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 prefecture were designated an UNESCO Global Geopark site. This article is about how to access its largest island Dogo and ways to get around on the island.
The Oki Islands, located northwest of Shimane prefecture, are an archipelago consisting of four inhabited islands and numerous deserted islands. Due to its geological features, which reveal the history of the formation of Japanese Islands, and its unique ecosystem, this archipelago was designated an UNESCO Global Geopark site in 2015.
Dogo, the largest among the group of islands, is full of wonderful spots 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.
Access to Oki
The Oki Islands are located northwest of Shimane prefecture. Dogo Island is 241 square kilometers in size, with a population of 15,000 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 at the southern area of Dogo Islands 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 prefecture) and Sakaiminato Port (Tottori prefecture).
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 2920 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 the Shichirui Port and Saigo Port, normally making one round trip a day, and the time is about 70 minutes. The one way fare is about 5760 yen.
So there are three ways to access Dogo: airplane, ferryboat and high-speed vessel. All of them offer early-reservation discounts, so it would be wise to make a booking as soon as your travel plans are set.
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 a.m. and the last bus departs around 6:30 p.m.
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 12,270 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 5000 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 1500 yen and up per day, so riding a bicycle around the town center is an inexpensive way to enjoy the island.
Photograph provided by Oki Islands Tourism Association
The Oki Islands Tourism 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.
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