Would you like to go hiking, diving, turtle watching, snorkelling, shower climbing, SUP boarding or river kayaking ? Or book an island tour or hike with an English guide? Take a look below at our activity listings and then make use of our free booking service!
If you can't rent a car and don't want to waste precious time waiting for buses then how about booking a full day island tour with an English guide? Learn about the history of the island, the rich culture and what it's like to live on Yakushima. On a full day tour you will be able to do a complete circuit of the island, stopping off at many places of interest on the way. Click here for a typical itinerary. If the weather is bad, tours of the local shochu and mackerel smoking plant can be arranged as well as wood craft making activities. Tour itineraries can be tailor-made to fit your schedule and interests. Contact YES for more details.
Yakushima has some fantastic hikes that cater to all abilities click here for details of YES guided mountain hikes. From relatively easy treks to overnight expedition treks. From deep forest treks to mountain hikes that take you to the vast expanses of open highland above the tree-line. For the adventurous, hiking in the snow is possible from December to late February, but be prepared for dangerous and cold conditions. To help you choose a hike according to your experience then take a look at our hiking section which is divided into easy, moderate and difficult hike sections. If you wish to get the most out of a trek into the interior of Yakushima then a guide is recommended. Not only will they get you back out of the forests safely and on time, but they are a fountain of local knowledge regarding the island's history, culture and natural landscape. Contact YES with your request.
From May 15th to the 31st of July it is possible to attend a nightly sea turtle viewing activity on Inakahama beach in Nagata. Inakahama beach is the prime nesting site on Yakushima with hundreds of turtles visiting every year. During the breeding season the beach is staffed by volunteers from the Umigame NPO and they monitor, tag and record the adut females. At night, the beach is strictly out of bounds to the public, but it is possible to attend a turtle viewing activity that starts at 20:30 every evening. The activity starts with a fascinating talk about the turtles behaviour, breeding cycle and the NPO's activities and then you will be taken onto the beach to watch an adult female in the act of laying her eggs. The turtle viewing needs to be booked in advance. YES run turtle viewing tours to Inakahama, providing you with an English translator and transport to and from your accommodation.
The baby turtles start hatching from late July through to early October. There are no specific guided activities for seeing these as no one can predict when they will hatch, but if you head to a beach early in the morning you will often be able to see babies. YES DO NOT encourage you to go to the beaches at night to watch the baby turtles as they have far too much to worry about through exhaustion and predators. Human presence on the beach only adds to their stress. If you book an YES Island Tour then we are happy to take you to look at the tiny tracks in the sand as one of our stop off destinations on the tour. Contact YES for more details.
The warm water allows corals to flourish and the swift current brings a multitude of sea life including the sea turtles that nest on the island during the summer. There is certainly plenty to see under water. An annual nationwide ocean diversity survey has, on three occasions, found Yakushima to have the greatest variety of marine life in Japan.
There are several Yakushima diving companies on the island which offer a range of diving services catering from 'fun dives' for first timers without a diving license to boat dives for experienced divers. The prime beach dive spots are Isso in the north and Kurio in the south. Expect to pay around 10,000 yen for a half day beach dive including equipment rental. Subsequent dives are charged at a lower rate. If you have a diving qualification make sure to bring your certification. Contact YES to make a booking or find out more.
From mid-June to October a very popular ocean activity is snorkelling. If you go with a guide it will cost around 7000 yen for a half day session and this is by far the best way to make use of a snorkeling trip. The local guide has knowledge of the good snorkeling areas with ample marine life. If you are less keen to see good marine life, but just wish to wander in the sea then you can bring your own snorkel or pick one up on the island for a couple of thousand yen. Anywhere with a rocky shore will have some interesting underwater life to explore. Isso and Kurio are the best places to go. Check out Haruta hama at low tide as it has some beautiful tidal pools that even children or non-swimmers can enjoy with just a pair of goggles, or the rocky shore at Yudomari where you can also relax in the beachside onsen (hot spring bath) after your swim! Contact YES for more details if you'd like to book a snorkel guide.
Shower Climbing & Canyoning
Summer is the season for shower climbing and canyoning ('sawanobori' in Japanese). An invigorating adventure sport that consists of ascending and descending a tributary of a river, including climbing waterfalls, sliding down ravine walls, and swimming through gorges. You will wear special padded wetsuits, life jackets, helmets, and hand and feet protection.
On Yakushima the number of courses is almost limitless as there are rivers and waterfalls everywhere on the island. Children can also enjoy this activity (please contact us directly about age requirements). You will need a trained guide to take part in this activity and the courses chosen are generally less demanding than you might expect. A half day tour will cost around 8,000 yen. Contact YES to make your free booking.
The water is so pure on Yakushima that even the estuaries are crystal clear. It is possible to river kayak all year round and it's a great way to experience the peace and nature of Yakushima. The most popular kayaking river is the Anbo River. (安房). A river kayak trip usually starts from Anbo village and takes you upstream a kilometres or so just past the Matsumine Bridge. Once you reach the bridge then many tours will stop for lunch, a rest or a dip before you paddle leisurely back down towards the sea. The river is wide and calm, meandering slowly between deep-forested valley walls. It is safe and suitable for kayaking novices. Keep your eyes and ears open and you may well spot monkeys feeding in the canopy close to the river or even sea turtles swimming upstream.
River kayaking is also possible along the Miyanoura River (宮之浦), and the Kurio River (栗生). A river kayak tour usually takes up to half a day and the rate is around 8,000 yen. A full day tour rate will be around 15,000 yen and this usually includes a lunch. Look at our Yakushima maps page to locate the kayaking spots. Contact YES for more details.
Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP)
A surf board and a long oar. The idea came from Hawaii. Paddle up and down the river with the added advantage of being able to jump off the board at any time. This saves clambering out of kayak to get into the water. SUP boards recently arrived to Yakushima and have proven to be a popular choice over the last few summers. The main river that has SUP facilites is on the Anbo River (安房). Half day tours are available for around 8,000 yen and full day tours include lunch by the riverbank at around 13,000 yen. Contact YES for more information.
If you come to Yakushima in a group of 3 or more and you'd like a unique experience then consider taking a chartered boat out to sea to catch your dinner! Equipment and bait can be rented and guidance can be given whilst on the boat. The area is reknowed for its game fishing and big catches are possible. Many of the smaller hotels will be willing to cook your catch on your return to the hotel, and some accommodation have barbecue facilities. Experience is not required (although it would help), but a stomach for the sea may be an advantage. A half day chartered fishing boat is 39,000 yen and a full day is 65,000 yen. Equipment rental is 5,000 yen per person. Contact YES for more details.
Due to its mild climate, a Yakushima kayak trip on the sea is a wonderful activity at any time of the year. There are a variety of possible sea kayak tours you can take. Most departure points are either Isso (一奏), Nagata (永田) or Kurio (栗生). Weather conditions and wave height will usually be the deciding factor in where you'll be able to kayak. You can choose from either a full or half-day kayaking experience. YES are currently unable to book sea kayak trips, but we do hope to have this service available in the very near future. Contact YES for more information.
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