The blue waters of the Kerama Islands are legendary. One of the first things you’ll notice and the last thing you’ll remember about these islands are seriously just how crystal clear and azure blue the surrounding ocean us. The Kerama Islands is made up of a group of stunning little islands located just over an hour ferry ride away from the main Okinawa Port, with its most famous and popular one being Zamami Island. However, don’t let that fool you – Tokashiki Island packs a real punch if you’re after the perfect tropical paradise getaway (and really, who isn’t dreaming of one right now?).
Whilst it’s not nearly as developed as Zamami Island in terms of infrastructure, this is, in fact, part and parcel with its charm. It’s actually the largest of all the Kerama Islands, and even so, it will only take less than an hour to get to and from the furthermost points of the island.
The island life on Tokashiki Island is slow, languid, relaxing – exactly how you’d expect a getaway to a tropical island to be. There are enough activities for you want to stay on the island for a night or two to enjoy them at a leisurely pace, however, if you’re just looking for a day trip option, the fastest boat gets from Naha to Tokashiki in just 35 minutes.
How To Get To Tokashiki Island
There are two options from Naha’s Tomari Port which depart for Tokashiki Port daily.
If you’re after speed, we recommend taking the high-speed boat option, which takes 35 minutes and costs 2,490-yen one way, or 4, 740 return. There are two high speed boats a day, once at 9:00am and once at 4:00pm. Otherwise, the cheaper option is to take the car ferry which takes just over an hour and costs 1,660-yen one way, or 3,160-yen return. There is only one car ferry daily, which leaves at 10:00am. We recommend you either book your tickets in advance online or at the port ticket counter.
If you want a seriously hassle-free island adventure to Tokashiki, why not book a tour? This popular tour that Klook has arranged will take you across to Tokashiki from Naha to do the experience that you want to do. From simply relaxing and swimming on the beach to snorkelling and even experiencing the famous sea turtles, you get to pick and choose what you want to do and how you want to do it. Simply head to this link and select your tour option. It’s hassle-free and all you have to do is rock up!
Where To Stay In Tokashiki Island
Hostel in Tokashiki Island – Kerama Backpackers
Kerama Backpackers is actually the only hostel-style accommodation on the entire island, so if you’re looking for an affordable budget option, this is your pick. With various room types including dorm rooms with bunk beds and private rooms with tatami mats, you choose how you want to live. Make use of the cosy common lounge rooms and well-equipped kitchens, free Wi-Fi, complimentary port pick up service and free shuttle to and from the popular Aharen Beach. For the price you pay, you surprisingly get everything you need for a very comfortable stay.
Guest Tips: If you order breakfast the previous day before 5:00pm, they’ll deliver right to at 8:00am the next day! There’s luggage storage here so you don’t have to worry about lugging your suitcase around if you still want to explore after checking out.
Book It Now: Kerama Backpackers
Hotel in Tokashiki Island – Marine Palace
This ryokan is really like a palace! Large, spacious, light-filled rooms, a 24-hour front desk, complimentary storage space, and free transfer to and from the port make this a premium experience for guests. If you want a chance to relax, they have a gorgeous sun terrace for you to soak up some vitamin D. The place is well-maintained, and provides all the amenities you would need for a long and comfortable stay.
Guest Tips: Make sure you stay for breakfast, it’s complimentary and the spread is awesome! If you want to frequent the beach, stay here because it’s within walkable distance and is super close.
Book It Now: Marine Palace
The Best Things To Do In Tokashiki Island
As the resident “it” beach of Tokashiki, Aharen Beach draws crowds mainly for its pure white sand and crystal clear waters, but also for its abundance of activities and amenities catering for visitors to the island. It’s the larger of the two main beaches on Tokashiki and the size makes it a great option as even during the peak season, you’ll always be able to find a comfortable spot to yourself.
At Aharen Beach, they will clearly mark where the section where you can swim and where you can snorkel. Unfortunately, due to damage caused by tourists to the coral reefs in the past, snorkelers are now mandated to wear life vests whilst in the water and also have their own section. This won’t deter from your experience however, as the marine life in the waters is still thriving.
You can bring your own private gear, but don’t fret if you haven’t got any, as there are rental shops sprinkled along the beach for you to hire for the day. There are also restaurants, toilets, and shower facilities that are open to the public to use.
