Kume-jima probably ranks as our #1 trip among the outer islands of Okinawa (so far). Honestly, it was a combination of things, but it was a pretty great trip away from the hustle and bustle of life.
There are 2 ways of getting to Kume-jima: 4 hour ferry ride or 35 minute plane ride. Not going to lie… take the plane, it is so much better. It was about 150$ roundtrip, so yes, it is more expensive, but it is a very short ride. The ferry is cheaper by half, but over 4x the travel time. So… for me, no questions.
After a short plane ride, we arrived and rented a car. There is a tourist map, which points out the major sites; these can be done in a day, but take it slow and enjoy. It is a beautiful island. Some of the sights may not be terribly interesting, but just enjoy the raw beauty of this island. There are some magnificent views and crystal clear water. Check out the tatami rocks that make an interesting pattern on the beach, and look for some sea turtles. Maybe check out the local awamori distillery.
We coincided our trip with the season of ホタル or 蛍, pronounced hotaru meaning “firefly” (month of May). Okay, yes, I planned my entire trip around fireflies! But Kume-jima is home to rare and special fireflies, so it very much worth it! As matter of fact, the mascot for Kume-jima is a firefly! Be sure to visit the firefly museum during the day, and then the park areas (close to water) in the evening when the magical little fireflies come out. It is really special to experience this sort of beauty, once the sun sets and they start flitting about with bursts of light. Also, the guy at the museum is an alumni of Ryukyu Daigaku and speaks some English, so please visit him! He will tell you many interesting facts and explain why fireflies here in Kume-jima are special.
We stayed at Eef Beach Hotel, and while not grand by any means, it was comfortable and close to restaurants, as well as a nice beach to stroll around. There is a supposedly nicer hotel on the airport side of the island, but we chose quaintness over luxury.
For food, well, you better like either shrimp or local Okinawa grub because there is not much else. Kume-jima is known for 海老 (えび or エビ “ebi”), meaning shrimp. It is fresh! My husband ate shrimp for both lunches and dinner we were on the island. You can get it a number of ways; grilled, battered and fried in tempura, cooked in butter… it is a popular food here, so it is highly recommended you try it. Some of the restaurants have English menus and some do not, so take a chance and just stop in, order whatever is recommended that day. Preferably shrimp. I will post some addresses of the best meals we had later.