How to get to Yakushima
Most visitors to Yakushima, whether traveling by air or sea, will pass through Kagoshima (see how to get to Kagoshima). The only way to circumvent Kagoshima is by taking a direct flight from Osaka or Fukuoka to Yakushima.
By high speed boat from Kagoshima
High speed jetfoil boats operate daily between Kagoshima (high speed ferry terminal of Kagoshima Port) and Yakushima (Miyanoura or Anbo Port). Direct boats depart every 1-3 hours (fewer in winter). It is also possible to travel via neighboring Tanegashima Island. The one way ride takes 2-3 hours depending on stops and cost 8,400 yen. A round trip ticket costs 15,000 yen and must be used within seven days. Online reservations can be made through Direct Ferries.
By car ferry from Kagoshima
A daily car ferry leaves every morning from Kagoshima New Port (just south of the main Kagoshima Port) to Miyanoura Port on Yakushima, before returning to Kagoshima in the afternoon. The one way ride takes four hours and costs 5000 yen. A round trip fare of 9500 yen is available outside of the busy travel seasons (Golden Week, Obon and New Year). The cost for bringing an average sized car onto the ferry is about 20,000 yen one way.
By high speed boat from Ibusuki
There is one jetfoil per day between Miyanoura Port on Yakushima and Ibusuki on the Satsuma Peninsula. The one way ride takes 75 minutes and costs 7000 yen. A round trip ticket costs 12,600 yen and must be used within seven days. Online reservations can be made through Direct Ferries.
By air from Kagoshima
There are multiple flights per day between Kagoshima Airport and Yakushima Airport. Flight duration is 35 minutes. The regular one way fare is around 16,000 yen, but discount fares are usually available for around 10,000 yen. Flights are operated by Japan Air Commuter, a member of the JAL group. Note that Kagoshima Airport is located almost one hour outside the city center.
By air from Osaka
Japan Air Commuter, a member of the JAL Group, operates one round trip per day between Osaka's Itami Airport and Yakushima. Flight duration is about 100 minutes. The regular one way fare is around 39,000 yen with discount fares available for around 27,000 yen. (How to get to Osaka)
By air from Fukuoka
Japan Air Commuter, a member of the JAL Group, operates one round trip per day between Fukuoka and Yakushima. Flight duration is about one hour. The regular one way fare is around 27,000 yen, but discount fares are usually available from around 15,000 yen. (How to get to Fukuoka)
Above fees and schedules are subject to change. For the current yen exchange rate, click here.
Yakushima is developed all along its coast except in the west where the steep mountain slopes run all the way into the sea. A road encircles the island connecting the towns together, and the majority of Yakushima's hotels, beaches, hot springs, waterfalls and museums are within a short distance of it.
Yakushima's roads are easy to drive except for the one along the west coast as well as the ones that lead into the island's interior as they are narrow and winding. The cedar forests are located in the mountainous interior and are accessed by a few roads from the larger towns, such as Miyanoura and Anbo, which lead to the various hiking trails and nature parks.
Getting around by car
The most convenient way to get around Yakushima is by rental car. Rental companies are located at Miyanoura Port and at the airport. Additionally, a car is the only way to access some of the trailheads and to circle the entire island since the narrow road along the western coast cannot be traversed by bus. It takes about three hours to circle the island by car. Note, that the Arakawa trailhead cannot be access by private car (except in winter). Shuttle buses have to be used instead.
Getting around by bus
Yakushima is served by two bus operators: Tanegashima-Yakushima Kotsu and Matsubanda Kotsu.
Buses run about once per hour along Yakushima's coast except along the west coast (between Nagata and Okonotaki). Buses into the interior are less frequent: there are lines from Miyanoura Port to Shiratani Unsuikyo and from Anbo Town to Yakusugi Land and the Kigensugi. From March to November, access to the Arakawa trailhead is provided by shuttle buses from the Yakusugi Museum (also known as Yakusugi Shizenkan).
One, two, three and four-day bus passes are available for 2000, 3000, 3000 and 4000 yen respectively (yes, the two and three-day passes both cost 3000 yen), however, they are only valid on buses operated by Tanegashima-Yakushima Kotsu. They are not valid on buses operated by Matsubanda Kotsu and on the shuttle buses.