Tokashiki-jima is an island in the Keramas off the coast of the main island of Okinawa. It is an easy ferry ride from Tomari Port in Naha, with a few trips per day. It is a gorgeous island, far from the concrete jungle that makes up Naha.
It is enough time to do a day trip if you leave on the first ferry of the day, then the last coming back. It is possible to stay overnight if you wish (there is a camp ground and a few small guesthouses/hotels to stay).
When you get off the 40 min- 1 hr ferry ride, there is an information area and buses. The bus will shuttle you to the other side of the island where the popular beach Aharen 阿波連ビーチ is located. There is also Tokashiku beach, which is a bit smaller, but less crowded 渡嘉志久ビーチ and a higher chance of seeing 海亀 sea turtles (honu, to the Hawaiians). The bus only runs between the ferry port and Aharen beach, so visiting any other sites on the island requires your own mode of transportation; taxi, moped, car, walking.
You can rent a car, scooter, or bike. But there is a large hill, so I really do not recommend bicycle. To be honest though, my husband and I walked one way (it was a healthy walk) and it was not unbearable, it probably took less than an hour, even with all the stopping and photo-taking. We admittedly took the bus back, since we were tired after a long day.
You can rent all sorts of beach gear and snorkel gear here (but I recommend bringing your own if possible). There are also glass bottom boats and a service that will take you to another small uninhabited island Nagannu-jima ナガンヌ島 for excellent snorkeling adventures (keep in mind there is no shade, so be prepared). You can even stay overnight camping or in a cottage on Nagannu-jima as well (just don’t expect much in the way of amenities…).
As an avid snorkeler and occasional diver, the beaches are decent for snorkeling (free if you have your own gear), but going with a professional boat tour is worth the money. I have done a Keramas dive tour with Seasir out of Naha on their private boat (no ferry to deal with), and it was very good. So, just keep this in mind.
As far as food goes, it is very tourist-friendly. That is to say, basically everywhere had English (and even Chinese and Korean) on the menus. Of course, being able to speak Japanese will make it easier for everyone, so give it a shot and practice! We went to a nice small place located by Aharen beach serving Okinawan food called Maasaanoten まーさーの店; my husband got fried fish and I got yakisoba, and of course a beer. After swimming, we went to the place that had beer and a view on the upper patio– what a relaxing way to end the day before climbing on to the bus to go back to the ferry.
***Some important things to know:
- There are no ATMs on Tokashiki-jima and none of the places take credit card, so BRING YEN. There are signs all over the ferry terminal and you will be reminded when you purchase tickets.
- The Ferry service will sell out during peak season (summer) and holidays. Reserve your seats in advance.
- I do not advise taking your car. It is a hassle, and the cost is not worth it. Rent or take the bus, it is cheaper.
- There is plenty of parking at the ferry terminal, but you do have to pay to park.
- Bring sunscreen– don’t be those lobster red tourists.
- There are vending machines on the ferry, and a few around town, so it is not necessary to bring your own drinks unless you want to. There are a few snacks at the small shop, but it is better to bring your own.