The Kerama islands are the closest islands to Naha. They are beautiful and perfect for getting away for the day at the beach, camping, or the chance to see some really nice coral and of course hang out with the local ALT.
There are two boats, the Marine Liner (fast boat- 35 minutes) and the Ferry Kerama (slow boat-one hour ten min) that leave from Tomarin Port on the 58. You can call the port at 868-7541 for boat times.
Once you arrive on the island:
If you didn’t bring a car or bike find the buses. There should be a row of them in the parking lot and get a ride over to Aharen beach (it usually costs about 500yen round trip). (There are two main beaches, but Tokashiku doesn’t have as much coral and there isn’t much to do there).
AHAREN- is the main beach town. There are a bunch of small restaurants, a couple izakayas, snorkeling gear rental places, and lots of expensive pensions. If you are staying over night you can camp at the campsite (300yen if you have your own tent), the office is next to the parking lot where the bus lets you off.
Stuff to do… kayaking (you can rent them at Sea Friend restaurant), snorkeling- there is great snorkeling on just about all the beaches around Aharen, diving, whale watching (February to April), hanging out with resident ALT, creating gossip about ALT on Mon morning, hiking or driving around many roads with beautiful scenery that go nowhere, and fishing. In the summer there is more touristy stuff like banana boat rides, sunset cruises, and maybe windsurfing…check with the ALT or a pension to see what’s available.
Stuff to eat… there are a few soba shops right by the entrance to the beach or you can head over to Sea Friend for a more substantial lunch or if you’re there over night they usually have a good Thai curry, a small izakaya called Yuyu that’s on the main road- nice atmosphere, Mameya which is a place with a nice deck and good soba, or Masa (near the main entrance to the beach) which has really good fish and the usual Okinawan fare.
Diving… You can arrange boat dives through any of the dive shops. If you are doing two dives they generally leave at about 9am so you might want to arrange it before you get to Tokashiki, unless you are staying for more than one day.
If you are staying for awhile and you have transportation or you feel like going for a very long walk, the top of the hill where the youth center is located is a great place to watch the sunset as you can see over all of the Kerama islands. There is also a restaurant in Toshiki (town where the port is) called Marine Box and of course it turns into an after hours karaoke bar.
Tokashiku- You probably don’t want to hang out here for too long as it’s not the nicest beach and is only equipped with one resort-not much to eat here. The great thing about this place is that there are sea turtles that are usually just off the beach in front of the hotel. The national youth center campground is also here.
Other places to stay- As a teacher you can rent out rooms in the national youth center or at their campsite and use all their facilities. It’s fairly cheap, but you have to put up with all their plans and schedules.
If you have a large group and want something a little more comfortable than a tent you can rent the village’s log cabins (call the Yakuba for this).
Here are few numbers for diving/pensions. There are a bunch more guesthouses and you can get information for them at Tomarin Port. All of the place listed are guesthouses and dive shops. The English level at all of these places depends on whether any of the seasonal help speak English, but they are all friendly minshukus:
- Southern Cross 098-987-2258
- Marine House 098-987-2335
- Sea Friend 098-987-2836 (biggest, but most expensive)
- Hirata 098-987-2335