Taketomi Island is really about taking it easy and taking in the views.
The perfect way to do this is to go for a leisurely bike ride around the island.
You can make a visit to Taketomi Island a part of your trip to Japan by adding in some time to go to the far south islands of Okinawa.
Within Okinawa prefecture, there’s the Yaeyama Islands.
And Taketomi Island is a part of the Yaeyama Islands.
The way to get to Taketomi is by ferry from the neighboring Ishigaki Island.
You can stay overnight in Ishigaki for a perfect 3 days in the Yaeyama Islands:
- Day 1: Hiking in Ishigaki
- Day 2: Day trip from Ishigaki to Taketomi Island!
- Day 3: Famous Ishigaki views + Snorkeling in Ishigaki
Best things to do on Taketomi Island
1. Kondoi Beach
2. Kaiji Beach (star-sand beach)
3. Nishi-sanbashi pier
Here’s what your one day trip to Taketomi Island can look like!
First, the quick list…
2. Rent a bicycle
3. Go cycling around the island!
4. Ferry from Taketomi port back to Ishigaki
A bit more details on how to spend time on Taketomi Island!
I started my day late morning, and I found this was a good amount of time and I didn’t really feel rushed.
- 11:00am Ferry to Taketomi from Ishigaki ferry port
- 11:15am Arrive at Taketomi
- Rent a bicycle
- Cycling around the island! (with stops at scenic points + beach hopping)
- 5:15pm Ferry back to Ishigaki ferry terminal
- 5:30pm Arrive back at ferry terminal
After you get your bicycle, the order of places to visit isn’t so important as the island is relatively small, and it can feel even smaller since you’re getting around by bike.
If you’re not renting a bike, you’ll probably want to more carefully look at the map to plan out your day since going by foot will take longer.
In any case, here’s what a sample day on Taketomi island could look like!
So once you get off the ferry, you’ll almost immediately see a row of shuttles buses.
A number of these are shuttles to take you to get a bicycle rental.
You can basically choose any of them. You don’t need to make any reservations in advance.
I got on the maroon-colored shuttle.
Then this will take you to the bicycle rental shop.
The bike shop I ended up at seemed very accommodating to English speakers, as a guy here pulled me aside from the main line to provide me with a bicycle and other information about the island. (Including explaining possible places to visit on a map.)
The cost of my bicycle rental was 2,000 yen (US$18) for the day.
I got a “mountain bike” so this was slightly more expensive.
The cost of an ordinary bicycle rental is 1,500 yen (US$14) for the day.
There are also fat bikes and tandem bikes too.
It’s also an option to rent a bike at an hourly rate, and that starts at 300 yen (US$3) per hour for an ordinary bike.
If do decide NOT to rent a bike on the island, make your first stop from the ferry port the building that’s located right nearby. (And be prepared to walk a lot on the island!)
Here is basically the visitor’s center.
You can get a free English map here to use for the day, but you do need to return it.
There’s a detailed Japanese map that you can buy for 200 yen (US$2) as well.
If you’re renting a bike, you don’t need to stop by for a map as you will likely get one with your bicycle rental. (I received a map anyway.)
There are toilets and coin lockers located inside this building as well.
Start cycling around the island!
Since the bicycle shop is basically in “town,” first you’ll start off by riding through the streets of the “village.”
Again, the order you go to the scenic points isn’t important, but at some point you’ll probably be backtracking.
This is the main (only?) swimming beach and beach-lazing area on Taketomi Island.
So if you’re looking to get in some sun or to get in the water, this is where you’ll want to go.
This beach also has some facilities too so this can make it among the most convenient scenic look-out point.
It seems from online reports that this is somewhat of a snorkeling beach, but I didn’t see any fish.
That doesn’t mean that you won’t though if you go snorkeling here!
If you want to get in some beach time, Kondoi Beach is the beach to do so at.
And then after a visit to Kondoi Beach, these are mainly some scenic viewpoints!
(Or maybe you want to go to the scenic points first so you can finish your day off at the beach!)
Kaiji Beach (star-sand beach)
So Kaiji Beach aka Hoshizuna Beach aka Star-Sand Beach is one of the popular spots on Taketomi Island because of the type of sand you can find at this beach.
That’s why with a visit here, you’ll see people crouched down seemingly looking for something.
They are looking for that famous star-shaped sand!
And it is possible that you can find some too. (Not as much as the above photo though – that’s souvenir sand!)
When I was there, people were successfully finding this type of sand.
And aside from the sand, this beach is again good for the views. (Which can basically be said anywhere along the coast on Taketomi Island!)
Besides the views…
This isn’t really a snorkeling area but I did see fish here!
When you walk out to the pier, you can have a look in the water from above to see if you can see any fish in the water.
When I was there, you could see some on the left side of the pier, as you’re walking out toward the ocean.
And, seeing some other people further out in the water…
I decided to get in the water too. (Follow the lead of others… 😉 I think they were trying to catch fish, though.)
I think snorkeling at Yonehara Beach on Ishigaki Island will provide you near-guarantees of fish sightings if you want to save your snorkeling activity for another day! (But it is nature, so no absolute guarantees!)
After I finished up visiting what seemed to be the 3 top coastal spots on Taketomi Island (Kondoi Beach, Kaiji Beach, and Nishi-sanbashi pier), I looked at the map and it seemed like there might be something up north of the island.
So I biked up that way.
There was another scenic coastal point along the way…
And then the Misashi-on area also provided more views!
And then finally…
Taketomi to Ishigaki ferry
Off to return the bicycle rental, and then they also offered a shuttle back to Taketomi ferry port!
Be sure to see how to spend the rest of your days on Ishigaki island with hiking, snorkeling, and another boat ride!
HAPPY TAKETOMI ISLAND VISIT!
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There's an online train ticket booking method that's popular for other parts of Asia, and they are just now branching out to Japan.
You can now buy train tickets online here for popular shinkansen train routes. (And some bus routes too.)
I've used this booking site for taking the train from Thailand to Malaysia, and it worked out well, so I would expect it to work out well in Japan too!
The thing is, though, that you need to pick up the physical train tickets in person.
So it won't be enough to just buy the tickets online. I had to do this in Bangkok for my train ticket - and it was easy! So again, I would think it'd be easy for Japan train tickets too.
Search for popular routes in Japan here. For example, Tokyo to Kyoto.
If you end up buying train tickets online this way, I would love to hear how it goes! Whether that's good, or if it came with some challenges!
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My travel insurance took care of my accommodation and food costs when I was forced to stay extra days in Japan because of a typhoon.
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