Translated by Shinji Takaramura
Visit The Oki Islands In Shimane - A UNESCO Global Geopark Site
Written by Maki
In 2015, the Oki Islands in Shimane were registered as a UNESCO Global Geopark. This article introduces the ways to reach Dogo, the largest island in the Oki archipelago, as well as the best ways to get around the island.
The Oki Islands, located in Shimane prefecture, are an archipelago consisting of four inhabited islands and numerous deserted islands. Due to its unique ecosystem and geological features, which reveal insights about the geological formation of the Japanese Islands, this archipelago was registered as a UNESCO Global Geopark site in 2015.
Dogo, the largest among the group of islands, is full of wonderful destinations to visit - from natural scenery to historic places. This article is about how to access Dogo from the mainland and about the transportation on the island.
How To Travel to the Oki Islands
The Oki Islands are located in the northwest of Shimane prefecture. Dogo Island is 241 square kilometers in size, with a population of 14,000 people. The island used to be at the bottom of the ocean and rose to the surface due to volcanic activities. The natural history of the island is reflected in its geological features and ecosystem.
There are no bridges or tunnels to Dogo, so the access is limited to either planes or vessels.
Direct Flights from Osaka and Shimane
Oki Islands Global Geopark Airport (Oki Airport) is located in the southern area of Dogo Island at the tip of a cape, about 5 kilometers from the Saigo district, where most of the lodging facilities are.
There are direct flights to Oki Airport from Osaka Itami Airport and Shimane Izumo Airport.
The flight time and the usual fares are as listed below. There are discounts for early reservations as well as round-trip reservations.
Direct Flight from Osaka Itami Airport
Number of Flights: Once a day
Flight Time: About 60 minutes
Fare: Approximately 25,000 yen (one way)
Direct Flight from Izumo Airport
Number of Flights: Once a day
Flight Time: About 30 minutes
Fare: Approximately 14,000 yen (one way)
From Haneda Airport (via Izumo Airport)
Number of Flights: Once a day
Flight Time: About 90 minutes
Fare: Approximately 60,000 yen (one way)
From Fukuoka Airport (via Izumo Airport)
Number of Flights: One flight/day
Flight Time: About 65 minutes.
Fare: Approximately 42,000 yen (one way)
From the Kansai Region, using the direct flight from Itami Airport would be the easiest way to go. For those departing from other regions, the best route would be to fly to either Itami or Izumo Airport and switch planes.
If you want to save transportation costs, the ferryboat or high-speed vessel is another option.
From Shimane and Tottori: Access by Ship
The ferryboats and high-speed vessels to Oki Islands depart from Shichirui Port (Shimane) and Sakaiminato Port (Tottori).
There is a shuttle bus service to Shichirui Port from Izumo Airport and Matsue Station (JR West). Sakaiminato Port can be reached by bus from Yonago Airport, or by walking from Sakaiminato Station (JR West).
There are ports on all the four inhabited islands of Oki. The largest is the Saigo Port on Dogo Island. The ships will also stop by the Kurii, Hishiura, and Beppu Ports located in the Dozen area, which consists of the other three inhabited islands.
The ferryboat, which connects the Saigo Port and the mainland, makes three trips a day. The ride takes about two and a half hours minimum, and the one way fare is from about 3,300 yen and up. Please note that the traveling time will differ according to the number of stops.
The high-speed vessel will take much less time than the ferryboat. It connects Shichirui Port or Sakaiminato Port to Oki's Saigo Port. This ship usually makes two round trips a day, and a ride takes about 70 minutes. The one way fare is 6,280 yen.
So there are three ways to access Dogo: airplane, ferryboat, and high-speed vessel. If you travel by air, make sure to book your ticket as early as possible in order to benefit from discounted fares.
Transportation on Dogo Island
A local bus service is operated by Ichibata Kotsu, but the number of buses are few, and they run mainly on the major roads.
Those who want to visit the various sightseeing spots should participate in a package tour. The tours sponsored by travel agencies will visit the sightseeing spots using a chartered bus, so this is recommended for those who want to check out the famous spots.
The first local Ichibata Kotsu bus departs around 7:00 AM and the last bus departs around 18:30.
The fare, which the passengers pay when they get off the bus, ranges from 200 yen to 500 yen, depending on the distance between bus stops.
There are taxis in the center of the town and near the airport as well. A sightseeing taxi service is available, where a chartered taxi will take the passengers to the tourist spots. The fare for two hours is 13,000 yen and up, so if you're visiting with a group, using this service would be an easy way to tour the sightseeing spots.
Our recommendation is to use a rental car. Most of the sightseeing spots are near the paved roads, so even a subcompact car can easily access them.
The rental fare is about 5,000 yen per day, so it is a reasonable solution for sightseeing.
If you plan to use a rental car, be sure to obtain an international driving license and to bring your own license as well.
If you feel fit enough, renting a bicycle is another option. Okinoshima Town Tourist Association has a wide variety of bicycles such as power-assisted bikes, cross bikes and collapsible bikes, along with the ordinary type. The fare is 500 yen/3 hours so riding a bicycle around the town center is an inexpensive way to enjoy the island.
Enjoy Your Trip to the Oki Islands!
Picture courtesy of Okinoshima Town Tourist Association
The Okinoshima Town Tourist Association operates an information center on the first floor of the Port Plaza, which is connected to Saigo Port. There are pamphlets in English and other languages, so if you're looking for further information about sightseeing spots and transportation, this is the place to go.
Dogo Island has a unique environment and culture, due to its isolated location. This nature-rich island chain offers a wide variety of interesting spots and is surely worth a visit.