Located just a 15-minute boat ride from the port of Ishigaki lies Taketomi Island, one of the gorgeous pristine-clean white sand paradise islands of Yaeyama. The unspoiled landscape, endless blue ocean, stunning beaches, traditional townscape, and calming atmosphere of this island makes it a very popular day trip for visitors staying on Ishigaki island, and even so, you will never come across massive crowds here, nor will you feel as though you’re anywhere but on a paradise island here.
Just like all Okinawan islands, time literally stands still here, so you’ll find that you will be exploring at an extremely leisurely pace, cycling around the entire island and feeling the cool ocean breeze on your face without a worry in the world. Breakfast will turn into lunch, and lunch will turn into dinnertime before you know it because really, the concept of time doesn’t exist here.
We’d be inclined to convince you to visit this island purely for the white sand beach, however, there are a handful of other attractions that might break up your itinerary and give you more of a cultural appreciation for the island life in Taketomi. Whether you visit for a day trip only, or want to make the most of it by staying overnight, we’ve got you covered. We’ve detailed everything before, so fingers crossed you get to visit them all!
How To Get to Taketomi Island
Getting to Taketomi Island is super easy. All you need to do is purchase a ticket from Ishigaki Island Terminal to Taketomi, board the boat which departs every 30-minutes or so, and you’ll arrive in 10-minutes time (if you book the high speed ferry) or in 15-minutes (if you book the car ferry). You can purchase these tickets at the ferry terminal itself, or you can make reservations online here.
If you’re just looking to do a day tour and don’t want to organise anything yourself, we highly recommend that you look at booking this tour, which will include an additional two other islands as well!
This tour experience allows you to hop on and hop off boats that will take you around Iriomote Island, Yubu Island, and Taketomi Island. On each island, you will be able to experience a bit of the local culture, take in the beauty of the beaches and nature, you will get to dine on local Okinawan food for lunch at the Botanical Garden of Yubu, and you’ll also be able to ride a buffalo car, explore the streets of Taketomi Old Street, and be entertained by someone playing the three-string chord instrument live!
How To Get Around Taketomi Island
The easiest way to get around the island is by cycling. You can easily rent a bicycle at the port itself as you alight, or you can walk to the main village which is just under 15-minutes away, and there are plenty of bicycle rental stores there to choose from.
Where To Stay in Taketomi Island
Guesthouse in Taketomi Island – Taketomijima Guesthouse and Je Taime
This guesthouse on Taketomi Island is exactly what you’d expect a cozy budget accommodation on a paradise beach island to be: relaxed, spacious, lots of natural lighting, a hammock in the backyard, lots of chillout spaces, and all the basic amenities such as laundrette, equipped kitchen and plenty of shared bathrooms and toilets. To keep with the Okinawan theme, the entire place is decorated in an Asian Okinawa-style. From here, you can easily access most if not all the attractions on the island.
Guest Tips: Every night around 9:30pm the guesthouse offers its guest free sake. If you’re up for it, you should join the festivities and drink and meet new people, it’s really fun! You can rent a bike here for 1,000 yen for 24/hours – so cheap!
Book It Now: Taketomijima Guesthouse and Je Taime
Hotel in Taketomi Island – HOSHINOYA Taketomi Island
The brand Hoshinoya is synonymous with luxury, opulence, and grandeur, and that’s exactly what you get if you book with Hoshinoya on Taketomi Island. This resort located on the beautiful island of Taketomi is what your dreams are made of.
Featuring hut-style villas that ooze contemporary style mixed with rustic Okinawan charm, and you’ve got yourself a beautiful and spacious guest room that’s so visually stunning, you won’t ever want to leave. The resort itself offers an onsite restaurant, massive seating areas, private bathrooms, free Wi-Fi throughout, massage services upon request, and boasts one of the most beautiful outdoor pools you’ll ever lay your eyes on.
Guest Tips: Stargazing at night by the poolside is simply magical.
