I was telling you before how Wade and I were trying to go north to see some Sakura but the rain made my little photo excursion a no go. Well fear not! We don’t give up that easily. On a nice day the following weekend we figured we would go find some Sakura and finally take the drive to the very tip top of Okinawa, Cape Hedo. I can’t believe we put this off after almost two years of being here. Crazy. Just one of those things we kept “meaning to do.” Now we had no real way of knowing what the Sakura situation was going towards Cape Hedo. There isn’t much information about the very northern part of Okinawa. Using my flower sense, I figured there had to be. Though the villages are few that far north, the Sakura trees are sacred and I doubt the Okinawans who lived up there wouldn’t plant some for themselves. Did you know it is illegal to cut them down?! Oh yes, they are quite serious about their Sakura here.
The expressway on Okinawa is amazing. It takes you from Naha to Nago in about 45 minutes. Without it I would be in need of road rage therapy. Driving around congested Okinawa could turn the calmest yogi into the Hulk. Getting anywhere north of Nago, like Cape Hedo, will take some time. Since we were headed waaaaaay up, we took the expressway to Nago, crossed to the east side of the island on 71 and continued up 331 and 70.
Considering the drive ahead Wade and I decided to grab some snacks. We stopped at a bakery in Nago, Panchori- na. Oh my gosh, this bakery was so beautiful and everything looked tempting. Picking was incredibly hard. I won’t lie we left with more than “a few snacks” and some did not make it out of the parking lot. Just look at this food though, which would you pick? My favorite was a ham with honey whole seeded mustard and thinly sliced potatoes. Have mercy. (Yes, I’ve been watching Fuller House!) We also tried some fruit tartes, a squid cake (Wade’s fav of the day) and pizza.
After fulfilling our gluttonous side we continued the drive. An hour or so we hit route 70. This is about the furthest I’ve been myself. Though I wasn’t thankful to share my Panchori- na goods, it was nice having Wade’s company this time. This is also when the views start to take your breath away. There are fewer beaches with easy access but the ones we could get to had velvety soft sand compared to the coral speckled sand we have closer to our house. We stopped several times to take photos and walk the beaches. I found some great scenery that I can’t wait to photograph during sun rise. It was discussed in detail how we will be taking a weekend trip in the Cape Hedo area so we are able to do more exploring and hiking.
On route 70 there is the cutest coffee shop… farm…store… whatever it is, it’s fabulous. If you ever take this route, you can’t miss it. It’s painted in whimsical colors of pink, yellow and turquoise. Hiro coffee actually grow their own coffee trees here. How neat is that? I found it pretty neat.
As we reached the end of route 70 and top of Okinawa, the road became lined with Sakura trees. They were blooming beautifully. We pulled over and spent almost an hour walking the road, me taking photos of the blossoms and Wade taking photos of every random car that drove by. He was trying to see how many would wave back. So embarrassing. It is hard to pretend you don’t know someone when you are the only two wandering down a mountain road.
After taking several hours to get there, (it should have taken about 2) we made it. Totally worth it! Cape Hedo is a beautiful lookout point with a 180 view of the northern cliffs. We walked around, took photos, Wade climbed some rocks, took more photos. While trying to get a perfect angle of a small statue and the cliffs we came across a geocache! Our first and we were stoked. I can’t tell you where it is but this statue is a little clue.
We snagged the prize, signed the book and left feeling pretty proud of our little souvenir. It was after taking this guys photo that I realized there was a big bird in the distance. Not THE Big Bird, that would have been only slightly cooler but look closely. Do you see it? Way back there is a giant bird. Still don’t see it? Ok it is to the left of this cool guys flame throne. I know. It doesn’t really read “bird” in this photo. This is where you need to just trust me. There is a bird and we were going to find it!
Back in the car using Wade’s naturally awesome internal navigation we found the bird. It took all of 10 minutes. I’m sure if I was by myself numerous U-turns would have been made. At least one of those would have been life threatening. Just another reason to be thankful for husbands. The bird is actually an observatory and an ode to an endangered flightless bird only found in Northern Okinawa,Yanbaru Kuina. Apparently there are only 1800 remaining and they were only discovered in 1978… I know right?! I don’t really believe that either but regardless Okinawa is trying its darndest to save this little guy. All along the northern roads you will see signs warning against their crossing. You would think these guys were everywhere. They are not. I looked. Profusely. It was rather defeating. I’d rather not talk about it anymore.
After all this driving, photo taking, eating all the delicious snacks, bird searching, rock climbing, we were spent. We jumped on 58, drove straight to the glorious expressway and ended the night with doggie snuggles. Another stunning Okinawa adventure for the
books blog. We will certainly be heading back for a weekend adventure where we will be able to stretch our legs more and hike some of the northern trails I’ve heard such great things about.
If you haven’t made the trek that far north, go.