The beautiful snail-shaped island of Yoron-jima is very close to Okinawa but in fact belongs to Kagoshima prefecture and lies just 25km north of Japan’s hottest climate area. Back in October 2004 (12th-15th) I visited the island via transit in Naha for a few days. Overall, it was a three hour flight including the 40 minute journey between islands.
We stayed at the Pricia Resort Hotel which is located near the airport (airfield runway!) on the snails head part of the island in the north-west (or the bottom left corner of my scanned postcard above left).
This isle first came to my attention having read a little about it towards the end of Josie Dew’s sizeable book ‘A Ride In The Neon Sun: A Gaijin In Japan‘ which detailed her travels by bicycle around Japan. She ended up sleeping in the shower as Typhoon Doug caused havoc on the island! Cycling seems to be the best way to get round the island as my girlfriend-of-the-time and I ended up hiring bicycles from our hotel every single day!
On day one we rode around for a couple of hours stopping at some place to do a bit of snorkelling and visited Yoron’s main town Chabana which is basically just a street! Can’t remember too much else other than having a hot spa outside the hotel on its privately owned beach. A spicy meal in the resort’s restaurant followed after that.
I recall my other half (of the time) going diving which I couldn’t do due to my asthma so I got on my bike again and circled the island as closely as possible. I went snorkelling three times in the beautiful, clear, tropical turquoise waters but the marine breezes were a little stronger than I had anticipated even though it actually was mid-October. Yoron’s beaches possess soft white sands and are genuinely stunning.
Meeting up back at the resort hotel later on, we played tennis and went for a hot spa. Our third and final day was probably the most exciting for me as we went over to the star-shaped sand island of Yurigahama (above right) on the east coast. To get to the tiny sand isle we had to take a thrilling jet-ski ride there and back with some time in between to snorkel offshore at some deeper reefs. I managed to top up my sunburn from the previous day! The sand island only emerges at low tide and was quite a popular draw but I’m only talking a dozen or so people and not the kind of crowds Japanese places often suffer from.
There is a small heritage centre on Yoron where you can look around the traditional wooden huts and see a machine which was used back in the day for pressing sugar cane by hand. This crop tends to dominate most of the island.