Friends of mine had been to Yoron, and I had seen pictures, but I had no idea that my 2-hour ferry ride would drop me off onto one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Because Yoron was created from a coral reef and is surrounded by a coral reef, the colors of the ocean are unlike any other place I have ever seen. Actually, before Coronavirus devastated the world, I had been able to visit the Maldives, and the water there is pretty incredible, and I’m comparing the water around Yoron to be as beautiful as the water around the Maldives. It is THAT magnificent.
Getting There: Much like many experiences that I have had in Japan, it’s not super simple to get somewhere. We have a language barrier, and sometimes we have access to book on websites. Other times, we have to do it the old-fashioned-way; we have to actually call to book travel. Well, with our ferry to Yoron, it took an extra step. I had to make the drive up to the Motobu Port to book our ferry travel face-face-face with a real human. Imagine that – interacting with a real customer service person face-to-face??? The ferries that run to Yoron are run by 2 different companies, so you have to ensure that you are booking with the ferry company that is transporting you and your car on the right day. I imagine you are now asking: do I really need my car? The answer is YES! If you want to experience all the beautiful beaches, and you want to see the island, you will want your car, and it is worth the effort! Back to booking…not only did I make the drive to Motobu to book our ferry, I made sure to go during the timeframe that a ferry would be departing. The ferries don’t staff their desks all day long, so it’s important to go when you know someone is working. When I made my reservation, I took my car’s paperwork, told them that my dog would be traveling with me, requested my dates of travel, and the Japanese lady was super helpful and patient with me. I am in her country, and I don’t speak her language; yet, she smiles, nods, and uses Google Translate with me. She made it so simple. I didn’t get a receipt or any proof that I had made a reservation, so I left and just hoped it would work out. Kind of like everything around here, somehow, it just works out. The morning of our departure, we had no problems checking in, and we were ready for our adventure.
The Dog: Gus had the time of his life, so if he was a little uncomfortable getting there, it was worth it. Note: I think he was actually VERY comfortable getting there, so I would take him again and again. We have taken Gus to IE, Iyeha, and Izena. Each of those smaller ferries have outdoor seating, and they allow you to take your furry friend up to the deck to enjoy the fresh air and the ferry ride to the islands. Yoron’s ferries are much bigger, and there is no designated outdoor seating, so you must either crate your pet, and he/she gets taken away to cargo, or he can stay in the car. I have slept in my car on ferry rides to other places, so I assumed that I could just stay with Gus in the car. We were not putting this big boy in a crate. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t allow me to stay in the car. Gus would be all alone in our car, and this was unexpected so a little upsetting. Fortunately, it was cool and comfortable down there, and Gus had his bed, pillow, and water, so he was set up perfectly for a 2-hour nap. He did great, and I did great on the return trip because I knew what to expect.
The AirBnB: I have been eyeing this AirBnB for well over a year, so I knew exactly where I wanted to stay. I was also taking my 90 pound dog, so the fact that this place took my dog made it perfect for our family, but there are other lodging options so peek around and find something perfect for you. We did a lot of cooking, and our kitchen was equipped with everything we needed. The living area was spacious and super comfortable, but the reality is: we stayed there for the views. The views from the living room and bedrooms took my breath away. Our place had water access, but I would not call it beach access. We snorkeled from our place, but when it was beach-time, we either drove or walked to the beaches. Here is a link to the AirBnB that we chose: 与論島 百合ヶ浜すぐ近く 最高のロケーションの一棟貸ヴィラ あぐんちゃヴィラ与論島 – Houses for Rent in Yoron, Ōshima-gun, Kagoshima, Japan (airbnb.com)
More Than Just Beaches: We went to Yoron to sit on the beach, to relax, to play with our dog, and to enjoy the water. Mother Nature had a different vacation plan for us. With a typhoon lingering south east of Yoron for a few days, we got some outer-band wind and rain that made beach time impossible. What this forced us to do was to go to a museum, go to a cultural center, go to a cave, go actually see Yoron, so we spent Wednesday in the water, Thursday and Friday learning and enjoying various aspects of the island, Saturday beach combing, and by Sunday, we finally got our toes-in-the-sand-beach weather. It was fabulous. I like this link because it shows you a map where everything is located. We just showed up with yen and explored. We didn’t make reservations for anything on the island, and we were some of the only tourists on the island so we had each place to ourselves. Kagoshima Yoron JAPAN (yorontou.info)
How to Pay: I didn’t keep up with prices of anything, but what I can share is: we used yen for access to the Cultural Village, the museum, and the cave. We used a credit card for our AirBnB (obviously), our ferry, and our groceries. Due to military restrictions, restaurants and bars were off limits, but there are a lot of them, and I would bet they only take yen. There were a few souvenir shops, and I would bet they also only take yen, so the point is: bring yen. There were multiped grocery stores on the island, and like I said, a lot of restaurants with outdoor dining, so you don’t need to take a lot of your own food.
This 2 1/2 hour ferry ride took us to a different world. We have had the opportunity to leave the island to other small islands north of Okinawa over the past 16 months, but this felt very different. It felt like we were on vacation. My husband hasn’t taken leave “vacation day” since Christmas 2019, so we needed a vacation! It is a place I would visit again, and it even has a marathon, so I will be keeping my eye on it for next March. If you’re able to make the trip, I would encourage you to go enjoy the island. Happy Traveling…