What’s Okinoerabu island like?

Last Updated on 2021/11/11

Where is Okinoerabu island?

Where is Okinoerabu island? Is there a volcano on the island? Well, people often ask me these questions. Okinoerabu island is the second southernmost of the Amami islands, formed by upheaved coral reef. The island is located 552km south of Kagoshima city and 60km north of the Okinawan mainland. Though it is closer to Okinawa, the island belongs to Kagoshima Prefecture. 

People often confuse it with the volcanic island ‘Kuchinoerabu island’ because of its similar name, but Kuchinoerabu, is positioned 12km west of Yakushima island, and is completely different from Okinoerabu island. 

Okinoerabu island was occupied by two domains, namely the Ryukyu Kingdom, from what is now Okinawa, and the Satsuma clan, from present day Kagoshima, depending on the era. That’s why the island has aspects of their distinctive cultures, which fascinates people! 

You might frequently hear the word, ‘Menshori’ on the island. It means ‘Welcome!’. ‘Mensore’ means welcome in the Okinawan dialect, which reflects the island’s history. Okinoerabu is not a touristy island. If you want to spend a relaxing time in nature, Okinoerabu island is the place to visit.

Erabu Lily & Kasaishi Seaside Park

This is the Erabu Lily, the symbolic flower of Okinoerabu Island. It can be seen at Kasaishi Seaside Park from late April to mid-May.

The symbol of the island is the Erabu lily. You might be mesmerized by its pure white petals and delicate aroma. 

The island is the only habitat of the lily. In 1899, a British trader was impressed with the beautiful lilies blooming throughout the island, and he ordered local people to cultivate them for him. He came back to the island a few years later and bought them at an amazingly high price. The Erabu lily has been cultivated by local people since then, and the graceful, beautiful flower is loved by people beyond the border. 

Kasaishi Seaside Park is located on Okinoerabu Island.

You can see the delicate lilies at Kasaishi Seaside Park from the end of April to the middle of May, when they spread out like a carpet. These pictures were taken after the rain, and the raindrops adds an extra beauty to the flower.

This is the view from the observation tower at Kasaishi Seaside Park on Okinoerabu Island.

The scenery from the observation tower in the park is also excellent! When you go up the stairs to the top, the picturesque view will be a highlight of your stay on the island.

Fucha Beach

It's a place called Futcha in Okinoerabu island. On days with strong winds and high waves, the tide shoots up high from the holes created by wave erosion.

Rugged rocks are ubiquitous on Okinoerabu island and remind us that the island is made of coral reef. The main characteristic of coral is that it is easily eroded by water. 

‘Fucha’ means ‘spout out’ in the Okinawan dialect, and 20m to 70m water spouting from a cavernous hole hollowed out of coral hill looks so dynamic when it’s windy and high tide.

bizarre and zigzag-shaped rocks at Fucha beach in Okinoerabu island

It is so much fun to look into the hole, and so exciting to enjoy the beauty of nature as well as the bizarre and zigzag-shaped rocks and dynamic waves from Fucha!

Cape Tamina

The cliffs of Cape Tamina are a famous tourist attraction in Okinoerabu Island, where the cliffs eroded by rough waves and the blue sea are breathtaking when you look down from the cliffs.

Cape Tamina is a precipitous cliff, and at 51m high, is well known scenic spot that overlooks the great eroded cliff and attractive deep blue sea! 

There was a goat near Cape Tamina in Okinoerabu.

You might see wild sea turtles on a calm day. Unfortunately, the wild sea turtles were absent on the day we visited, but there are some leashed goats on the cape. Wow, are they kept here to look at the amazing view every day? So peaceful!

Koshiyama Park

This is the view from the observatory at Koshiyama Park on Okinoerabu Island. You can enjoy the contrast between the green land of Okinoerabu Island, the red clay fields, and the beautiful blue of the ocean.

The park is 80m above sea level and highest spot in Wadomari town. A splendid and expansive view of the tip of the island is waiting for you! The spiral shell monument is an observation point. Why don’t you enjoy the harmony of the green of the island, the reddish earth of the farms, and the beautiful blue sea from Koshiyama Park?

Saigo Nanshu Museum

The Saigo Nanshu Museum has a replica of a jail from that time. There is a statue of Saigo Takamori inside the jail.

If you a samurai fan, you might know about ‘Saigo Takamori’ known as one of the last influential samurai at the end of the 19th century. He was exiled by his master in Satsuma, now Kagoshima, to Okinoerabu island. It was almost the same as capital punishment at that time. 

His relationship with local people and his one year and 7 months on the island are exhibited at the museum. The jail is reconstructed at the site too. The time he spent in jail was terrible, but his precious time in the island enabled him to reconsider his life. 

After Saigo was permitted to go back to Satsuma, he made great achievements in times of turbulent political change in Japan.

A statue of Saigo Takamori stands at Nanshu Shrine.

Nanshu Shrine was constructed in 1902 and dedicated to his spirit. It is in the vicinity of the museum.

Degidomari Beach

This is the beach at Degimari in Okinoerabu. The sea is crystal clear and very beautiful.
The coast of Degidomari in Okinoerabu is lined with strange, eroded rocks that look like natural works of art.

How do you get travel tips? Well, getting advice from locals might be one good way to find something interesting. Degidomari Beach is recommended by locals but is rarely written about in travel books. The uniquely eroded rocks look like natural art.

Colorfully colored fish swim in the tide pools on the beach of Degidomari in Okinoerabu.

If you look into the seawater, colorful fish might be swimming in the hollowed holes. This is a secret spot to enjoy swimming as well as snorkeling.

Brown Sugar Shochu

Brown Sugar Shochu "Hanatori" made in Okinoerabu island.

One of the most popular souvenirs of Okinoerabu is brown sugar shochu called ‘Kokuto shochu’ which is a distilled alcohol made from brown sugar! It is only allowed to be produced on the Amami islands such as Amami Oshima, Kikai, Tokunoshima, Okinoerabu and Yoron. Don’t you think that trying a local drink is a real pleasure? The recommended brand ‘Hanatori’ is good for anyone, including people who haven’t tried shochu before.

Did this article make you want to go to Okinoerabu island? Traveling nurtures our mind! How about visiting Okinoerabu island to enrich your mind the near future?


Kaori Ashida

Licensed National Guide, Certified General Travel Services Manager, 1st Grade Instructor of Inbound Tourism. 17 years of experience in the tourism industry, including working as a tour guide in Australia and Canada for Japanese tourists. I love traveling, eating, and taking beautiful pictures!
Are you a travel lover? Do you want to try a new experience? If yes, check out my articles for your traveling tips. Other than being a professional and friendly guide, I share travel information about Japan as a freelance writer.

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