Picturesque remote getaway and place to escape the crowds
Kume Island, located just a 30-minute flight from Naha, offers a picturesque remote getaway and the perfect place to escape the crowds. This volcanic island, often skipped by tourists, shares many of the prized qualities of other Okinawan islands but remains relatively undiscovered. With its stunning beaches, unique rock formations, and ancient castle ruins, Kume Island is a hidden gem waiting to be explored.
How to Get There
Kume Island is easily accessible by airplane or ferry. There are six to eight flights a day from Naha Airport to Kume Island, with a flight time of approximately 35 minutes. In the summer months, flights also run from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, taking about two and a half hours. Alternatively, a ferry operates twice a day between Naha Tomari Port and Kume Island, with a travel time of three and a half to four hours.
Once on Kume Island, the best way to get around is by rental car, scooter, or bicycle. Public transportation on the island is sparse and unreliable, so having your own mode of transportation will give you the freedom to explore at your own pace.
Kume Island offers several attractions that make it a must-visit destination. One of the highlights is Hatenohama, a seven-kilometer-long sandbar that makes for a great day trip. This remote sandbar is only accessible by tour boat and offers a secluded and serene beach experience. Half-day and full-day tours are available, and while there are no facilities on the sandbar, visitors can bring their own supplies and enjoy a picnic amidst the stunning natural beauty.
In addition to Hatenohama, Kume Island boasts three spectacular beaches to choose from. Eef on the southeast coast, Ara on the southwest, and Shinri in the far west offer pristine white sands and crystal-clear waters. While amenities may be fewer than at other beaches in Okinawa, these beaches provide a quieter and more serene escape from the crowds.
Kume Island is also home to two unusual rock formations that are worth checking out. Mifuga Rock, located on the north coast, is a strange wall-like formation with a giant hole big enough to walk through. It’s a unique spot for photo opportunities and exploring the fascinating geology of the island. On the eastern side of Kume Island, visitors can find Tatami-ishi, also known as the Tatami Stones. These flat rocks, resembling traditional Japanese tatami mats, are only exposed at low tide and were formed millions of years ago from contracting lava after a nearby volcano erupted. Walking among these ancient stones is like stepping back in time and offers a glimpse into the geological history of the island.
For history enthusiasts, a visit to Uegusuku Castle is a must. Built in the 15th century by the island’s rulers, the castle is now in ruins but still offers an impressive view of the island from its highest point. Exploring the castle grounds and imagining its former grandeur is a rewarding experience for those interested in the island’s past.
Your Choice of Beach
Kume Island offers three excellent beaches for visitors to choose from. Eef, located on the southeast coast, is known for its calm and shallow waters, making it an ideal spot for families with young children. The beach is surrounded by lush greenery, providing a tranquil and relaxing atmosphere.
Ara, on the southwest coast, is a popular spot for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts. The crystal-clear waters and abundant marine life make it a haven for underwater exploration. Visitors can rent snorkeling and diving equipment from nearby shops and discover the vibrant coral reefs and colorful fish that inhabit the area.
Shinri, in the far west, is a hidden gem known for its stunning sunsets. The beach offers breathtaking views of the horizon as the sun dips below the waterline. It’s a perfect spot to unwind and enjoy the natural beauty of Kume Island.
A Remote Sandbar
For those seeking a more secluded and remote beach experience, Hatenohama is the place to go. This seven-kilometer-long sandbar, located off the east coast of Kume Island, is only accessible by tour boat. The sandbar offers a pristine and untouched beach environment, with turquoise waters and soft white sands stretching as far as the eye can see. Visitors can take half-day or full-day tours to Hatenohama and enjoy the tranquility and serenity of this hidden paradise. It’s recommended to bring plenty of water and a picnic, as there are no facilities other than washrooms on the sandbar.
A Wall of Rock
Mifuga Rock, located on the north coast of Kume Island, is a fascinating rock formation that shouldn’t be missed. This wall-like structure features a giant hole big enough for visitors to walk through. The unique shape and geological composition of the rock make it a popular spot for photography and exploration. Walking through the hole and marveling at the natural forces that shaped the rock is a memorable experience.
A Floor of Stone
On the eastern side of Kume Island, visitors can find Tatami-ishi, also known as the Tatami Stones. These flat rocks, resembling traditional Japanese tatami mats, cover a stretch of about 1,000 meters and are only exposed at low tide. The stones were formed millions of years ago from contracting lava after a nearby volcano erupted. Walking among them is like stepping into a room of traditional Japanese architecture, with each stone measuring about one meter in diameter. The Tatami Stones offer a unique and otherworldly experience, allowing visitors to connect with the island’s ancient geological history.
Uegusuku Castle, located at Kume’s highest point, was once a formidable structure built by the island’s rulers in the 15th century. Today, only ruins remain, but they offer a glimpse into the island’s historical significance. Exploring the castle grounds and climbing to its highest point rewards visitors with a panoramic view of Kume Island, showcasing its natural beauty and scenic landscapes.
In summary, Kume Island is a hidden paradise in Okinawa, offering a picturesque remote getaway and the perfect place to escape the crowds. With its stunning beaches, unique rock formations, and ancient castle ruins, the island provides a diverse range of attractions for visitors to explore. Whether you’re looking for a tranquil beach experience, a remote sandbar adventure, or a glimpse into the island’s history, Kume Island has something for everyone. Don’t miss the opportunity to discover this hidden gem and create unforgettable memories in one of japan‘s most beautiful destinations.
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