There are three options to arrive in Yakushima by boat (there’s also the option to reach the island by plane):
- Toppy & Rocket (High-speed boat)
- One way: 9200 ¥
- Return trip: 16600 ¥
- Duration: 3h
- Departure: Kagoshima High-speed boat Terminal (Kousokusen) located 700m north from the ferry terminal)
- Arrives at Miyanoura or Anbo, depending on the schedule
- There are 6 boats daily, each way. It’s a passenger boat.
- Ferry Yakushima 2
- One way: 6100 ¥
- Return trip: 11000 ¥
- Duration: 4h
- Departure: Kagoshima Ferry Terminal (Minamifuto)
- Arrives at Miyanoura Port
- There is only one boat daily, each way.
- Ferry Hibiscus (slow ferry)
- One way: 3900 ¥
- Return trip: 7800 ¥
- Duration: 13h to Yakushima (overnight trip) but the return trip takes 6.5h (it departures from Yakushima in the morning)
- Departure: Taniyama Port
- Arrives at Miyanoura Port (Yakushima)
- There is only one boat a day, each way.
- It’s a cargo boat, very basic, no seats, with some room for passengers.
- To Yakushima it’s an overnight trip and it stops at Tanegashima island for cargo operation);
- During the stop at Tanegashima Island, the passengers to Yakushima can’t leave the boat… I mean, they can but can’t board again with the same ticket!!
Ferry Hibiscus Schedule:
- departure 18:00 from Kagoshima and arrives at Yakushima at 7:00
- departure 7:00 from Yakushima and arrives at Kagoshima at 14:40
My choice was for the “super slow” Ferry Hibiscus, as it allow me to save one night in accommodation sleeping in the boat, at as it arrives early morning I could start to explore the island in the same day that I arrive, with time enough to drop my stuff at the guesthouse (I choose to stay in Miyanoura as it is more convenient in terms of accessibilities).
How to reach the Ferry Hibiscus harbor (Taniymakou):
But the Hibiscus ferry as one disadvantage as its departure from a harbor 13 km south from Kagoshima, and also far from the nearby trains line (Ibusukimakurazaki Line). But from Kagoshima-Chuo, there’s a direct bus to Taniyama Port:
- The bus doesn’t have a number, and just make this route 3 times a day.
- The most convenient time is the 15:48 (and also the last bus of the day), and it arrives at the harbor around 16:34… just on time for you to get the ticket and board in the ferry; the boarding start at 17:00.
- This bus stop at the bus station nearby Kagoshima-Chuo, from the East side, at stop number 16 (East 16); it’s easy to identify the bus stop, but don’t expect to find information in western characters. When I took this bus it arrived 2 minutes later than scheduled and didn’t stop more than one minute, as there wasn’t another passenger to board.
- The bus trip costs 380 ¥, one way; you pay on board at the end of the trip; the Taniyama Port is the last stop.
The Hibiscus Ferry doesn’t have the usual passenger seats; instead, there are a few rooms, with a kind of carpeted platform where you can lay down. Blankets and pillows are provided. Maybe at first glance, it looks a bit basic, but the conditions are good enough for a good night of sleep… maybe disturbed by the cargo activity on the ship basement. The toilets are reasonably clean with toilet paper and soap. It’s a nice and easy trip!!!!
Hibiscus ferry from Yakushima to Kagoshima:
- The ferry arrives at Kagoshima at 14:40
- The bus leaves Taniyama Port (aka Taniyamakou) at 15:16 and arrives at Kagoshima-Chuo at 16:02…. with a bit of delay due to the traffic.
At Kagoshima-Chuo (Shinkansen train station) there’s an information desk that can provide all the information and point the right way to find the bus to Taniyama Port. They can also give you pamphlets of the island with maps.
There’s no need to reserve a ticket for the Hibiscus ferry (neither for the Yakushima 2), as there are less than a dozen passengers on each trip… once I did the trip alone from Yakushima to Tanegashima!!!
Be prepared with food for the trip. Inside the boat, there only machines selling instant noodles and drinks. At Taniyama Port you fins more or less the same options.
So it’s better to buy food in Kagoshima before taking the bus. There’s a FamilyMart just outside the train station (East side) and another one crossing the road.
At Kagoshima-Chuo station there are a few restaurants for several budgets.
It’s also good to get cash before the trip, as in Yakushima the only ATMs are in the post office spread along the island, but they charge 220 ¥ commission for each withdraws.
Things to know when you arrive at Yakushima:
- The tourist information in Miyanoura, that you gonna find on the right side of the road when you leave from the harbor, has the door closed with a sign “closed today”; go around the building (along the left side), as the main door is the opposite side; the Information office is open from 9 am until 5 pm, everyday. Here you can get the maps of the trails, the bus schedule as also the Kotsu Bus Pass.
- Kotsu Bus
Pass: the bus is the only way to move around Yakushima, but this service é scarce,
with several places having only two buses a day. Apart from that, the bus is
expensive, as a trip around the island (from Okonotaki to Miyanoura) costs 1900
¥. So it’s better to get the bus Kotsu Pass, that allows an unlimited number of
trip, with several options:
- 1 day: 2000 ¥
- 3 day: 3000 ¥
- 4 day: 4000 ¥
- You can get the Kotsu Bus Pass at the Information office of Miyanoura, Ambo Port and the Airport; at Miyanoura, the Yakushima Visitor Center (a kind of souvenir shop located on the left side of the main road, about 100m further from the Information Center, but this shop opens earlier, at 8 am) and also at the Youth Hostel.
- There are two big supermarkets at Miyanoura, and they are open from 9 am until 10 pm; there you can find ready-made meals for taking away.
Where to sleep in Yakushima:
I choose to stay at Miyanoura. It’s not a charming place but it very close to the harbor, which reveals convenient when arriving and departures as you don’t need to de dependent on the buses. Miyanoura, wherever you stay, it’s a walking distance from the harbor.
I stayed at Sudomari Minshuku Friend, It’s a local guesthouse, with traditional Japanese shared rooms, some with beds others with tatamis. Quiet and homy place. Laundry is for free and you can use the kitchen. The manager is very friendly but doesn’t speak much English, so you can’t count much on him to get help with how to move around. It’s continentally located just in front of one Kotsu bus stops and it’s about 1.2km from the Hibiscus Ferry port. 3300 ¥ a night.