Tokashiki Island: Island Getaway to the Keramas

CONTRIBUTED BY JOY BARNES

Tokashiki sunset

My husband and I were feeling the itch to set out on another vacation, but we were looking for a weekend family get-away, close to home.  And on a recommendation from our neighbor, we set our sights on Tokashiki Island.

Tokashiki is one of the Kerama Islands off the coast of Okinawa and is accessible by a 35-minute express ferry or a 70-minute large ferry (with the ability to transport vehicles).  We opted for the longer ferry to bring our car because we enjoy the freedom of exploring on our own.  However, I’d recommend the express ferry to others who prefer simply being a “beach bum”—which is a perfectly respectable past-time in the Keramas!   (Just as a word of caution: I’m not a person who normally gets motion sickness, but I’ll politely say, I lost it on the trip over.  It was a very windy day, so be prepared if the seas are not looking calm!)

Tokashiki ferry

We stayed for two nights — but a day-trip, using the express ferry, would be easy to do.  There are over two dozen small hotels and hostels to choose from on the island.  Most appeared to be small, run-down beach inns, but this actually adds to the laid-back feel of the island.  We stayed at the Tokashiku Marine Village Hotel, directly on Tokashiku Beach.  What the hotel lacked in amenities and room aesthetics, it made up for in the hospitality of its staff, and above all, the beauty of the location.  Tokashiku Beach was spectacular.  It’s about a half-mile stretch of sand, carved out between mountains, and at the risk of sounding trite, it had crystal-clear blue waters.

Tokashiki beach

The other main beach on Tokashiki is Aharen Beach which was larger than Tokashiku and appeared to be a little more commercialized.  The majority of the inns and dive shops were also located in the village of Aharen.  So, if you’re looking for a little more action, Aharen would be the place to go.  In addition to Aharen and Tokashiku, the only other village on the island is Tokashiki Port. Outside of these 3 small villages, the island mostly consists of undeveloped mountain landscape.  That was perhaps the most surprising feature of the island.  We were just a short ferry ride from Okinawa, yet the landscape was dramatically more mountainous.

Takashiki slide Because we had our car, we explored the “sights” of Tokashiki, which mostly consisted of three small WWII memorials, the largest roller-slide we’ve ever seen, and multiple scenic overlooks.  The highlight of these was definitely the scenery.  The brochure of the island says, “Enter the world of endless panorama,” and that sums it up much better than I can.  The vistas were remarkable and it was beautiful to see the other islands of the Keramas on the horizon.

However, most people don’t visit the Keramas to simply drive around and look at the ocean. They visit the to go under the ocean!  The Keramas are known for world-class diving and snorkeling.  I bravely got over my fear of sea creatures and tried snorkeling for the first time.  Just off the shoreline I saw a beautiful 2 ½ foot silvery-blue fish. (I know that’s not the scientific name, but remember, I’m a novice!)  After that first encounter, I was hooked.  Further off shore I was amazed at the coral and bright colored tropical fish.  However, the piece de resistance was the giant… I’m talking HUGE… sea turtle I saw.  It was truly remarkable to see this graceful creature in its own habitat.  I can now understand the appeal of scuba diving here in Okinawa and our surrounding islands.

Tokashiki water

Our getaway to Tokashiki turned out to be a nice little escape when we were starting to feel a little restless here on Okinawa.  It proved to be easy to get to and the low-key, relaxed atmosphere of the island was just what our family needed.

Get a sneak peek of Tokashiki Island on this video by Wandering Waffle Heads:

Details:  There is a basic website for Tokashiki Island which has a few details about the island.  It also contains the very important ferry information regarding, schedules, pricing, and reservations, etc.

I would highly recommend booking a reservation for the ferry, especially during peak seasons.  (I saw the Americans in line ahead of us, turned away because the ferry was full.  What a disappointing way to start out your adventure.)

Directions:  The ferries for Tokashiki leave from the Tomari Port in Naha, just north of the airport.  (The following directions to the port were taken from a past Okinawa Hai post about Zamami, another of the Kerama Islands.)  Tomari port is very easy to get to. Head south on Route 58 toward Naha past Camp Kinser. Cross the bridge after Kinser and take a right at the forth traffic light – you will see Tomari port on your left. Take your first left into the port parking lot.

Prices:  The Marine Liner Tokashiki is the express ferry and a round trip costs 4620 yen/adult and 2320 yen/child.  The Ferry Kerama is the longer, automobile ferry and costs 3080 yen/adult and 1540 yen/child, plus the cost of your car which is determined by length of your vehicle (one adult is included in the price of the car).

16 COMMENTS

  1. Does anyone know where the sea turtles are on this island?? We won’t be bringing a car but want to snorkel with the turtles. Also, can we rent snorkel gear there?

