Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Tokashiki Island and Its Worldclass Picturesque Beaches

Just a 35-minute boat ride from Okinawa‘s capital, Naha, you will encounter the island where some of the world’s most beautiful beaches are located. Tokashiki Island (渡嘉敷島) is one of the best islands for a day trip from Naha. With close to 20 diving spots on the island, not only is it a diver’s paradise, but the color of the seawater is also so unique that the blue color is named Kerama Blue (ケラマブルー) after the Kerama Islands (慶良間諸島), where Tokashiki Island belongs to. In winter, you can join one of the whale-watching tours departing from Tokashiki Island!

One thing we want to make clear first is that Tokashiki Island’s photos don’t justify the beaches’ beauty. Wait until you arrive at one of the beaches on Tokashiki Island, and you will know the reason for this statement!

List of Content

The below attractions are mainly listed according to their distance from Tokashiki Port.

Refer to HERE for Tokashiki Island’s access information.

Tip: Make a booking with Tokashiku Marine Village if you are after an accommodation that can try its best to cater for special dietary requirements.

Tokashiki Island’s Profile

© 沖縄観光コンベンションビューロー

Tokashiki Island is located at the east end of the Kerama Islands. The island that is around 30km away from Naha has mountains of more than 200 meters in the north and a later terrain in the south. When you need some dry time from the beaches, you can trek through Tokashiki’s dynamic landscape!

The island is divided into three villages, Tokashiki (渡嘉敷) on the northeast, Aharen (阿波連) on the south, and Tokashiku (渡嘉志久) on the middle-west.

Besides the stunning beaches, Tokashiki Island’s number of lookouts is another characteristic. Thanks to its mountainous landscape, observation decks scattered throughout the island give you wonderful views overlooking the surrounding area. So when you need a break from the water, venture into Tokashiki Island’s mountains. You will encounter various tropical plants, birds, and insects (apart from mosquitoes). There might even be edible ripped berries!

Important: Taking any coral reefs or shells from Tokashiki Island is prohibited.

Tokashiki Island’s Swimming, Whale Watching, and Flower Season

  • Tokashiki Island’s swimming season is from early April to October.
  • From early January to late March, it is Tokashiki Island’s whale watching season.
  • Throughout the year: Bougainvillea (ブーゲンビリアやクバ)
  • Cherry blossoms: In January and February
  • Early summer: Easter lily (テッポウユリ)
  • Azalea (ケラマツツジ): February and March.
© 沖縄観光コンベンションビューロー

Tip: If you visit Tokashiki Island between May and July, check with the diving equipment rental shop to see if any Coral Spawning Tours (サンゴの産卵ツアー) are held during your time of visit. Many of them would hold the tour around the full moon. It is your chance to dive into the dark ocean for a rare and fantastic scene of coral spawning!

What to Wear on Tokashiki Island

Tokashiki Island is on the same latitude as Naha City, so the annual average temperature is about the same. You won’t need to pack extra clothing for Tokashiki Island.

While it can rain cats and dogs even if the weather forecast is sunny, the rain usually lasts only 10 minutes. So remember to bring rain gear unless you are happy to be sun-dried.

Furthermore, the sun is very strong in summer. Be sure to wear a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect yourself against UV rays. In winter, there are many cloudy days and cold mornings below 10 degrees. But on a sunny day, you can survive with a T-shirt.

Tip: Refer to the tide table HERE for the beaches mentioned below. You can translate it using Google Chrome’s translation function.

A Few Things to Be Aware of on Tokashiki Island

  • Cash is the king on Tokashiki Island. While there are ATMs, bringing enough cash with you is recommended.
  • Ensure you have 100 yen coins to utilize the shower facilities at Aharen Beach and Tokashiku Beach.
  • If you are experienced enough to snorkel and/or dive on your own, you will want to avoid visiting Aharen Beach and Tokashiku Beach between 9 am and 6 pm from mid-April to October when lifeguards are stationed. Otherwise, your activity will be restricted.

Snorkeling, Diving, and Nature and Wildlife Observation Tours

© 沖縄観光コンベンションビューロー

Even if you are a snorkeling beginner, you can rest assured that the many beaches around Tokashiki Island’s are shallow, with few rocky areas.

