CONTRIBUTED BY QUENTIN RICHARDSON
Planning The Trip
Before I make the firm decision on a trip, I do research on it to make sure that (1), I can afford it, (2) it’s easily accessible in the allotted amount of time and (3) it will be worth it. Once those three conditions are satisfied, I begin making the basic arrangements.
Unfortunately, given that I do not read or speak Japanese, communication becomes increasingly difficult the farther I am away from the bases. I rely heavily on my local friends to relay the necessary information I need to send or receive.
So with Kumejima, I first looked into the websites listed below. Some sites are completely in kanji and others that are in English only give pieces of information (the exception being the English guide). What I did was group all related articles into PDFs and looked for matching information. Things I wanted to arrange first were transportation costs (i.e. ferry versus flying, renting a car versus bringing your own… etc), Lodging Options and Sightseeing/Attractions. Since all the sites had most things I needed to be explained in common, I was able to estimate the entire trip’s cost and begin making reservations.
My decisions from what was just explained led to me the following breakdown:
Call around for room/call Ferry and reserve space for my car (checking availability)
Take my car on the ferry versus renting (cheaper/easier to carry more luggage/easier to travel around the island)
Stay in a minshuku/dorm-style hotel since I’m traveling alone and won’t need a room except for sleeping/showering (60% cheaper)
Stay close to Eef Beach (area caters to tourists)
Make a list of things I wanted to do/see and have the directions
Making reservations was extremely easy once I knew who to call. Again, with the help of local friends, I was able to confirm everything and set times for when to leave Tomari Port and return 2 days later. But… BE FLEXIBLE! Expect the unexpected,
because things, both good and bad, do happen. I had a plan, it didn’t happen EXACTLY how I planned it… but in the end I had a very exciting trip.
The following links are helpful when making plans to visit Kumejima:
Okinawa Story – Kumsjima
So now that the plans were set,it was time to put everything in motion. I pulled 60,000 yen from the ATM to cover the entire trip. Since it was a 3-day weekend I planned on using the entire weekend for this trip. Unfortunately, there were unforeseen setbacks
that altered the plan. First, Monday was not only a U.S. holiday, but also a Japanese holiday. This meant the ferry only ran once that day and it was early in the morning (8:30) making the trip only 2 days long instead of 3.
After verifying everything, I drove to Tomari Port early. You have to register your car no later than 30 minutes prior to the ferry’s departure. Arriving at Tomari Port early is also great because there are usually long lines. If you are traveling alone with a car to
Kume like I was, the place to purchase your tickets is not inside the multi-story building, but outside across the parking garage near the Kume Line Ferry. The price for my ticket and my car (4 meters long) was 29,000 yen roundtrip.
I made the mistake of waiting in the passenger ticket line inside the main building and paying for a ticket there, but they later gave me a full refund after they saw my ticket for me and my car. Unless you have additional passengers in your car, do not buy tickets
inside the main building. If you are not traveling with a car, then buy tickets inside the main building. It is a wise choice to call ahead and make reservations too (numbers listed at the end of the article).
After that, I showed the dock hand my ticket, handed him my car keys and boarded the ship. At exactly 8:30 we set sail on our 4-hour journey west to Kumejima. About 45 minutes into the ride, the ferry sails above the northern parts of the Keramas,
specifically Maejima, Tokashiki and Zamami. A little under 3 hours into the journey, the ship docks at Tonaki port and shortly after departs for its final stop at Kanegusuku Port on Kumejima. If the day you sail is windy and wavy like it was the entire weekend I went, avoid the top decks because you will be soaking wet from the ocean spray.
Once the ship docked a little before 1 p.m., the dock hand drove my car off the ship and parked it next to the part of the ship where everyone got off. He left the keys in the ignition and disappeared after that. As soon as I got into my car, the owners of the
hostel (dorm-style lodging) I made reservations with met with me and told me to follow them. The nice couple led me to the rooms in Eef Beach, which was about a 15 minute drive, and told me where to park, where I was sleeping and gave me a guide map. We
talked for a few more minutes and they took off to take care of other customers.
If you are not familiar with dorm-style lodging, here’s a quick breakdown of the place I was sleeping. There were about 8 sets of bunks (one above the other) in a large room. In the back, there is a single Japanese style bathroom, shower, and a really small
kitchen. You sleep behind a curtain on a Japanese-style roll-away bed with 2 sheets and a pillow. For me, it was cheap (3,000 yen for the weekend) and perfect since it was walking distance from the beach, the bar, and all the restaurants. There was a large parking lot to park the car with easy access to the rest of the town.
The next thing to do is to find out who is running tours to Hatenohama Beach, and find out who has English speaking guides during the trip. The Eef Beach Hotel has a desk next to the front checkout desk in the main lobby that runs tours daily. The Eef Beach
Sports Club runs the tours and is located behind the hotel. The trips cost 5,500 yen and includes a parasail and more (explained later in the Hatenohama post to follow). Booking the trip was easy but it wasn’t available until the next day. My plans
were to use that entire day for sightseeing. I decided to book the trip and spend the last few hours of daylight sightseeing.
Dormitory Kumi: 090-4986-8899
Kume Line (passenger only): 098-868-2686
Kume Line (vehicle): 098-861-5559
Eef Beach Sports Club: 098-985-8733