Shimajiri Mangrove forest is a unique mangrove eco-system in Miyakojima. The area is rich on plant and animal life. From the installed walkways it is possible to see birds, crabs, mudskippers and much more. It is a great place for nature lovers and children.
About mangroves: A mangrove is technically a type of tree which grows in brackish (partly salty) water – a condition which is often found where rivers and oceans meet. They are found in tropical and subtropical climates. The term “mangrove” covers a larger group of plants which have adapted to live under these conditions. The word “mangrove”, however, is also used to describe a complete eco-system of such plants as is the case with Shimajiri Mangrove.
You would think that Miyakojima, being in a sub-tropical climate and having plenty of coastline, is an ideal place for a mangrove forest to form. And indeed it is, as there are several mangrove forests on the island. However the mangroves here are unusual in that there are no rivers on Miyako island. The brackish water in Shimajiri is created by the sea mixing with water from nearby natural springs.
Several mangroves exist around the island – Shimajiri being the largest and most significant. The forest covers about a 1km (0.62mi) stretch surrounding the Batarazu inlet near the town of Shimajiri. There are 5 species of mangrove trees on Miyakojima. In all of Okinawa only 6 species exist, so the mangrove forests of Miyakojima are quite special.
Both photos above © touristinjapan.com
Experiencing Shimajiri Mangrove Forest
Part of the mangrove forest is accessible by foot, thanks to a 4-500m. long wooden walkway which is installed along the inlet. There is a parking lot at the northern end of the path, where you also find a toilet, drinking water, a picnic area and a vending machine. As you walk along the footpath you are likely to experience a lot of animal life. Crabs, mudskippers, fish and many types of birds can often be observed from here.
All 4 photos above © touristinjapan.com
By car: when coming from Hirara city, take route 83 north. Follow the sign for Ikema island onto route 230. Stay on route 230 until you see a sign pointing right towards Shimajiri. Continue on that road until you reach the first major 4-way intersection. Turn left at the intersection and continue a few hundred meters until the third paved road on the left hand side. Turn down that road, and you arrive at the parking lot.
Parking coordinates: 24°52’40.1″N 125°17’18.5″E
By bus: Bus #6 stops at Shimajiri Iriguchi (8 times daily from Hirara) and Kobaiten Mae (4 times daily from Hirara). These two stops are the nearest stops to Shimajiri Mangrove Forest. From Shimajiri Iriguchi there is a 1.6km (20min) walk to the mangrove. Kobaiten Mae is slightly closer, being just 1.1km (15min) from the mangrove.
The busses in the Miyako islands are not well documented when you are on the island and they are very infrequent. If you must take a bus, then you can find information about the stops and schedules at kotsu-okinawa.org.