Of course, diving would be a lot more fun. So if you are experienced, you can dive deeper and further away offshore or hop onto a boat for areas filled with coral reefs where numerous tropical fish resides!

Depending on the weather conditions, the swimming season usually lasts until October.

Whether it is from the beach shore or a boat offshore, you might be able to spot a sea turtle!

Tokashiki Island’s Speciality

If you take a stroll in Tokashiki Island’s mountains from late March to April, you might notice some small red fruits on the tree. These wild rubus, called Rubus Illecebrosus in English, are called Ryūkyū Baraichigo (琉球バライチゴ) in Japanese. They are native to Okinawa and are grown on Tokashiki Island.

While you probably can’t bring these rubus home, you can purchase Ryūkyū Baraichigo’s products in Tokashiki Island shops. It can be Ryūkyū Baraichigo jam, or Ryūkyū Baraichigo flavored local snack, Ryūkyū Baraichigo Sata Andagi (琉球バライチゴサーターアンダーギー)!

Refer to our Best Markets and Arcades to Visit in Naha article to find out what Sata Andagi is!

How to Get to Tokashiki Island

Ferry Tokashiki and Tomarin

To get to Tokashiki Island, you can either take Ferry Tokashiki (フェリーとかしき) or the high-speed Marine Liner Tokashiki (マリンライナー) from Naha‘s Tomarikō Ferry Wharf (泊港), commonly known as Tomarin (とまりん), which is the passenger terminal building by the port.

Note that you have to board the ferry 10 minutes before it departs.

Important:
☛ Marine Liner Tokashiki’s ferry terminal isn’t in front of Tomarin but around a 10-minute walk northwest of Tomarin.
☛ If you have made an online reservation, remember to get your paper-based ticket at Tomarin’s ticket counter.

  • Ferry Tokashiki:
    • Takes around 70 minutes from Naha to Tokashiki Island by Ferry Tokashiki.
    • You can board the ferry 60 minutes before departure time.
  • Marine Liner Tokashiki:
    • It takes around 40 minutes from Naha to Tokashiki Island by Marine Liner Tokashiki.
    • The cost is higher than Ferry Tokashiki.
    • The number of passengers the ferry can take is limited. A reservation is recommended, especially in summer.
    • You can board the ferry 30 minutes before departure time.

Refer to Tokashiki Village’s website HERE for the ferry timetable and to reserve.

Tip: While you can get to Tokashiki Island faster by taking Marine Liner Tokashiki, Ferry Tokashiki has a deck. It is a better spot to spot flying fish and even a whale!

Important: While the return ticket is cheaper than two one-way tickets, the ferry may be canceled due to weather conditions. In this case, a refund for the trip’s second leg will incur a fee. And if you want to change from Marine Liner Tokashiki to Ferry Tokashiki, the difference in ticket price won’t be refunded to you. A reservation needs to be amended if the ferry is canceled.

How to Get Around on Tokashiki Island

The main transportation method on Tokashiki Island is by bus or taxi.

By Taxi

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There are two jumbo taxis with a capacity of 10 people serving Tokashiki Island. If you prefer to take a taxi, contact Yonehama Kōtsū (米浜交通) at +81-90-3078-5895. The cost is as below. If you need help with booking, you can talk to the staff at Tokashikimura Information Center.

  • Return from Tokashiki Port to Aharen Beach: 3,000 yen.
  • Private island tour: From 8,000 yen/2 hours

By Bus (とかしき観光バス)

If you only want to visit Aharen Village/Aharen Beach, Tokashiki Sightseeing Bus is cheaper. It will only take around 15 minutes to get to Aharen Beach.

You can refer to the official website HERE for the bus timetable and fare information. As it is only available in Japanese, translate the webpage using Google Chrome’s translation function at the right of the address bar.

  • A one-way cost from Toakshiki Port to Aharen Beach is
    • 400 yen for adults
    • 200 yen for elementary school students

The sightseeing bus might be waiting for you at Tokashiki Port once you get off the ferry. A reservation is not required, and payment is made when you get off the bus.

