Enjoy a winter hike and delicious lunch in northernmost Okinawa
The wind is shifting to the north, Okinawa is less humid and it’s looking like autumn-wintery weather has come to the sub-tropical island.
While it sounds crazy to hike or do any physical activities during the blazing hot summer, now is the best season to hit the outdoor spots where you’ve always wanted to go.
My companion and I visited Yanbaru National Park Daisekirinzan recently and we were very pleased. Daisekirinzan is near Cape Hedo, the northernmost point of Okinawa, and offers a few trekking trails ranging from family friendly/barrier-free to a 30-minute jaunt.
A pair of tennis shoes is highly recommended, and long-sleeves and pants are a must unless you cover yourself with mosquito repellent. I forgot the repellent spray and in short sleeves accumulated uncountable bites.
The Yanbaru Forest trail is my favorite course as I get to see several 100-year-old banyan trees that are just gorgeous and magnificent. It is hard to find old trees in Okinawa due to the war, but when I see them, I appreciate their history and everything they have witnessed. They are also a nice photo opportunity.
The sun comes in from between the banyan tree branches and the soft light makes the tree glow. It’s quite peaceful and secret.
Churaumi Ocean View trail offers a great view from the higher point of the mountain, which affords a panoramic view of Cape Hedo. If it’s sunny, I can spot Yoron Island of Kagoshima prefecture on the horizon.
There are many funny-looking rocks along the trails, like Ghost Face, Godzilla and such, and it’s fun for small children to find them while walking the trail.
After taking on a few trails, my companion and I felt very hungry, so we went to one of my favorite restaurants in Okinawa. I’ve been here for almost 13 years, so that means a lot.
Kunigami Minato Shokudo, or Fisherman’s Dining, is conveniently located on Route 58 near Kunigami Road Station. It offers terrace seats, so it’s military friendly under current coronavirus restrictions. It also offers takeout as well.
Regardless the pandemic, I have always chosen the terrace seats because of the view. The diner is by the seaport and has a beautiful ocean-front view.
Its specialty is freshly caught fish from the next-door port, and the deep-fried mahi-mahi is absolutely delicious. It’s the best fried fish I’ve ever had and I am not exaggerating. The crust is super crunchy, and the flesh is super moist and has a fantastic texture. It also comes with delicious tartar sauce.
I usually order the fried fish served with the catch-of-the-day sashimi set for 1,200 yen or $12. The plate presentation is almost a work of art and super impressive, and the sashimi is fresh and delicious.
And don’t forget to grab a bag of “tankan” tangerine, sold at roadside stands on the way. Sweet granny or grandpa will greet you, and you will get a delicious and amazing healthy snack for a week.
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Directions: Yanbaru National Park Daisekirinzan is about 62 miles from Camp Foster. Driving time is an hour and 45 minutes on the expressway or 1 ½ hours on Route 58.
Times: Open daily 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; last entry is 4:30 p.m.
Costs: Admission is 1,200 yen, about or $12, for adults; 550 yen for children age 4-14 years; 900 yen for visitors 65 and older.
Food: Kunigami Minato Shokudo, or Fisherman’s Dining, offers set meals ranging from 1,000 yen to 1,600 yen. Kids meals are also available.
Information: Online: sekirinzan.com/en