If your idea of a holiday is the sound of the spinnaker flapping in the breeze or the gentle waves lapping while you are making your sand castle kingdom, then put Aharen village on the west coast of the Kerama islands on top of your list for your next holiday.
The village of Aharen, on the west coast of Tokashiki Island, is caught in a time warp, one that starts the moment you board the hour long ride on the ferry from Port Tomari in the capital Naha. It is like you are crossing the moat to another part of your life, one left behind by the busy-ness of life. There is just one elementary school and one road that leads out of the village into the wooded hills, so for most of the day, it is largely vehicle free.
It is however by no means a surfing or hippie town, despite all the locals bearing a healthy caramel hue from the sun and the visitors from the big smoke being pasty white. There were no waves to speak of when I visited in September, so the picture post card of still turquoise and cerulean blue waters is an apt description. The coral reef is within swimming distance from the beach, but it is best to go on a guided half day kayak and snorkel adventure with Islands Trip adventures. The dramatic grottoes, soaring cliffs, twenty meter deep crystal clear visibility and the small islands that dot the bay make it a photographer’s delight.
Tokashiki Island, otherwise known as Tokashiki son in the Kerama Isles, is a quiet, wooded island, beautiful and solitary at the same time, a place left behind by modernity. Just past the village there is what looks like to be an abandoned aquarium, with empty concrete fish tanks and slightly overgrown paths, a ghost of its former self. It makes you wonder what the place would have been like in its heyday. For people who would like time for reflection during their vacation away from noise of the city, this sense of seclusion, is part of its charm.
In the center of this village there is an old lady at a beach shack that has been making Okinawan Soba noodles with love for over forty years. At night Barack Izakaya serves as an informal hub for the community with their homely style of Tonkatsu served by a traditional Okinawan husband and wife team.
There is accommodation to suit all tastes in this village, from the slightly threadbare looking beachside campsite run by the youth hostel, to the homely Southern Cross pension with ocean views from the ensuite bathroom. At the top end Kerama Terrace resort offers panoramic views of the beach and fine Japanese and French cuisine, while Half Time offers simple tatami rooms with an American themed outdoor courtyard.
Kerama Airport (KJP) is the closest airport from Aharen village, however most visitors come here by ferry and bus from Naha.