By Rental Car/Motorbike

However, we recommend renting a motorbike or a car from one of the rental shops at Tokashiki Port to save money and get to the spots where the sightseeing bus doesn’t get to. While bicycles can also be rented, you will have a hard time cycling up and down the hill.

Tips:
☛ Most of the accommodation facilities on Tokashiki Island provide pick-up and drop-off services. If you don’t want to rent a car but still want to visit the areas where the bus doesn’t stop, you can book accommodation in that area.
☛ The staff at the rental shops will most likely be able to run through a short session on what to look out for on Tokashiki Island, including sightseeing spots and traffic rules.

Important: Please don’t speed on Tokashiki Island because the elderly and children comprise a large portion of the island’s population. The speed limit in the three villages is 20km/hour.

The Islands that You Can Reach from Tokashiki Island

Tokashiki Island is just one of the larger islands in Kerama Islands designated as a national park. If you have time, how about making some reservations and exploring the area by island hopping?

The two islands that you can get to from Tokashiki Island by boat are Zamami Island (座間味島) and Aka Island (阿嘉島). Boat services are available twice a day, in the morning and evening. Instead of returning to Naha, utilizing the service departing from Tokashiki Island is more convenient and economical.

How to Travel from Tokashiki Island to Other Islands Close by

The ferries that depart from Aharen Port and travel between Aharen Port, Zamami Port (座間味港), and Aka Port (阿嘉港) are called Mitsushima (みつしま). You need to make a booking in advance to board. The ferry company starts taking reservations two months in advance.

The cost is:

  • 700 yen for a one-way ride
  • 1,500 yen for a return ride.

Note a 100 yen tax is charged when you travel from Zamami to Tokashiki.

Important: it is essential to make a booking if you want to board Mitsushima by calling +81-98-987-2614.

Tokashiki Village (渡嘉敷集落)

Tokashiki Village is the first village you will step foot on when you visit Tokashiki Island. Besides Tokashiki Port, it is where many communal facilities are located, including clinics, police stations, post offices and ATMs.

Tokashiki Port Observatory (港の見える丘展望台)

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Just like its name, the observatory close to the port gives you a wide view of Tokashiki Port. Along with Tokashiki village, you can enjoy the scenery of the harbor where ships come and go.

According to urban legend, if you say something at Tokashiki Port Observatory, everyone in the village center can hear you. That is why the locals never spoke ill of someone here in the past (´▽`*).

Note there are no vending machines or shops around Tokashiki Port Observatory. If you plan to adore the scenery from here for a while, it is best to bring drinks and snacks.

Tip: It is also recommended to visit the Aran Lookout, around a 10-minute walk away.

How to Get to Tokashiki Port Observatory

  • Shiratama no Tou Monument is around a 20-minute walk or a 10-minute drive from Tokashiki Port (渡嘉敷港).

Shiratama no Tou Monument (白玉之塔)

On the way to National Okinawa Youth Friendship Center from Tokashiki Port (国立沖縄青少年交流の家), there is a small hill after turning left following the police station. Following the road up the slope, there is a set of staircases on the right at the first right curve. Atop the stairs is a spacious area with a Kannon Bodhisattva and a white tower-like monument called Shiratama no Tou. This stone monument was erected to pray for the precious lives of about 572 people who died on Tokashiki Island during the invasion of Okinawa by the U.S. military during World War Two.

Each year on the 28th of March, Japan’s Day of Memorial (慰霊の日), a memorial festival (慰霊祭り) is held by the village to pray for the deceased residents, Japanese soldiers, military personnel, and defence forces. The festival and the monument are important reminders of the importance of peace.

How to Get to Shiratama no Tou Monument

  • Shiratama no Tou Monument is around a 10-minute walk or a 5-minute drive from Tokashiki Port (渡嘉敷港).

West Observatory (西展望台)

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If you are after an observatory located at the highest mountain of Tokashiki Island, it isn’t too far away from Tokashiki Port!

The West Observatory, also known as Nishiyama Observatory (北山展望台), is on Tokashiki Island’s highest mountain, Mt. Akama (赤間山). The ocean view from Wester Observatory is accompanied by the vegetation below you, giving you a different scenic photo from most observatories on the island. When the weather is good, besides Kerama Islands and Okinawa main island, you can see as far as Mt. Gusuku on Ie Island (伊江島タッチュー)!

