The Oki Islands are located 50 km off the coast of Shimane Peninsula. They can be accessed by ferry or fast ferry from the two mainland ports Sakaiminato (Tottori) or Shichirui (Shimane), or by plane from Izumo Airport or Itami (Osaka) Airport. If you take the time to travel to Shimane, make sure you allow a few days to explore the Oki Islands Geopark.
Have you heard of the geopark network? UNESCO defines a geopark as “A territory encompassing one or more sites of scientific importance, not only for geological reasons but also by virtue of its archaeological, ecological or cultural value”. There are currently 25 Japanese geoparks, and five of these are listed as Global Geoparks. The Oki Islands achieved global geopark status in 2013. http://www.globalgeopark.org/
Many dedicated people have been spreading the word about the mysteries and special features of these islands for many years, long before the geopark project began. There are many local people who are proud of their hometown, and while being a bit shy, are very keen to share this special place with people who make the effort to travel to Oki. Here in Oki you can experience firsthand the connections between the land, ecosystem and the history, culture and way of life of the people. http://www.oki-geopark.jp/
The best place to start your adventure in the Oki Islands is to take the ferry to Dogo (the largest island) and visit the Oki Nature Museum, where they have a lot of information and displays about what you can see in these unique islands. From here rent a car and discover the island, making sure to stop off and explore some of the amazing coastal scenery, interesting-shaped rocks, shrines (there are over 100 of these in Oki!), temples, walk around the small communities…there is so much you can see and do in Oki.
If you have a valid driver’s license, I recommend that you rent a car and drive around the islands. Dogo, Nishinoshima and Nakanoshima also have bicycles for hire, and if you like doing some exercise while exploring then this could be a good option. There are also local buses, but these are quite infrequent.
Oki has a lot of “geo” attractions, such as sampling local food, sea kayaking around the coast, hiking in the mountains, taking part in local festivals, swimming in the clear blue sea, snorkeling, diving…and if you like geology and want to learn more about how the Oki Islands were created and what makes them a worthy global geopark, grab a geo-map and check out the many geo-sites around the islands. There are signboards in English and Japanese that provide you with lots of good information about the land, ecosystem and the way of like in Oki.
For further information about what to do in Oki, take a look at the Nishinoshima Tourism Association page www.nkk-oki.com and if you can read Japanese then take a look at the Oki Tourism Association page http://e-oki.net/ and discover these “treasure islands”.