Day 2-14 Exploring
- 13 Breakfasts, 13 Lunches, 13 Dinners
em>Your Captain and Expedition Team may make changes to the daily schedule when necessary to maximise guest experience. Below are the highlight destinations of your voyage.
Shimokoshiki Jima is a top geological site with large scenic cliffs along with dinosaur fossils at sites located across the island. Have the opportunity to explore around Napoleon Rock and cruise around Kashima Cliffs. Spend time at the Satsumasendai Fossil Exhibition. Learn about the history of Shimokoshiki while walking along Old Samurai Street, and perhaps hear songs played on the unusual traditional instrument called a”Gottan”.
Iojima & Kuroshima Islands
Iojima is an incredibly unique volcanic island, known as the “Sulfur Island”. In the 10th to 13th centuries, this island was used as a hub for Japan-China foreign trade. Interestingly a lot of the villagers play the African djembe drum after a world-famous djembe player Mamade Keita from Guinea began teaching on the island. At Iojima enjoy soaking in an Onsen, or hot springs, at either Higashi, or Ana-no-ham and Utan which reside by the sea creating a scenic atmosphere for your relaxation. We may also take a walking track through the Bamboo and Moss forest to Shunkan shrine. Keep your eyes peeled for the symbol of Iojima – the White Peacock.
Kuroshima is the most remote and the oldest of the three-island Village of Mishima (Takeshima, Iojima and Kuroshima) and is lush with forests, waterfalls and rainfall. Cruising along Kuroshima Island’s coastline, you will see dramatic cliffs dropping 50 metres down with small waterfalls everywhere, along with Whiotebana white cliffs from salt erosion of soft volcanic pumice rock. Admire the long-held practice of Hanaui textile weaving which the Okinawa Islands are well-known for and take a guided tour and tasting of Mishima Shouchuu Distillery, where liquor is made using traditional distilling processes from sweet potatoes and mountain water. We might also take a short hike up 622 metre tall Mount Yagura for views over the water. For those interested in World War history, we may visit Peace Park (Heiwa Kouen) dedicated to retreating Japanese soldiers who crash-landed in a sinking boat on the island during the Pacific War.
Walkthrough UNESCO-listed thousand-year-old cedar forests and view a 25 metre tall giant cedar tree estimated to be up to 7,200 years old at Yakusugi Land. With a number of walking trails on the island, we may visit some of the many waterfalls as well. The Yakusugi Museum displays the ecology, history and industry of the forests on Yakushima Island. Here you can learn about the Yakushima cedar trees, the products that come from them and how they were harvested.
Tokara Island Group
Suwanosejima, one of the Tokara Islands, has a population of about 70 people. We may visit or cruise past and admire the plumes of ash from the active volcano.
Nakanoshima is the biggest island in the Tokara island group. With an interesting landscape, the island’s nature is a highlight: mountains, black cows, tokara horses, tokara goats, various plant life, coral and a beautiful blue sea. At the historical museum, you can learn about Tokara islands history, nature, culture and lifestyle.
Kayak through the large mangrove forests at the central east coast of the island. While on the island, keep your eyes open for many endangered and threatened bird species including the prefectural bird, Lidth’s Jay, a bird with blue and red plumage. At Kinsakubaru Virgin Forest, flying spider-monkey tree ferns tower overhead like giant parasols and broad-leaf elephant ear plants, the inspiration for the leaf-umbrella carried by Totoro in the movie My Neighbor Totoro, can be found. The species of flying spider-monkey tree ferns have retained the same form from 300 million years ago. Look for the endangered Amami black rabbit – one of the most primitive species of rabbit alive today. While Amami Oshima has a rich ecosystem on land, its underwater ecosystem is equally diverse. The Kuroshio Current brings warm tropical water from the south, sustaining the world’s northernmost coral reefs.
Okinoerabu which is called the ‘Island of Flowers and Limestone Caves’ is a beautiful and peaceful island. Over 300 limestone caves can be found here. Visitors to these ancient caves discover the natural beauty and mysteries which have spawned many of the legends and stories surrounding these natural treasures. Deep blue waters, coral reefs and pristine beaches meet an iconic limestone cave system on this southerly Japanese island. It is home to over 300 limestone caves. Spot turtles, sea snakes, sea cucumbers, star fish, octopus, stingrays and reef sharks in the island’s blue waters alongside numerous species of coral. There is the opportunity to visit the Fucha cliffs off the coast of the island, Tamina Misaki Cape and Shoryudo Caven.
Okinawa (North & South)
Okinawa is a Japanese prefecture comprising more than 150 islands in the East China Sea between Taiwan and Japan’s mainland. It’s known for its tropical climate, broad beaches and coral reefs as well as World War II sites. A well-kept local secret, Hiji Falls is not one of Okinawa’s easiest sites to access, but the stunning sights it offers are well worth the effort. Cross the beautiful wooden suspension bridge over a green valley and discover the local wildlife that call the trail home. Later, try your hand at glass making and glass blowing, creating a piece in vibrant colours that reflect Okinawa’s ocean blues and greens and sunrise oranges and yellows. Learn to play Okinawan music on a Sanshin instrument which is traditionally covered in snakeskin and has been integral to Ryukyu culture for around 600 years.
Look for some of the more than 200 bird species sighted on Aguni Island while admiring traditional homes surrounded by limestone walls amidst a unique landscape formed by volcanic activity millions of years ago.
Kerama Island Group: Geruma Island & Aka Island
The clarity of the water in the ocean here is world-class, and the colour of the ocean is known as ‘Kerama blue’. Various tropical fish swim between colourful coral reefs. The underwater scenery is spectacular and lures scuba divers from around the world, though is equally appealing for snorkellers. Visit the observatories on Tokashiki Island, Zamami Island, Aka Island, and Geruma Island to enjoy magnificent views. Swim, snorkel, scuba dive and kayak from the pristine beaches of largely undeveloped islands that receive few visitors. Where a translucent aquamarine sea is populated with tropical fish and turtles with vividly coloured coral reefs and deep drop-offs favoured by scuba divers.
On Iriomotoe Island, the second largest island in Okinawa, take an island-hopping adventure in a buffalo-drawn cart across a shallow sandy strait as the driver sings traditional songs accompanied by a three-stringed banjo-like Sanshin musical instrument. Look for the almost extinct Iromote Yamaneko, a type of wildcat found nowhere else.
Admire the star-filled night sky with the benefit of little light pollution from the Astronomical observation tower on Hateruma Island. Hateruma is the southernmost inhabited island of Japan. The name Hateruma Island is said to be the etymology of ‘the island of the uruma (coral reef) on the edge’.
Discover the submerged stone structures of what’s thought to be an ancient underwater city sunk by an earthquake approx. 2,000 years ago just off the coast of Yonaguni Jima.