Most people come to Yakushima to see the cedar forests; however, there are a lot of things to see and do on the island besides hiking. There are a number of other outdoor attractions as well, including nature watching, snorkeling, scuba diving, waterfalls, museums and onsen.
One of the best ways to see the island is to take a drive around its perimeter. The mountainous slopes and cliffs along parts of the coast offer some excellent scenery, especially along the western coast where the UNESCO world heritage site extends to the sea and the roads are too narrow and winding for the buses to run.
Whether hiking or driving, you are likely to encounter Yakushima deer and monkeys, locally referred to as Yakushika and Yakuzaru. As in all national parks, do not feed or approach the wild animals.
In June and July sea turtles come ashore on the northwest and southwest beaches of Yakushima to lay their eggs. Special precautions are required to see them, and guided tours are available.
There are also a few hot springs around the island. Of interest are the coastal baths of Hirauchi Kaichu Onsen in the south near Yudomari. Its baths are notable as they are usually underwater except for a few hours before and after low tide.
Some attractions around Yakushima
Yakusugi Museum (Yakusugi Shizenkan)
5 minutes by car from Anbo Port Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (admission until 16:30) Closed: 1st Tuesday of every month Admission: 600 yen English: Good (free English audio guide)
The Yakusugi Museum displays the ecology, history and industry of the forests on Yakushima Island. Here you can learn about the Yakushima cedar trees, the products that come from them and how they were harvested.
Environmental Culture Village Center
5 minute walk from Miyanoura Port Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (admission until 16:30) Closed: Mondays (or the next day if Monday is a national holiday), December 28 to January 1. Open every day from mid July through August. Admission: 530 yen
The Environmental Culture Village Center teaches about the nature and culture of Yakushima. Its main attraction is a film about the island shown on a 14 meter high screen.
Just off the main road
Okonotaki is a spectacular waterfall on the west side of Yakushima Island. The 88 meter high waterfall is considered one of Japan's 100 best and can be viewed from just a few steps from the parking area.
10 minute drive from the main road
Senpironotaki is another of Yakushima's larger waterfalls which is located near the southern coast of the island. There is a viewpoint overlooking the falls which is a short walk from the parking area.