Scenic Drives in Okinawa

Think about of Okinawa and most likely you’ll be thinking about the white sandy beaches and turquoise water that abounds around these islands. Back in the early 1990’s the government began connecting some of these islands with long winding bridges, and by doing so it added another twist to the beach experience; a twist that draws crowds of tourists every season to make the unique scenic drives over the beautiful waters of Okinawa.

Ikema Bridge

Open to the public in 1992, Ikema Bridge connects Miyakojima with Ikema Island. This is the oldest of the long bridges found in the prefecture and one that looks its best at sunrise. The drive across the bridge is a short one so to better enjoy it, stop by the terraces at either end of the bridge to get a better look. At both ends you’ll find small beaches but if you want swim with the bridge in the background it is best to do so on the north end as the currents on the south end are stronger. But don’t stop at the bridge, Ikema Island offers its own pristine beaches like Ikizu and Funakuzu.

Ikema Bridge
Ikema Bridge

Irabu Bridge

This is the longest toll-free bridge in Japan and after its opening in 2015 it ended up connecting 5 of the 7 islets that make up the Miyakojima District. For visitors, Irabu Bridge is not only an awesome engineering feat to admire, it is also passageway to another island icon, the Toriike Pond on the north shore of Irabu Island. To get a better sense of the bridge’s size, you can make the drive to Irabu and up to the Makiyama Observation Deck where entrance is free and the view stunning.

Irabu Bridge
Irabu Bridge

Kurima Bridge

When it open to the public in 1995, Kurima Bridge became the second bridge of its kind in Okinawa Prefecture. This is another one of Miyakojima’s bridges and it connects Miyako Island with Kurima Island in the southwest. Driving across you will get to enjoy the turquoise waters below just as with other bridges in the region, but better yet, venture out on a walk to the middle of bridge and take in the view of Maehama Beach and Irabu Bridge back in the horizon.

Kurima Bridge
Kurima Bridge

Kouri Bridge

Although not the oldest nor the longest, Kouri Bridge is probably the most visited bridge out of all the long bridges in Okinawa Prefecture. As with the other bridges, the drive across the bridge and the views of it are stunning. What sets this bridge apart from the others is the lively atmosphere on the beach below. With several cafes, food trucks, and marine rental shops, Kouri beach is one of the coolest hangout spots on this part of Okinawa. If you want to see the bridge from a higher point of view and learn about the wonder of shells, then go pass the bridge and visit the Kouri Ocean Tower.

Kouri Bridge
Kouri Bridge

Niraikanai Bridge

Unlike the rest of the bridges on this list, Niraikanai Bridge does not connect Honto with any other island. It is actually part of Road 86 which cuts through the Nanjo District as you drive down to the beaches on the Pacific Ocean. Driving through the tunnel at the beginning and down the winding bridge is a thrilling ride. For the most picturesque view of the bridge, the ocean and Chinen Cape all in one frame, park your car on the narrow path just before the tunnel and walk up to the observation deck about 100 metres away.

Niraikanai Bridge
Niraikanai Bridge
Facility Name
Ikema Ohashi Bridge
Address
Okinawa Pref. Miyakojimashi Hirara
Introduction
The Ikema Ohashi Bridge is a 1,425-meter-long bridge connecting Miyako Island and Ikema Island. It had a total construction cost of 9.9 billion yen and opened in February 1992. The bridge is popular as the perfect driving course due to it running over very clear emerald green seas. It is approximately 35 minutes by car from Miyako Airport.
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN
Facility Name
Kumaohashi
Address
Okinawa Pref. Miyakojimashi Shimoji
Phone
0980766986
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN
Facility Name
Kouriohashi Bridge
Address
Okinawa Pref. Kunigamigunnakijinson Kouri
Introduction
Kouriohashi Bridge is a 1,960 meter-long bridge that links Kouri-shima (Kouri Island) with Yagaji-shima (Yagaji Island). Since the Bridge opened in 2005, it has become a very popular place to enjoy an exciting drive in which you seem almost to be driving across the sea itself. Driving over the bridge really is a very pleasant experience, as you get superb views of the emerald green ocean and can feel the sea breeze.
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN
Facility Name
Nirai Kanai Bridge 
Address
Okinawa Pref. Nanjoushi Chinen Chinen
Parking Lot
Not available
Introduction
This 1,200-meter bridge leads from Prefectural Road 86 to National Route 331. The name “Nirai Kanai” refers to the utopia beyond the horizon where the gods reside. The beautiful curve of the bridge makes it appear as if it’s floating in mid-air, and at its highest point is an observation deck above the tunnel that offers a spectacular view. The sight of the cobalt blue sea sparkling beneath the sun is sure to enchant you.
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN

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PLACES IN THIS ARTICLE

  • dummy image

    Kumaohashi

    Travel/Sightseeing
    Okinawa Pref. Miyakojimashi Shimoji
  • Ikema Ohashi Bridge image

    Ikema Ohashi Bridge

    Travel/Sightseeing
    Okinawa Pref. Miyakojimashi Hirara
  • Nirai Kanai Bridge  image

    Nirai Kanai Bridge 

    Travel/Sightseeing
    Okinawa Pref. Nanjoushi Chinen Chinen
  • Irabu-ohashi Bridge image

    Irabu-ohashi Bridge

    Travel/Sightseeing
    Okinawa Pref. Miyakojimashi Hirara Kugai
  • Kouriohashi Bridge image

    Kouriohashi Bridge

    Travel/Sightseeing
    Okinawa Pref. Kunigamigunnakijinson Kouri
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