Japan, Travel

The Goto islands – Paradise in Nagasaki

The Goto Islands are located in the East China Sea, off the eastern coast of Japan’s Kyushu region. From southwest to northeast, they’re known as Fukue, Hisaka, Naru, Wakamatsu, and Nakadori. Fukue, the largest of the islands, is easily accessible by ferry or small plane from Nagasaki and Fukuoka. 

Fukue Island

Fukue island reaches an average temperature of 30 degrees in the Summer months, perfect for swimming in the cool beach waters. Fukue’s best sightseeing spots can be visited within a day, making the perfect weekend getaway or a great addition to your Japan itinerary. 

The island is relatively untouched by tourism and only receives around 60 foreign visitors a month, making it a true off-the-beaten destination in Japan. Accommodation and transportation can be limited on the secluded island, so a rental car or tour guide is essential. Make sure to try all the local dishes such as Goto steak, champon noodles and fresh fish that the island has to offer as you won’t find any Starbucks or Mcdonalds around.

If adventure, unspoiled natural beauty and rich history are pinnacles to your travel itinerary, Fukue island is not to be missed.  Check out our top recommendations on Fukue island below:

Dozaki Church

The Catholic Dozaki church is the first church to be built after the ban on Christianity was lifted in 1873 following the Meiji restoration. Made from red bricks, this western styled church is surrounded by lush greenery and idyllic clear water.

A church standing in the background with a palm tree in the foreground

Dozaki Church frequently holds exhibitions and entrance can be obtained for a reasonable 300 yen.

Old Japanese lady looking through a shop window selling postcards
Friendly local oba-chan selling coffee and crafts at Dozaki Church

Before entering the Church, you’ll find a small coffee stand owned by a cute, kind-hearted Japanese oba-chan. We stopped to have a chat and ended up buying some of her daughter’s brilliant artwork. Be sure to say ‘hi’ if you do go!

Osezaki Lighthouse Lookout

Osezaki cliff and lookout point offer superb views across the ocean and unmanned lighthouse below. If you’re feeling adventurous, trek 45 minutes down to the lighthouse for a magnificent view of the eroding cliffside.

Looking out to the sea where a lighthouse stands on rocky cliffs

We recommend parking as close as you can to minimise walking in the heat and taking a picnic or a couple of beers to enjoy the scenery.

Takahama Beach

Takahama beach is arguably one of the best-unspoiled beaches in Japan. Especially in the summer months, tourists and locals alike enjoy swimming in the crystal clear waters of the bay.

Wide angle shot of beach with clear blue water and surrounding mountains

Drive up and capture the beach in all it’s beauty from the lookout point just up the hill. 

 Secret Spot:  Don-Don Waterfalls

A magnificent spot rarely visited by tourists due to its inaccessibility for buses and larger vehicles. Don-Don waterfalls can be accessed via a small lane (rental cars are capable) plus a short 10-minute hike through a wooded area. 

Rocky waterfall pool with surrounding nature

“Don-Don” is the onomatopoeic sound used by the Japanese to describe the beating of a drum. As the water hits the rocks of the pool, the sound of a drum can be heard and felt!

Mount Onidake (at sunset)

A woman looks out at islands in the sea from a grassy viewpoint
Soaking up the views at Mount Onidake, Goto islands.

End your day with an unforgettable trip to Mt.Onidake. The lookout point on features panoramic views of the island and beyond. Don’t worry, it’s not a difficult climb and only takes around 10 minutes to the view-point. There’s also a free telescope to look into if you want to get a detailed view of Fukue. Onidake is an unusual mountain, covered with lush grass and thriving with all sorts of wildlife – a real must-see when you are in the Goto Islands.

Sticking around Kyushu? You have to read our blog about the amazing volcanic island of Amami!

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