Facing west, West Observatory is also a popular spot for sunset scenery. And during the whale watching season, you might be able to see whales from the West Observatory.

You might also find traces of watch towers from the Edo period. They were not just a defence line of the Kerama Islands but were also used to inform the approaching of the tribute or title-conferring ships to the Shurijō Castle in Naha.

How to Get to West Observatory

  • West Observatory is around an 8-minute drive or a 30-minute walk from Shiratama no Tou Monument.
  • It is around a 10-minute drive from Tokashiki Port (渡嘉敷港).

Tip: If the door on the way is closed, you can open it, but remember to close it after passing.

Group Self-Determination Site (集団自決跡地)

Disclaimer: The history underneath contains some distressing content that may be uncomfortable for you.

Close to West Observatory, there is a sad spot in the valley. It was where many islanders ended their lives together when the U.S. army landed on Tokashiki Island in March 1945.

The U.S. army invaded Tokashiki Island as a supply base for landing operations on the main island of Okinawa was needed. At the time, the Japanese army taught the locals that becoming a prisoner was shameful and would be tortured to death. So rather than being caught by the enemy, one should and would be better to end his life. On the 27th of March 1945, the U.S. army landed on Tokashiki Island. Islanders were gathered, but most were unaware of what would happen. At 10 am, an order was given to commit suicide together.

After the war, a monument was made to commemorate the event and for us to pray for them to rest in peace.

While the gate to the site is always closed, it is accessible. No permission is required to open it. But please close it after passing.

Note that the promenade to the site will be extremely slippery when wet.

East Observatory (東展望台)

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Proceeding further from the promenade, you will walk past another observatory. The East Observatory is another lookout on Mt. Akama, known as the Akamayama Observatory (赤間山展望台). Located on the summit of the 277-meter-tall mountain, the scenery from here is even better than the West Observatory!

In addition to the islands visible from West Observatory, you can see the horizon and Okinawa‘s main island clearly from East Observatory.

How to Get to East Observatory

  • East Observatory is around an 8-minute drive or a 35-minute walk from Shiratama no Tou Monument.
  • It is around a 10-minute drive from Tokashiki Port (渡嘉敷港).

Tip: If the door on the way is closed, you can open it but remember to close it after passing.

Aran Lookout (アラン展望台)

© photo-ac.com

As previously mentioned, Tokashiki Island is a famous spot for whale watching. The great news is that you can spot whales on shore from Aran Lookout from January to March if you are lucky!

Aran Lookout is a small pavilion at the side of the mountain road. So drive slowly as you approach the lookout (^_-)-☆.

While it may be unclear, the island on the other side of the horizon is Okinawa‘s main island.

Tip: Remember to bring a pair of binoculars.

How to Get to Aran Lookout

  • It is around a 15-minute drive from Tokashiki Port (渡嘉敷港).

Note that the road to Aran Observatory can sometimes be narrow so that only one car can pass.

Tokashiku Beach (渡嘉志久ビーチ)

Tokashiku Beach on the west side of Tokashiki Island is close to Tokashiku Village. Because it is located in a bay cove, the waves are calmer and easy to swim in. Compared to Aharen Beach, it is less busy. So while there are fewer shops around, it can be a better spot to enjoy the underwater world. Plus the chances of meeting a sea turtle are high at Tokashiku Beach!

For more information, including the hotel by the beach can cater to special dietary requirements, refer to our article on Tokashiku Beach!

© 沖縄観光コンベンションビューロー

Teruyama Observatory (照山展望台)

If you are not in a rush, how about visiting Teruyama Observatory in the middle of the prefectural highway connecting Tokashiki Port and Aharen Village? There is a small parking space close to the staircases leading to Teruyama Observatory. From there, it just a 5 to 10-minute hike to an amazing panoramic view of the ocean and Kerama Islands!

While there are stairs to climb before reaching the Teruyama Observatory, most of the well-maintained promenade is covered by trees on the side. The hike will be easier while you adore the azalea blooming from February to March and find red barberry in March and April.

