Kume Island

Kumejima (vē) is one of the islands that make up the Okinawa Shoto island group. It is located about 90 kilometers west of Okinawa Honto. Like many other of the small islands surrounding Okinawa Honto, Kumejima offers a much less developed version of the beaches and Okinawan culture for which the prefecture is well known. Kumejima is quite small, and traveling from one end of the island to another rarely involves a journey longer than ten kilometers.

Like elsewhere in Okinawa, the beaches of Kumejima, snorkeling and diving are among the principal attractions for visitors. Hatenohama Beach, an approximately seven kilometer long sand bar surrounded by water just east of the island, is Kumejima's most famous attraction. The beach is highly regarded for its white sand, but can only be accessed by joining a tour. The other beaches of Kumejima are also quite attractive, and are generally less busy than the beaches found on Okinawa Honto.

Kumejima developed similarly to the rest of the archipelago, where regional rulers appeared and built castles as their seats of power. The Uegusuku Castle Ruins stand on one of the island's highest peaks, affording panoramic views of the surrounding area. However, the castle was not able to resist the forces from Okinawa Honto, and Kumejima became part of the Ryukyu Kingdom in the early 1500s.

Kumejima has two major towns, one is located around the port and is inhabited mostly by locals, while the other is a small town of hotels, restaurants and shops catering to the tourists, located alongside Eef Beach. A number of small attractions are scattered all throughout the island:

Beaches and Snorkeling

Hatenohama Beach

Half day around 3500 yen; full day with lunch around 6000 yen
Multiple companies operate tour boats between Kumejima and Hatenohama Beach. Half day and full day tours are offered. On the sandbar, swimming is restricted to the calmer northern beach, and the sand is a little rougher than it seems from a distance. The sea has a moderate variety of fish that can be observed by snorkelers. Washrooms are the only facilities available on the sandbar.

Ara Beach

Admission: Free, no parking fees
Located quite apart from most other attractions, Ara Beach offers visitors an attractive and secluded beach atmosphere. The beach is about 500 meters long, and its washroom and changing facilities are not well maintained. Ara Beach offers some good snorkeling opportunities, with a variety of sea life around a group of coral about 200 meters from the shore and a bit difficult to find. Beware of currents.

Eef Beach

Admission: Free, no parking fees
Eef Beach is located beside the main concentration of tourist activity on Kumejima. Nonetheless, it does not get excessively crowded, as it stretches about two kilometers along the coast. The beach has both washrooms and changing facilities, and nearby hotels and businesses offer a range of water activities.

Shinri Beach

Admission: Free, no parking fees
Shinri Beach is located in front of the Cypress Resort Hotel on the western coast of Kumejima and known for nice sunsets. The beach sits in front of a rocky inlet that almost completely drains during low tide.

Other Attractions

Uezu Residence

Hours: 9:00 to 18:00
Closed: No closing days
Admission: 300 yen
The Uezu Residence is built in the traditional Okinawan style with thick stone walls and red-tiled roofs. It was built in 1750 for a high ranked family. The house cannot be entered but only viewed from the outside. The grounds have two separate entrances, one for men and one for women.

Uegusuku Castle Ruins

Hours: Always open
Admission: Free
The Uegusuku Castle was the main fortification on Kumejima, located on the island's highest point about 300 meters above sea level. Nowadays only a few small stone walls remain, but the hilltop location still offers panoramic views over the island.

Pools of Tropical Fish

Hours: Always open
Admission: Free
On the northern coast of Kumejima exists an interesting spot along the coast where relatively large pools of water with a variety of sea life are separated from the sea during low tide. These pools allow visitors to observe the colorful sea life without even stepping into the water.

Tatami Ishi Rocks

Hours: Always open
Admission: Free
The Tatami Ishi are a rock formation on a small island connected to Kumejima by a bridge. They are named after tatami mats which they are supposed to resemble. Nearby are a sea turtle museum and a public bath house.

Torinokuchi Rock

Hours: Always open
Admission: Free
The Torinokuchi rock is located at the southern tip of Kumejima and resembles a bird's beak, after which it is named. The rock is accessible by a pleasant walking path that runs along the coast and the "whale viewing hill" with nice views onto the sea.

Mifuga Rock

Hours: Always open
Admission: Free
The Mifuga Rock is another unique rock formation along Kumejima's coast. There is a parking lot just beside the rock, and it is possible to walk through the hole in the rock.

Getting there and around

How to get to Kumejima

By air

JAL and RAC (Ryukyu Air Commuter), a member of the JAL Group, operate about 6-8 flights per day between Kumejima and Naha Airport on Okinawa Honto (how to get to Okinawa Honto). Flight duration is about 35 minutes. The regular one way fare is around 13,000 yen, however, discount tickets are usually available for around 8,000 yen.

During the summer, JAL operates one direct flight per day between Tokyo's Haneda Airport and Kumejima. Flight duration is about 2.5 hours. The regular one way fare is around 56,000 yen, however, discount tickets are usually available for about 20,000 yen. With an air pass you might be able to fly even cheaper.

By ferry

Kumejima (Kanegusuku Port) and Naha (Naha Tomari Port) are connected by ferries operated by the Kume Shosen Company. There are two round trips per day, with some of them stopping at Tonaki Island along the way. The one way trip takes 3.5 to 4 hours and costs 3450 yen. A round trip ticket is available for 6560 yen. Online reservations can be made through Direct Ferries.

How to get to and around the Okinawa Islands

How to get around Kumejima

Rental cars are available through a small number of companies at the airport and port and are the most convenient way to travel around the island, while bicycles and motorcycles can be rented from some hotels and minshuku on the island.

There are three bus lines on Kumejima: The Loop Line travels in a circle along the island's main road (4-5 buses per day in either direction), the Airport Line connects the airport with Eef Beach (5-6 round trips per day), and the Shimajiri Line travels from Eef Beach to the southern tip of the island (2-3 round trips per day). Fares depend on the distance traveled and range from 120 yen to 470 yen.