Travel Guide for the Remote Islands of Okinawa

There are lots of beautiful remote islands in Okinawa.

I’ve been to only 5 islands but I highly recommend you visit Okinawa remote islands because of the beautiful ocean, white sand beaches and local people’s warm hospitality.

If you have never been to Okinawa’s remote islands, Ishigaki island is a good place to start with because you can enjoy island hopping easily by ferry. 

There are many activities you can try in Okinawa. I’m sure you’d want to visit those islands more after reading this article.

Which season is good season for traveling to Okinawa?

The time I recommend to travel to Okinawa is at the beginning of May and the end of June. There are two reasons:

  1. You should avoid the high season, August. August is the most expensive season to travel, plus there are so many visitors.
  2. July to  September is typhoon season. Your flight might be cancelled because of this.

Right after the big holidays called “Golden week(April 29th – May 5th)” or the end of June are nice because it’s not too chilly to swim and not too hot to go sightseeing. I recommend you avoid the rainy season starting at around the middle of May, and ending at around the middle or the end of June.

Ishigaki island(石垣島)

Flight to Ishigaki Island

There are direct flights to Ishigaki island from Haneda, Narita, Kansai, Chubu and Fukuoka airport. If you take budget airlines, you can get a flight ticket to the island from about 7,500 JPY for one way. It takes about 3 hours from Kansai, or 4 hours from Tokyo to the island.

[word_balloon id=”1″ size=”M” position=”L” name_position=”under_avatar” radius=”true” balloon=”talk” balloon_shadow=”true”]I often use Peach Aviation because they are one of the most reasonably priced airlines but their seats are not so spacious. I’m 168 cms tall and my legs almost hit the back of the front seat. [/word_balloon]

Beaches and Hotels

Ishigaki Island itself is not a big island. If you drive around the city, it takes about 3 hours. However, it has many beautiful beaches such as:

  1. Fusaki beach
  2. Maesaki beach
  3. Ishigaki seaside hotel beach
  4. Ishigaki sunset beach
  5. Sukuji beach

If you travel with kids, hotel beaches like Fusaki beach, Maesaki beach and Ishigaki seaside hotel beach are better. Hotel beaches have various marine activities and facilities like showers and restrooms.

  • Fusaki Beach Resort Hotel & Villa
  • Ishigaki Seaside hotel
  • ANA InterContinental Ishigaki Resort

It takes about 30 minutesto Sukuji beach ,and 50 minutes and to Ishigaki jima sunset beach from the city center respectively.

Popular Marine Activities on Ishigaki Island

Manta ray watching tour

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You can join the diving or snorkling tours and see giant Manta rays. There are also sea turtle tours.

Blue cave snorkling / sea kayaking

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The exploring in this mysterious blue cave will be your nice travel memory. You can choose either snorkling or kayaking.

Miyara River Canoeing

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You can paddle down the Miyara River while seeing many different kinds of trees. There are some trees that are a few hundreds years old in the mangrove. Toddlers can also enjoy canoeing with their parents or guardians. 

Sightseeing Spots

Ishigaki Island Limestone Cave(石垣島鍾乳洞)

According to the official site of Ishigaki Stalactite, this cave was formed over 200,000 years. The illumination creates the mysterious atmosphere.

opening hours  9:00 – 18:30 (Last entry18:00)
admission fee Adults: 1,200 JPY

Children : 600 JPY (between 4 to 15 years old)

address 1666 Ishigaki, Okinawa 907-0023, Japan
phone number +81 980-83-1550

Ishigaki Yaima Village(やいま村)

Yaima village consists of a farmer’s house, some residences, Amparu Lookout, Mangrove passage, Gettou cafe, Squirrel Monkey garden, Amparu restaurant and a souvenir shop. 

Please look at their map so that you can get a better idea about this place.

opening hours 9:00 am – 5:30 pm
admission fee Adults :1,000 JPY

Children : 500 JPY (between 3 to 12 years old)

address 967-1 Nagura, Ishigaki, Okinawa 907-0021, Japan
phone number +81 980-82-8798

Kabira Bay(川平湾)

This is the bay I like the most. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to swim but the beautiful view is worth seeing it.

There is a parking lot that accommodates 15 cars for free, whlie the rest of parking spots will cost you money. There are also souvenir shops, restaurants, cafes, and a diving shop. Riding on a glass boat is a nice activity if you don’t get motion sickness easily.

[word_balloon id=”1″ size=”M” position=”L” name_position=”under_avatar” radius=”true” balloon=”talk” balloon_shadow=”true”]The view from Kabira Park Observation Deck is stunning. [/word_balloon]

Oganzaki Lighthouse(御神崎灯台)

The view from this lighthouse is beautiful. It’s pretty windy here so do not let the wind blow away your personal belongings.