The reward after the 10-minute stair-climbing is a magnificent panoramic view, with Tokashiku Beach and Zamami Island on the north, Aharen Beach and Hanari Island on the south, and many islands of the Keruma Islands on the west.

The best thing is you will most likely have this exclusive view to yourself when you are there. Most people simply would give it a pass because of the hike required (´▽`*).

How to Get to Teruyama Observatory

  • Teruyama Observatory is around a 15-minute drive from Tokashiki Port (渡嘉敷港).

Important: There are two ways to get to Teruyama Observatory. Remember to go down the same stairs you climb up from, as the two promenades don’t end up at the same place.

Tip: There is a toilet at the trailhead.

Tokashiki Guest House (トカシキゲストハウス)

© トカシキゲストハウス

If you want to base yourself between Tokashiki Island’s two best beaches (Aharen Beach and Tokashiku Beach), you can book one of the two cottages with Tokashiki Guest House. The good thing is the staff can speak English!

The cottages at the foot of Teruyama Forest Park are fully equipped with cookware, dishware, and all small appliances commonly found in the kitchen. So if you prefer to cook yourself a meal, it should also be an ideal choice for you!

Because there is no light pollution, you can adore a sky full of stars at night!

The best thing about Tokashiki Guest House is in addition to the pick-up and drop-off services upon arrival and departure, you can also be fetched to beaches and restaurants on Tokashiki Islands as long as it is between 7 am and 10 pm for free! After you check out from the guest house, they can look after your belongings and drop you off when you are ready to head to the port!

© トカシキゲストハウス

Important: The reception at the guest house is not good. Hence there is no TV placed in the cottages. Also, please bring your towels. For a list of available items, refer to the official website HERE. You can translate it using Google Chrome’s translation function at the right of the address bar.

How to Get to Tokashiki Guest House

  • Tokashiki Guest House is around a 10-minute drive from Tokashiki Port (渡嘉敷港).
  • The cottages are just a less than 5-minute walk from Teruyama Observatory.

Aharen Village (阿波連集落)

While small, Aharen Village is the busiest part of Tokashiki Island. Cafes, restaurants, hotels, and BnB fill the village center close to Aharen Beach.

As you stroll around the village, you will likely encounter a couple of cats, especially around the restaurants close to the beach. So if you are a cat lover, remember to leave yourself time for them (^_-)-☆.

Tip: Stop by Aragaki Shop (新垣商店) for food, snacks, groceries, and local specialities.

Aharen Beach (阿波連ビーチ)

Aharen-Beach-Tokashiki-Island-Okinawa-Japan
© 沖縄観光コンベンションビューロー

Aharen Beach, on the south of Tokashiki Island, is the most lively beach on the entire island. A photo taken from the south end of Aharen Beach could capture the entire arch-shaped beach’s beauty. When the weather is good, you will have the islands from afar as backdrops and a blue sky with white clouds complementing Aharen Beach’s Kerama Blue color!

For more information about swimming, snorkeling, and relaxing at the spot famed for the best beach on Tokashiki Island, refer to our article on Aharen Beach!

Hijuishi Beach (ヒジュイシビーチ)

North of Aharen Beach, a hidden beach remains unknown to most tourists. Hijuishi Beach is also known as Kubabayashi Oku Beach (クバ林奥の浜). Because the entrance to the beach isn’t clear, when Aharen Beach is filled with crowds, Kubabayashi Oku Beach might still be empty!

Instead of the main road, Hijuishi Beach can also be accessed from Kubandaki Observatory. You will also find a toilet close to the stairs leading up to the observatory. Just note the sandy road to Jijuishi Beach close to the stairs isn’t obvious. But if you use Google Maps’ Satellite view, you should be able to spot it. In fact, that road is the fastest way to get to Jijuishi Beach from Aharen Beach!

Important:
☛ The area where many coral reefs are growing is around 100 meters from the shore. Thus, fins are essential, and it isn’t recommended to dive here if you are a beginner.
☛ Depending on the weather conditions, the waves might give you motion sickness.

