Okinawa is the southernmost prefecture in Japan and is often described as a tropical paradise, known for white sand beaches, friendly local people, and great food. This group of islands close to Taiwan is a great holiday destination for those who are looking to shake off the stress of the city and take a break with sun, sand, and sea.
Taketomi Island is easily reachable from Ishigaki Island, at only ten minutes by ferry from Ishigaki Port. You can reach Taketomi with one of the two ferry companies, Ishigaki Dream Tours and Yaeyama Kanko Ferry. At Ishigaki Port, you can also get package tours to make the most of your time on this beautiful island. If you are venturing out to Taketomi, add some of these great activities to your itinerary!
1. See Fish from the Glass Bottom Boat
Upon arriving at the ferry terminal, there are tours to go out on a glass bottom boat and spot some tropical fish. The tour lasts around twenty minutes and from the boat, you can see a variety of fish darting around in the shallow part of the ocean and among the coral reefs. It is a great opportunity to get some photographs of local marine life if you don’t want to or can’t go snorkeling or diving.
This activity isn’t recommended if you get seasick easily because the small boat rocks rather a lot during the tour. With the clear glass on the bottom of the boat and the clean sea boasting many pretty fish, this short activity is a great way to start off your adventure on Taketomi Island.
2. Ride a Cart Pulled by a Water Buffalo
This very special tour isn’t something you can do in Tokyo or Kyoto! The large water buffalos on Taketomi Island are well trained and very strong; they can pull carts holding around twenty people. It is an exciting experience to see how the local man handles the creatures, gives them a “shower” (spraying them with cold water) along the way. The buffalo also know the routes by heart as they are trained to go the correct way.
You may also see your host singing or playing the shamisen, a traditional Japanese instrument. It really adds authenticity to your trip to hear a person brought up on Taketomi sing one of their folk songs.
3. Visit the Beach
Just a few minutes’ walk from the water buffalo area is the beach, with emerald sea and white sands. It is a great place to take pictures, paddle in the water, and maybe have a picnic. In summer, it is a popular place to swim.
4. Eat Succulent Pork Soba
There are several restaurants on Taketomi Island, and a highly recommended one is Takenoko, which sold amazingly juicy pork on top of homemade soba noodles. There was a choice of boneless pork or pork with bone, and although other dishes such as curry rice were available, it is recommended you try this delicious local dish while you are on Taketomi Island.
Okinawa is not only known for its marine activities! Winter is a great time to visit Taketomi Island because there are fewer tourists, and the above activities are all available during this season. Okinawa is a great place to visit for stress relief and a few days in the sun with the same delightful Japanese hospitality. If you visit Taketomi Island, be sure to give this exciting and unique experience a try.