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Water buffalo tours
A trip to Taketomi is all about taking it easy and its most popular tourist attraction of taking a tour on a water buffalo driven cart reflects this. These tours are relatively inexpensive, costing around ¥1200 and in most cases the driver will sing tradition Okinawan songs while playing the shamisen. Another bonus of taking a tour is that customers are typically offered a complimentary ride to the village center. Look out for mini-buses when you arrive at Taketomi's ferry terminal.
Taketomi village lies around 10 minutes from the island's ferry terminal by foot. The village's traditional, clay-tiled, single story dwellings make for a picturesque stroll through its narrow lanes. Many of the roofs are decorated with traditional 'shiisaa' figurines which are thought to bring luck to inhabitants.
Kondoi's beautiful crescent-shaped bay has made it the most popular beach on the island. Its beautiful turquoise water is relatively shallow meaning that anybody can enjoy a dip in the ocean and there's reasonable snorkeling to be enjoyed if you own / rent gear. To the rear of the beach there is a picnic area, showers, and public conveniences. Parasols and deckchairs are also available for rental.
During low tide a small island of sand is revealed to the west of the beach, around 100 meters from the shore. People wade out to this spot to sunbathe while taking in the view of the islands of Iriomotejima and Kohama in the distance. Kondoi is located on Taketomi's west coast and is signposted from the centre of the village (although most signs are in katakana).
This lovely stretch of sand lies just a 5 minute stroll to the south of Kondoi. The beach isn't quite up to that of Kondoi's but the view is fantastic and the trees which line the rear of the beach provide welcome shade from the sun.
Kaiji beach is a great place to search for 'star sand'. Star sand isn't actually sand at all, it is formed from the remains of tiny star-shaped crustations which barely exceed a millimeter in diameter. Collecting the sand is a painstaking task but if you haven't got time you'll be pleased to learn that it's sold at souvenir stores, including the stall on the beach, for a very reasonable price.
Most people will be able to visit all of the island's key sights and beaches on foot during a day trip. Taketomi's narrow dirt tracks mean that car rental isn't an option but there are a few companies which rent out bicycles and this has become the most popular means of getting around the island. Prices range from around ¥300 an hour to ¥1500 for a full day.
Getting to Taketomi
Getting to Taketomijima couldn't be easier. Three companies operate regular ferry services to and from the island and vessels depart so regularly that you won't need to buy a ticket in advance (although in high season doing so is advised). The island's proximity to Ishigaki means that ferries are less susceptible to cancellations than those which connect to other islands in the Yaeyama archipelago. Be sure to confirm the time of the last ferry back to Ishigaki as there's unlikely to be much in the way of vacant accommodation on the island if you miss the last boat.
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