How to Get to Hijuishi Beach

  • Hijuishi Beach is around a 10-minute drive from Tokashiki Port (渡嘉敷港).
  • It is easier to get to Hijuishi Beach from the camping ground.

Mihanahara Promenade (見花原遊歩道) and Mihanahara Observatory (見花原展望所)

East of Aharen Beach, there is a 1km trekking trail where you can observe plants such as Okinawa cypress, Ryūkyū pine, and Round-leaved sundew. What awaits you at the end of the promenade is Mihanahara Observatory, where you can get a magnificent ocean view!

Important:
☛ Besides a few pavilions, there is no shade along Mihanahara Promenade.
☛ The stone surface leading to Mihanahara Observatory can be slippery. So a pair of sneakers are recommended.

How to Get to Mihanahara Promenade and Mihanahara Observatory

  • Mihanahara Promenade is around a 20-minute drive from Tokashiki Port (渡嘉敷港).
  • It will take around 20 minutes to hike from the trailhead to Mihanahara Observatory.
  • There is a parking space at the trailhead.

Aharen Cape Garden (阿波連園地)

Around 3km south of Aharen Village, there is a park with observation decks. The locals call this spot Hinakushi (ヒナクシ).

While there is no shade over the promenade leading to the pavilion close to the beach, the observatory area allows you to overlook the surrounding rocky terrain, cliffs, beaches, and islands scattered on the other end of the horizon.

© photo-ac.com
© photo-ac.com

Located close to the south end of Tokashiki Island and at a high altitude, it is a renowned spot to adore the sunrise and sunset! In addition, Aharen Cape Garden is where fog bows (a similar phenomenon to a rainbow) are regularly spotted!

Even better, there are three lookouts in and around Aharen Cape Garden. No matter which one you end up going, you will get some of the most breathtaking views (^_-)-☆.

Compared to other observatory areas on Tokashiki Island, Aharen Cape Garden is probably the most tourist-friendly. In addition to the car park, there is also a toilet facility.

Important: While it is possible to walk across to Un Island (Un Jima, ウン島) opposite Aharen Cape Garden at low tide, you might not be able to come back if you don’t have a clear idea of the tidal conditions.

How to Get to Aharen Cape Garden

  • Aharen Cape Garden is around a 30-minute drive from Tokashiki Port (渡嘉敷港).
    • It is around a 10-minute drive from Aharen Village center.

Nakachiburu Beach (中頭の浜)

The beach on Aharen Cape Garden’s left is called Nakatohama Beach. As it is a rocky beach with natural shade, it is a great hidden spot for those who don’t wish to dive or snorkel but prefer relaxing onshore.

If you suddenly feel like getting into the water, Ura Beach, on Aharen Cape Garden’s east, is pretty close.

Important: It is best to wear water shoes if you want to walk in the water so the potentially sharp rocks won’t hurt your feet.

Ura no Hama Beach (浦の浜ビーチ)

Another off-the-beaten-path beach on Tokashiki Island is Ura no Hama Beach (also known as Ura Beach), east of Aharen Cape Garden’s car park. Similar to Hijuishi Beach, it is where you can enjoy some quietness during the peak season. And the good news is that the maintained promenade’s trailhead is obvious!

But as it is located away from the port or bus stops, it is a spot more suitable if you have access to a car or motorbike.

Tips:
☛ While you can get a clear view of Ura Beach from the observatory in Aharen Cape Garden, it isn’t the best lookout. If you proceed further to the rocky area from the observatory, you will get a better view as it has a higher altitude.
☛ You will get the front light for your photos in the afternoon.

Compared to other beaches around Tokashiki Island, Ura Beach has more coral reefs growing in colonies in shallow water. So relatively speaking, it is the beach where you can easily see rich coral reefs on Tokashiki Island.

Important: There are no shower facilities or shops/restaurants at Ura Beach.

Discover Other Islands in the Keruma Islands National Park

Click the photo for more travel islands in Keruma Islands!

The Kerama Islands are a subtropical island group comprising more than 20 islands. If you have time, you can island-hop the three inhabited islands and even the few uninhabited islands to enjoy what the national park has to offer.

For more information, refer to our article on Keruma Islands!