When asked, Lucy, myself or Magnus would probably choose our day trip to Minna Island as the best day of our trip to Japan. We got off to a bad start. Tired from yet another tough night of wakeful kids we didn’t have much more than a loose idea that we might take a proper day trip, and spent breakfast researching whilst trying to get some food into Magnus to avoid a day of hunger-induced rioting. Our research turned up Minna Island, and we committed to the endeavour, packed up our bags, and piled in to the car. On the road we double checked the ferry times and realised we had 15 minutes until the final morning departure, with a 15 minute drive on roads with strict 40 mph speed limits ahead of us. Panic and disappointment set in, a toxic combination, but lack of sleep somehow inspired a delirious surge of optimism which carried us to the terminal in just enough time to swoop onto the boat before it set off.

The boat was delightful, cruising at speed over the small body of ocean between mainland Okinawa and Minna Island, a tiny crescent-shaped mass just west of Motobu. We docked and began exploring, Lucy south and Magnus & I north while Maya slept. The sun beat blissfully down on coral sands and turquoise seas lapped gently at the shoreline as we searched for shells and paddled, on the look out for bright tropical fish.

The island in the summer is a tourist trap. According to the gentle-mannered engineer on the ferry, the boat is on the move non-stop in the summer season, dumping hundreds upon hundreds of souls on the island whereupon they collapse on the beach in droves, destroying the picturesque vista over the bright white sands and talking over the quiet peace. But just weeks later, the weather still gorgeous, the season is over and the tourists are back at their desks pouring over keyboards. The Minna Island we experienced was more or less abandoned, a tropical oasis with only a handful of locals. We found paradise by accident, and enjoyed 7 perfect hours exploring on foot, chatting with local craftspeople, snorkling above coral outcrops rich with luminous fish, and playing together on the deserted beach.

Go to Minna Island. But wait until summer is “over”.

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