Book It Now: HOSHINOYA Taketomi Island
The Best Things To Do In Taketomi Island
Here are the places that you shouldn’t miss when you visit Taketomi Island:
- Kondoi Beach
- Nagominoto Tower
- Water Buffalo Cart Rides
- Ryukyu Village
- Tanadui (Seed) Festival
Kondoi Beach is the ultimate destination for those visiting Taketomi Island. Its azure blue waters, soft white sand and super long beachfront make it a popular choice for all types of travellers. Its location and condition make it perfect if you’re after a long, leisurely lay down on the beach to sunbake and nap, or if you want to splash around in the water.
During all times of the year, even winter, the water is generally warmer than the mainland beaches, and during summer it’s downright lukewarm! It’s also very shallow making it safe for kids to play in, and the shallow sand floor actually stretches quite far into the ocean. This isn’t the type of beach you would be surfing in. If you’re after a view, we recommend getting here at sunset and soaking it all in – the experience will be therapeutic.
This is the most equipped beach on the island, providing shady picnic areas with tables and seats, a public restroom, changing room, and rental facilities nearby for basic equipment.
This is probably the highest viewpoint of Taketomi Island, and it’s here that you’ll be able to capture a full view of Taketomi Island’s Ryukyu Village. If you’re looking to capture some birds eye view pictures then this would be your best choice. If you have maybe 30-minutes to spare, we recommend heading here. Be warned: there is a short flight of steep steps to climb up.
- Please Note: at the moment there is a ban on people climbing up the tower due to its deteriorating state.
- Address: Taketomi, Taketomi, Yaeyama District, Okinawa 907-1101, Japan
Water Buffalo Cart Rides
For those after a unique island experience, there are two companies which offer buffalo cart rides on the island. This is a leisurely activity, and one you won’t likely be able to experience elsewhere. The ride goes on for around 30-minutes, and it languidly takes you around the traditional streets of the village whilst a tour guide describes the island and entertains you with songs whilst playing Okinawan music on their sanshin (a traditional stringed instrument). If you’re not pressed for time, and don’t want to explore the village on foot, this might be an option for you.
- Address: 371 Taketomi, Yaeyama District, Okinawa 907-1101, Japan
- Hours: 9:00am – 4:00pm
- Price: Adult: 1,200 yen, Children: 600 yen
Taketomi Tourist Center
- Address: 441 Taketomi, Yaeyama District, Okinawa 907-1101, Japan
- Hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm
- Price: Adult: 1,200 yen, Children: 600 yen
The famous Ryukyu Village is often referred to as “The Village of Red Roof Tiles” because of its distinct townscape of wide-open roads flanked by quaint houses with roofs fitted with traditional red tiles. Tourists often swing by here to explore the unique style homes and capture a part of Okinawa’s history. Due to its wonderful preservation efforts, the village is now designated as a preservation district for the important traditional buildings by the national government. One of the unique aspects of these homes is that almost all of them are surrounded by stone walls and guarded by lion statues to fend off any evil spirits.
Some of the houses in this village have been converted to minshuku accommodations (family-run Japanese style B&Bs). As you’re browsing through this village, you’ll see that other buildings have been converted to restaurants and shops which sell local food and crafts.
Tanadui (Seed) Festival
Every year during the third week of October, the people of Taketomi gather together to pray for a year of bountiful growth of crops and good harvest. The festival itself is dated over 600 years old, and thus is now designated as an important intangible folk cultural asset by the Japanese government.
This is the largest event to take place on Taketomi Island every year, and as expected, it attracts a relatively large number of visitors to its festivities including dances dedicated to deities, special instrument performances, song and dance, and cultural processions. If you’re lucky enough to be heading to Taketomi during this period, you can’t miss this!
Taketomi Island of the Yaeyama Island is where you want to go if you want to do nothing, think of nothing, worry about nothing. It is the epitome of the ‘island life’ where you can literally wake up at any time of the day and it will be acceptable, walk out to the beach in just a few minutes from most accommodation, and go for a swim and lay on the sand until dinnertime. The picturesque coastlines will make you depressed when you board the boat to leave, but we reckon it’s well worth the trip just to experience this little slice of paradise off the west coast of Japan.
And if you want to discover more amazing islands in Okinawa, take a look at Tokashiki Island.