge with some very steep sections. But the scenery feels almost primordial; it's a real jungle dotted with a few farms. It is wild enough that you're advised to run along the center of the road to avoid startling snakes resting near the edge.

The south-eastern end of the island is strikingly beautiful.

This is a paradise if you are a diver. It's also great place to visit if you just want to get away from the the main island for a couple of days. I want to go again, and I'm sure we will.