  • duaration : 3 – 5 hours
  • rent-a-car: approximately 7,000 JPY (= about $60)

[word_balloon id=”1″ size=”M” position=”L” name_position=”under_avatar” radius=”true” balloon=”talk” balloon_shadow=”true”]One day is enough for you to travel around Ishigaki island.[/word_balloon]

Island Hopping from Ishigaki Island

I recommend this island as your first remote island in Okinawa because Ishigaki has ferry access to the other islands. It’s good for island hopping. 

There are two ferry companies, Yaeyama and Anei.

Yaeyama ferries go to Taketomi, Kuroshima, Kohama, Iriomote and Hatoma islands.

Anei ferries go to Taketomi, Kuroshima, Kohama, Hatoma, Iriomote and Hateruma islands.

Taketomi Island (竹富島)

Taketomi island is the closest island to Ishigaki island. It takes about 20 minutes and costs 1,520 JPY both way by ferry. You can get there by both Yaeyama and Anei ferry with the same price.

You can rent a bicycle on this island, and there are no rental cars or rental motorbikes. It takes about 3 to 4 hours to cycle around the island.  The price for a bike per hour is 300 JPY, and the price for a day is 1,500 JPY. E-bikes are also available at 600 JPY per hour, and 2,400 JPY for a day.

[word_balloon id=”1″ size=”M” position=”L” name_position=”under_avatar” radius=”true” balloon=”talk” balloon_shadow=”true”]You can try a water Buffalo cart ride, which is so relaxing. [/word_balloon]

Hateruma Island (波照間島)

Hateruma island is the farthest from Ishigaki island.  It is also the southenmost island people can live on. It takes about 2 hours and costs 7,830 JPY by Anei ferry.

[word_balloon id=”1″ size=”M” position=”L” name_position=”under_avatar” radius=”true” balloon=”talk” balloon_shadow=”true”]I think Nishi beach is the most beautiful beach I’ve been to.[/word_balloon]

On Hateruma island, you can rent a bicycle, a motorbike, or a car for the island tour. A bicycle costs about 1,000 JPY per day, and an E-bike costs about 2,000 JPY to 2,500 JPY. There are some up and down hills. A motorbike is easy and you can save time, too. It costs about 3,000 JPY. A rental car costs about 6,000 – 10,000 JPY. 

One day trip is enough for the island tour but it’s worth staying there to see the beautiful stars at night.

Miyakojima Island(宮古島)

Flight ticket to Miyakojima Island

There are direct flights to Miyakojima island from Haneda, Narita, Kansai, and Chubu airport. If you take budget airlines, you can get a flight ticket to the island from about 8,000 JPY for one way. It takes about 3 hours from Kansai, 4 hours from Tokyo to the island.

[word_balloon id=”1″ size=”M” position=”L” name_position=”under_avatar” radius=”true” balloon=”talk” balloon_shadow=”true”]You can use the low-cost airline,  Jetstar to go to Miyakojima island. The space between seats are not spacious but the price is cheap. [/word_balloon]

Beaches and Hotels

  1. Pina Gama Beach
  2. Yonaha Beach
  3. Imgya Marine Garden

Pinagama Beach is the closest beach from Miyakojima city. There is a slope for children on baby buggies and people in wheelchairs. There are also restrooms and shower booths. 

Yonaha Beach is a famous beach on Miyakojima island. The beach is next to Tokyu Hotel and Resorts. It has a long white sand beach. It takes about 20 minutes from the city center to the beach by car.

Imagya Marine Garden is a beach inside the cove. It’s good for small kids to play. The deepest place is about 15 meters deep. If you snorkel there, please make sure to put on a life jacket. It takes about 25 minutes from the city center to the beach by car.

  • IMGYA PALACE
  • Hotel Risingsun Miyakojima
  • Miyakojima Tokyu Hotel and Resorts

Activities and Sightseeing Spots

Driving on Irabu Island and Kurima Island

There are two bridges across Miyakojima island to Irabu island and Kurima island.

It takes about 20 minutes and 30 minutes from Miyako city by car, respectively.

It also takes about an hour to drive aound Irabu island, and about 30 minutes to drive around Kurima island. 

17END on Irabu island and Ryuuguujyo Observation deck on Kurima island have wonderful views.

Diving and snorkeling in Yabiji

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Yabiji is a perfect place to go diving and snorkeling because it is famous for its colorful corals. It takes about 20 minutes by ferry from Ikemajima island. You can join the tour that the local shops provide. The price of the snorkeling tour starts from 8,000 JPY, and the diving tour starts from  11,500 JPY. The prices are subject to change. 

Kearama Islands(慶良間諸島)

Access to Kerama Islands

Kerama islands consists of 20 or more islands. There are only 4 islands which people live on, Tokashiki island, Zamami island, Aka island and Geruma island. You can take a ferry to Kerama islands from the ferry terminal Tomari port in Naha city. 

