Our last two days in Okinawa were packed with activities. We woke up earlier the next day to get on the road and travel up the coast to more exotic locations. Okinawa was vibrantly alive our last two days. We watched the water crash crystal blue, turquoise, and teal against the coast as we drove to our first stop.
Best Hike and Waterfall on Okinawa: Hiji
When we finally arrived, it became clearer that Okinawa was a different beast from Korea. Colorful butterflies and lizards flew and darted around us as we hiked through the super-lush foliage. A few signs warned of dangerous animals, which wasn’t helped when we moreover began talking about how deadly much of the fauna was. (I’m looking at you, jellyfish.)
The beginning of the trail was a wooden ramp, but after a few minutes, it turned into a nature path. When we saw that we could diverge again and follow the river, we decided, what the hell, let’s make this magical.
We took a slight pause here to skip rocks. Alex and Danny bonded instantly, as they were both having a lot of fun doing this. I watched and took pictures; eventually, I decided to try a few myself. Much to my amazement, I was finally able after so many years to skip a few! I’ve got a video to prove it :-).
Eric, meanwhile, was getting felt up by a lizard. Twice.
We got back to the trail to find that we had to cross the river a few more times. Along the way, we found old and no-longer-in-use fire pits and some spectacular views of the rocky river. Finally, the Hiji waterfall appeared before us. We were worried when looking at pictures online that it might be small, but it definitely didn’t disappoint. Another family with their little girl were also there. She kept staring at us adorably. We stayed here for a bit, talking and absorbing the moment.
It always seems like some of the more fun things to do, the things I think I’ll really remember on these trips, are the moments that are basically free.
Collecting Sea-Glass by the Beach
Back on the road, we picked up some curry from a convenience store before heading to the next location: the beach! Now, if you’d ask me to buy a meal to heat up from a local gas station back in the states, I’d laugh at you. I would never trust anything there besides donuts, coffee (actually, hard pass), and other processed, packaged goods. Here, it’s a different story. You may be surprised, but in Asian stores, the food is actually pretty scrumptious and cheap. We chowed down as we drove. Though it was not as warm as the previous day, we arrived at the beach and got into our suits to enjoy searching for sea-glass and swimming in the water.
Brief Pause for Some History of Okinawa!
I mentioned before that Shuri Castle was the political capital of the Ryukyu Kingdom. But before the kingdom was entirely consolidated, it existed as three separate nations. They were Namzan to the south, Chuzan in the middle, and Hokuzan in the north. Shuri was the capital of Chuzan before it conquered everything else, and just the same, Nakijin was the capital of Hokuzan. It sits alongside a deep valley and its ancient walls still stand since it was last rebuilt.
As you can tell, Sunday was our adventure day. A short jaunt was all it took to get to Nakijin Castle, some ruins nearby that Eric says are his favorite on the island. Luckily for us, UNESCO named it a World Heritage site. This area is famous for the trade routes along Southeast Asia hundreds of years ago. Furthermore, the locals used it as a spiritual center.
Exploring the Nakijin Castle Ruins of Okinawa
Nakijin Castle was a beautiful area. We saw the sun begin to set against the walls and the sea to the east. In the spring, the area colors pink with blossoms, drawing many tourists as well. We even got to meet the resident cats. Plus, a local vendor let Alex grind sugarcane to make juice for us. I even got to try some fertility-drink — all in the name of science.
My Advice for Best Ice Cream on Okinawa: Blue Seal
We stopped at a burger place called Captain Kangaroo Cafe on the way home. Danny and I have been craving them, being trapped away from any good ones the last three months. They had some spicy burgers that blew away my taste buds.
We also stopped to get ice cream at Blue Seal, a famous place on Okinawa. That night, we celebrated more by showing Eric a Netflix series called Black Mirror before continuing with more board games and wine. It was a successful night. We were sad that the next morning meant leaving Okinawa.
Early Morning Run and Sunrise
As such, Eric, Danny, and I woke up early to go for a run to see the sunrise. We ran out of Eric’s compound and down the street till we reached the beach. Though it was a little cloudy, the sky cleared enough to give us a great view of the sun while the waves all lapped at the shore around us. They were lapping so much that one particularly wave caught me off guard and soaked my shoes, and this just after they had finally dried from the previous day at Hiji. Even so, I’m glad that I’ve now gotten to see a sunrise over two different oceans. And coincidentally, I saw both while on vacations to see him!
Amazing Brunch with View at RCafe in American Village
When we got back, we realized our flight was delayed twice, so we were actually leaving two hours later, a beautiful blessing since we decided to introduce Danny to the wonderful world of Portal 2. To end our time in Japan, we went out to lunch at a place called R Cafe in American Village. We ate on the deck overlooking the sea with sizzling Canadian bacon, fluffy eggs, and fried french toast. American Village before us, we walked around a bit, found the SEGA Arcade, and became children for half an hour. We played some drum game and explored the rest of what looked like an incredibly entertaining place. Afterwards, we ambled back to the car to take us to the airport.
It was hard saying goodbye to these two. I don’t know when I’ll see them next, though it will likely be another two years at least. I was so thankful to get this chance to see a special part of their lives. Before we boarded the plane, we stocked up on Japanese candy because of the free voucher we got for our delayed flight! Score!
When we arrived back in Seoul, it was a frigid 25 degrees and it was surely evident winter finally arrived in Korea. Goodbye 80 degrees!
What About You?
Have you ever traveled to see a friend in another country? If you could go some place in Japan, where would you go and what would you do? Let me below and subscribe!