Experience the oceans like never before
Tokashiki Island is a quick getaway west of Naha City, with a relaxed, secluded sub-tropical island vibe, yet with most amenities a First World traveler would desire, from resorts with ocean views, guided tours and a reasonable variety of local and international cuisine.
The easiest and cheapest way to arrive is on a public ferry from Tomari Port, a 20 minute level walk from Miebashi monorail station or 15 minute walk from the bus stop (routes 99, 11 or 3) near Hotel Rasso on the main road heading north of the city. It is not the prettiest of walks, however Port Tomari is easy to find, as you just head west towards the sea. Alternatively it is a short (600 yen or less) taxi ride from Kokusai Dori shopping street if you have a lot of luggage.
There are two ferry services to Tokashiki Island. The larger car and passenger Ferry Kerama takes 70 minutes, while the smaller Marine Liner ferry takes 35 minutes. You do pay a premium for speed; however the boat you select is more likely to be based on your departure time, as there are only three services a day between the two services. You can call the port at 868-7541 for boat times. If you are going on a day trip, you should board the morning fast ferry, allowing you enough time to see the sights and take a guided snorkeling tour at Aharen before boarding the afternoon’s slow or fast ferry back. However, I suggest that an overnight trip is a better way to slow down to the pleasures of island time. Watching the moon rise over the still, mirror-like waters at Aharen Beach is particularly relaxing.
When timing your visit to Tokashiki Island, I suggest that you arrive at the Ferry terminal at least 30 minutes before departure, to allow time to buy the ticket and walk to the wharf. It takes two minutes to walk to the Ferry Kerama, and about ten minutes to walk to the Mariner Liner ferry from the ticket office in the Ferry Terminal. If you are boarding the Marine Liner, the ticket office staff will give you at least two pieces of paper, one being the ticket and the other a map from the ticket office to the small Marine Liner ferry. It is fairly easy to get there from the ticket office; you just follow the pathway/ roadway along the port.
On the way to Tokashiki Island, you will see the massive harbor bridge as well as glimpses of Naha Airport, making it a scenic diversion for planes spotters. You will also pass the main Sea port where Cruise ships from surrounding countries dock. Soon Naha City disappears and as you breathe in the fresh ocean breeze on the top deck, you will find yourself slowing down, to a place that has not changed since your childhood.The ride itself is fairly smooth, so you are unlikely to get seasick, though for those prone to feeling dizzy, some tablets and a view from the center of the ferry will calm you. If there is a typhoon that day the ferry is likely to be canceled, so you are assured of a safe and pleasant trip.
Technically there is space on both services to accommodate a bicycle; however you can rent bicycles and scooters when you get off at Tokashiki Island, especially in the shoulder and peak seasons between March and November. The road from the ferry drop off to the best snorkeling beach in Aharen Village on the other side goes through some scenic green hills, and it can be a challenge on a push bike. There are also connecting shuttle buses from the Ferry to Aharen Village, and most guesthouses and hotels offer a complementary pick up service for guests who have reserved it in advance. As many guesthouse owners do not speak much English, it is best if you get the receptionist from your previous hotel to call in advance for you.
A limited snack service may also operate on the ferry, though I suggest that you bring some food and snacks along for the ride. Unlike some other countries where Island food means inflated prices, the food and accommodation costs at Tokashiki Island are very reasonable. A hot meal at Baraku will cost you less than 1,000 yen, while your own room at the beach-side Southern Cross Pension is around 6,000 yen a night including a hearty hot breakfast, complete with home made miso soup and eggs.
The Ferry Kerama departs once daily at 10:00 from Naha’s Port Tomari, and returns at 15:30 from Tokashiki in the winter months (Oct to Feb inclusive). It returns at 16:00 during the summer months (Mar to Sep inclusive). Fares are 1,620 yen one way, and 3,080 yen return. Children pay half price.
The Marine Liner Tokashiki departs twice daily. The morning service departs Naha’s Port Tomari at 9am, while the evening service departs at 16:30. During the winter months (Oct to Feb inclusive) it departs half a hour earlier at 16:00, presumably to allow it to return during daylight. From Tokashiki Port it departs at 10:00 and 17:30 (17:00 Oct to Feb inclusive). In peak season, during Golden Week (3rd to 5th May), July and August, and weekends in September, there is an additional third service, departing Port Tomari at 13:00 and Tokashiki at 14:00. This schedule is subject to change, so check the website or call the office if you wish to double check. Fares are 2,420 yen one way, and 4,620 yen return. Children pay a little over half price, at 1,220 yen one way, and 2,320 yen return.