Good things do come in small packages. Hamahiga isn’t big, but makes up for it in character. Accessible via Henza, it’s a 40-minute drive from Chatan, in Uruma district. It’s easy to find if you follow Highway 85 towards Hiyagon and watch for signs. Past Uruma’s industrial area, the drive is pretty, especially crossing onto Henza.

Sacred spots

Once crossing over, if you go left, then pass a small marina on the left and housing on the right, you’ll see a grey boulder and sign pointing to Shirumichu shrine and cave. I recommend a visit here. Follow past another marina to a car park at the end. Beyond little Shirumichu Beach are stairs to the shrine. This is hallowed ground, said to be the home of the first Ryukyu kami (gods), Shirimichu and Amamichu.

The cave is barred from public use, but you can still view the outside, with benches to sit, reflect, or pray. The cave houses a precious “female stone.” Women and couples often visit to pray for fertility, leaving offerings of shells and coral at the entrance. On your way out, visit the little shacks for kimono or shaved ice; the owner is friendly. Amamichu, mentioned above, was one of the first Ryukyu kami, said to be the founder of Okinawa itself. You can see his tomb on Hamahiga. Remember the first marina I mentioned? Park there, and two minutes away you’ll see a path leading to some tall, elegant rocks. Within this, up some steps, is the Amamichu’s tomb. Again, this is a sacred place. If you see people praying, please be respectful and don’t disturb them. It’s speculated that Shirumichu is also entombed here.

Never too far from a beach!

Head back to the car and take a right, to the other side of the island. Guess what? Another marina! The houses all have fishing nets hung over, and fishing buoys strung from trees. There’s another big car park with toilet facilities on your left (if you follow the road until it ends), and a larger and busier beach on the right, with views across to the bridge between Henza and Hamahiga.

Fresh food and ocean views.

Peckish? Santorini Cafe is a nice spot for lunch. A short drive from Amamichu’s tomb (heading right from there), it’s on the second floor, with ocean views! The cafe seems to be family-run, and is clean and comfortable. They offer two sets. I chose the Hamahiga set, with minestrone or pumpkin soup, an entree of chicken, pork (250 yen extra), or red snapper (350 yen extra), rice or bread, and hot or iced tea or coffee. Everything was fresh and flavourful, and the pumpkin soup was the best I’ve tasted. After the meal, you even get small slices of cake. I received ginger cake, which I love! At 1500 yen, it’s a good price; you get a lot for your money. They have an extensive drinks menu, too, with shakes, smoothies, fruit juices, and alcoholic beverages.

It’s easy to spend an entire day here exploring its shrines, caves, and tombs, or whiling the hours away on one of its impressive beaches. Embrace history on Hamahiga!

Santorini Cafe Opening Hours

Thu – Tue: 11am – 6pm
Wed – Closed

Santorini Cafe

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Hamahiga Island & Santorini Cafe