There are two types of ferries to Tokashiki island, Marine Liner Tokashiki and Ferry Tokashiki. Marine Liner is a high-speed boat ,and Ferry Tokashiki is a regular boat. It takes about 40 minutes with Marine Liner Tokashiki and 70 minutes with Ferry Tokashiki to the island.

Marine Liner (high-speed boat)

(one way : 2,530 JPY, both ways : 4,810 JPY)

Tomari port

(Naha)

Tokashiki port Tokasihki port Tomari port

(Naha)

Departure Arrival Arrival Departure
3/1 – 9/30 09:00 09:40 10:00 10:40
16:30 17:10 17:30 18:10
10/1 – 2/28 09:00 09:40 10:00 10:40
16:00 16:40 17:00 17:40
Additional ferry 13:00 13:40 14:00 14:40
An addional ferry is available only during Golden week (April 29th – May 5th), July and August, and September Friday, Staurday and Sunday). 

Ferry Tokashiki

(one way : 1,690 JPY , both ways: 3,210 JPY)

Tomarin port

(Naha)

Tokashiki port

 

Tokashiki port

 

Tomarin port

(Naha)

Departure

Arrival Departure Arrival
3/1 – 9/30 10:00 11:10 16:00 17:10
10/1 – 2/28 10:00 11:10 15:30 16:40

[word_balloon id=”1″ size=”M” position=”L” name_position=”under_avatar” radius=”true” balloon=”talk” balloon_shadow=”true”]They may cancel the ferries because of the strong winds. You have to rebook your ferry when they do. [/word_balloon]

There are also, two types of ferry to Zamami island, Queen Zamami and Ferry Zamami.  Queen Zamami is a high-speed boat and Ferry Zamami is not. They have flexible schedule, and you can check it here. Ferry Zamami has only one trip per day but the high speed boat, Queen Zamami has one to three trips per day, depending on the season. Most of Queen Zamami and Ferry Zammami stop by Aka island but some of them don’t. It takes about 50 minutes and 90 minutes from the port to Zamami island respectively.

Queen Zamami and Ferry Zamami

Queen Zamami Ferry Zamami
one way both ways one way both ways
adult 3,200 6,080 adult 2,150 4,090
child 1,600 3,040 child 1,080 2,060

(The price is in Japanese yen)

Queen Zamami and Ferry Zamami are for visitors from Tomari port in Naha to Zamami island. If you need ferries between Zamami island and Aka island, you can take Ferry Mitsushima.

Ferry Mitsushima

 (Zamami⇔Aka one way : 300 JPY)  (Zamami/ Aka ⇔ Aharen one way: 800 JPY )

Zamami Aka Aharen port

(Tokashiki)

Aka Zamami
Deperture Arrival Arrival/

Departure

Deperture

Arrival
1 7:45 8:00 8:15
2 8:30 8:45 9:05 9:25 9:40
3 11:45 12:00 12:30
4 14:30 14:45 15:00
5 15:30 15:45 16:05 16:25 16:40
6 17:30 17:45 18:00

You have to make a reservation by 17:00 the day before your boarding. 

Please be aware that Tokashiki port and Aharen port are different.

Island Hopping

Togkashiki Island (渡嘉敷島)

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Tokashiki island is the largest island in Kerama islands. The ocean is clear, and known as “Kerama blue”. Water sports and marine activities are available. Beach hopping is also recommended. There are two great beaches, Aharen beach and Tokashiku beach. There are 4 buses a day that go to Aharen beach but not to Tokashiku beach. You can also join a whale watching tour. If you are lucky, you can watch whales at Aran Lookout. 

You can see village maps and some infromation about Tokashiki island from here, here and here.

Zamami Island (座間味島)

Togashiki island is the second largest island in Kerama islands. Zamami is also famous for its white sand beach and clear water.

There is a statue of the dog called Maririn on Zamami island and a statue of another dog called Shiro on Aka island. The statues are looking at each other. Shiro which lived on Aka island swam across the sea, visited Maririn on Zamami island many times. There is also the Japanese movie, “wanna see Maririn” based on the true story. 

Aka Island and Geruma Island (阿嘉島、慶留間島)

Aka island and Geruma island are connected by Aka bridge. There are not so many things to see on Geruma island but Takarake residence and Geruma airport. You can rent a motorbike and visit these places. Bicycles are also available but there are some steep slopes. There is only one rental shop on Aka island, and the name is Shou.

[word_balloon id=”1″ size=”M” position=”L” name_position=”under_avatar” radius=”true” balloon=”talk” balloon_shadow=”true”]Maehama beach is not a good place to swim. According to the local people, household wastewater runs into the beach.[/word_balloon]

You can see Kerama dear on Aka island but you are not allowed to feed them.

[word_balloon id=”1″ size=”M” position=”L” name_position=”under_avatar” radius=”true” balloon=”talk” balloon_shadow=”true”]Thank you for reading this blog. I hope you have a wonderful holiday on the remote islands in Okinawa.[/word_balloon]

作成者: w030441j

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