  2. Have just started reading and looking at the beautiful pics.
    Can anyone advise as to how and what for my wife and I from South Africa to do avtour in that area
    Kind regards,
    Fikkie

  3. Aharen Beach side: 2 adults and two small children
    We just returned from there. It was amazing. We drive a very small car and it cost 127. It is a Vitz. You don’t really need a car at all. Most places have a van and will take you where ever you want to go. This was a last min trip for us so we did everything ourselves. I think if you use ITT it could be way cheaper. We stayed at Beach House it was 187 for four people. Price was per-person. It’s included brakefast and dinner. Dinner was a very big meal. More than any of us could finish. Breakfast was big aswell but not anything american. The room was very Japanese. A small table to sit at on the floor with mats to sleep on. The ac worked great and the bathroom are right outside the room and next to them are the showers. All bathroom and shower needs are provided minus the towels. The hotel also runs a small beach rental down at the beach. This beach is not very busy at all. They will also take you out to a small island and bring you back for 10 a person. We stayed out there for a few hours the first day then most of the day the next. The fish are right off the beach and love hotdogs! Once we feed them they followed us around all day. Bring a backpack and waterproof watch. We put water and a few snacks in the backpack and did just fine. Bring sunscreen! We bought some from the small store there but it did not work very well even tho it said 50spf but it was really watered down. We had lunch at one of the local restaurant it was good. They have a few down the small road there. Not sure how to post photos on this thing but I have detailed photos of the trip.

  4. We just returned from a weekend away at Tokashiki. We also stayed at the Tokashiki Guest House. the Family took us to Aharen the first day and Tokashiku the second day. They were amazing and yes 20,000 a night and it sleeps 10 people. I recommend if going start off at Aharen first day and then head over to Tokashiku. the most amazing experience that I swear no one tells you is that there is sea turtles everywhere on the beach. We got there early and by 10 we found 5 and by the end of the day we found 7. as the tide goes down we seemed to find more. The water is like swimming in a pool its so clear. We went with 2 kids 6 and 7 and they couldnt get enough of the snorkel time. Tokashiku also has pavilions right off beach to get away from the sun to eat and not get sand in your lunch.

  5. Just wanted to add an alternate place to stay! Google tokashiki guest house. I’m writing from my phone so it’s easier than pasting a link. 😉 anyways, the guest houses are family owned and operated. He has two cottages located next to a park and roller slide. The owner is very friendly and very accommodating and helpful! He has large van, he picks you up from the port and drops you off for free! He will drive you anywhere on island! The cottages are great and spacious, you can view them on the website. 20,000 Y per night per cottage! We went last summer with friends and are going again this summer! Check them out!! 🙂

  6. I booked a weekend at the Tokashiku Marine Village with ITT. They recomended not bringing our car. Are there bikes or other forms of transportaion available to rent on the Island? I would like to go hiking and explore a little more than just the beach. Does anyone know what is available or how hard it is to get around? Thank you.

  7. Thank you for staying here at Tokashiku Marine Village. We’re very glad to hear that. If you have a chance, please come back here. We’ll lokking forward to seeing again soon.

  8. We just returned from here. The hotel is very basic (which is really all you’ll need; a place to sleep). The staff, however, was WONDERFUL. They made every effort to make our stay fantastic – even went so far as to change their menu and make it “more american” for the 6 kids (ok, and adults too…). Things to think about – there’s not much going on in the area – a car is not necessary, but you’ll pay just about as much to park at the ferry port (Sun-Wed was Y4500) as to take it with you on the boat depending on the length of your car. Just something to consider. If it rains, a car will be nice to have for exploring purposes – lots of hills make for some hard walking on little ones. Also pack either a dvd player or laptop that will play videos – you’ll need it at some point if you have kids – even if it’s just to shower in peace. The rooms have mini-fridges – the little square ones that hold a little more than a 6-pack. Bathrooms have shower and tub. Internet access in the lobby only, not in the rooms. There’s a shoppette downstairs with snacks and drinks and high priced tshirts. Recommend bringing your own snacks – as well as some bread and pb&j fixins. Lunch is good, but starts at Y850 and adds up quickly. Lunch menu is typical curry, taco rice, oki-soba and seafood rice. The snorkeling is great and the staff is really good with young kids in the water. The gear (wetsuit, lifejacket, snorkel/mask and fins) comes with the “snorkel tour” but you can rent it separately too (per day). Of course, snorkel vests are free from Tsunami Scuba b/c it’s mandatory. Wetsuits are cheap to rent too, tho you won’t find small kid sizes on base – they did have them in 100cm and up at the resort. All in all, it was a fantastic getaway — low risk, high reward!!

  9. Is there transportation from Island to Island.. would like to visit Tokashiki Island then head over to Zamami Island. Thanks your website is wonderful!

  10. I’m planning a trip to Tokashiki and thanks to your blog I plan on staying at Tokashiku Marine Village. I’ve been doing a lot of research about the island and the only thing I haven’t been able to come up with is information on island transportation. For example if I wanted to go take a trip down to one of the other beaches what is the best way to get there? Also how was the communication barrier? I’m very patient but it would be a huuge blessing to know what to expect ahead of time.

  11. There is one more tip that I have that may be helpful to others going to Tokashiki… we rented our snorkel equipment from MCCS Tsunami Scuba before we went. It just saved us a few bucks each day because the rental fees at the hotel were quite a bit more expensive.

  12. Alicia- we did reserve our hotel ahead of time. My Japanese-speaking neighbor helped us out, but you can find some hotel information if you just Google “Tokashiki hotels”. There is actually a very good pamphlet about Tokashiki Island… we picked it up on the ferry but perhaps they have it at MCCS Tours+ or Kadena ITT. It lists all the hotels with phone numbers.

    Jen- the slide is in the “Forest Park” on the way to Aharen Beach. The slide was cool and the park looks great but it was really overgrown. There were lots of signs posted warning of habus, so while the slide was cool, we didn’t play at the rest of the overgrown area of the park.

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