Swimming and snorkelling are the two main activities here, but if you’re keen, you can also rent stand-up paddle boards, kayaks, and even jet skis to roam the waters!
From Aharen Beach, you can also head across to Hanarejima, a small uninhabited island off the coast of Aharen where you can snorkel and swim without the crowds. The waters here, if possible, are even more beautiful and the marine life is virtually untouched, with beautiful coral formations and schools of tiny tropical fish swimming around your ankles all day long.
- Address: Aharen, Tokashiki, Shimajiri District, Okinawa 901-3502, Japan
- Access: From Tokashiki Port, it is a 12-minute car ride to Aharen Beach.
As the smaller option of the two main beaches on Tokashiki Island, Tokashiku Beach is less crowded, but at a small cost – there are less amenities for those unprepared. In saying that, if you haven’t got your own gear, you can still hire from the tour and accommodation facility situated by the beach, and there are toilets and paid shower facilities if you need.
However, don’t expect to be able to have a leisurely lunch or as many readily available snacks like at Aharen Beach. The main activities to do here include swimming and sunbathing, and if you don’t want to get burnt, you can easily hire some beach umbrellas.
Tokashiku Beach is always quieter than Aharen Beach, and depending on the season that you go, it could be virtually empty. It’s just as gorgeous, though.
A unique activity at Tokashiku Beach is the viewing of the sea turtles. It’s actually such a popular activity here that Tokashiku Beach is also known as ‘Turtle Beach’. During high tide, the turtles like to feed at the actual beach. As the waters are crystal clear here, you can observe them from afar. If you want to swim up close to them, you will need to reserve the experience at the Tokashiku Marine Village nearby. The sea turtles at Tokashiku Beach have acclimated to humans, so if you’re nice and gentle, you might be able to get really close. Just make sure you don’t touch or harass them!
- Address: 1919-1 Tokashiki, Shimajiri District, Okinawa 901-3501, Japan
- Access: From Tokashiki Port, it is a 9-minute drive to Tokashiku Beach.
Experience Seeing Humpback Whales
From January to March/April, you can actually see Humpback whales off the coast of the beaches on Tokashiki Island. Due to the change in weather, they migrate from the cooler northern seas to the warmer waters in Okinawa for a few months to breed and raise their calves.
For those who get to witness the breeding, pods of male whales will be seen in what could be described as battles with each other for the female’s attention, and some might leave with battle scars. In terms of raising their babies, the lucky spectators might actually get to see mother whales with their calves in tow which is an adorable sight!
To actually experience this from on the waters, you will need to make reservations through tour companies or your accommodation.
Check Out the Many Observatories of Tokashiki Island
If epic ocean views are your thing, then the observatories around the coasts of the island should be on your list. Seeing as how the island is not that big to begin with, this is one of the easiest, breeziest activities you can do!
Nishi Observatory – Located north of the Tokashiki Village, here, you’ll be able to spot the nearby Zamami islands. The observatory is also surrounded by the luscious greenery of the island so the air is super fresh up there.
Address: Nishi Observatory
Mae-jima Observatory – Also located on the same premises as Nishi Observatory but facing the east, you will be able to spot Mae-jima Island, Keise-jima Island, and the main island of Okinawa from here.
Address: Mae-jima Observatory
Kubandaki Observatory – This observatory is located only a 10-minute walk away from Arahen Beach. Here, you will have uninterrupted views of the vast blue sea, which is particularly breathtaking during sunset.
Minato no Mieru Oka Observatory – This is probably one of the more popular observatories, as its quite closeby to the village. You will need to climb a set of stairs, and once you get to the top, you can take as long as you want just watching the boats and ferries pull in and out of the port and the hustle and bustle of the people below, all whilst mesmerised by the surrounding Kerama Blue oceans.
Tokashiki Island is well-worth your time for a slice of paradise that is the Kerama Islands. The water here is staggeringly breathtaking, the marine life is truly unique, and the beaches are, well, one in a million. You won’t come across these strips of white sand paradise many times in your lifetime, so if you’re planning to visit Okinawa any time, we strongly urge you to pop Tokashiki Island on the list – you won’t regret it.
And if you want to explore other islands in Okinawa, check out Taketomi Island!