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Yes, the Goto Islands are Kid-Friendly!

Perhaps too much is made of the severe beauty of the Goto Islands, the lookouts on the vastness of the East China Sea and the daydreams of Kukai, the deserted villages of Hisaka, the relics of the kakure Christians… Although not many jetting off Yakushima to go snorkeling, or to a pretty little island in Okinawa for fruity drinks and white sand beaches would have had the Goto Islands on their list of possible destinations, there is no shortage of stunning beaches on the islands, and a fruity drink and a reef to snorkel on are not out of the question, either. That raises another question: would it work for kids? Definitely.

  • Yes, the Goto Islands are Kid-Friendly!

    Yes, the Goto Islands are Kid-Friendly!

    Tripping through the Goto Islands, things tend to move at a slightly slower pace than they do in the more popular resort centers. Childlike curiosity is rewarded on these islands that have not yet been fully exploited and flattened by the infrastructure of modern tourism. Sketch a basic itinerary, make sure the kids have got plenty of snacks and a place to crash at the end of the day—and then set them loose. The Seagull Boat that plies the waters between Fukue and Hisaka is a great example: the half-hour or so trip across the strait becomes a voyage on a submarine when kids descend to belly of the ship whose hull has been fitted with windows that give a panoramic view of the undersea world.

    Glass boat seagull
    Address
    Nagasaki Pref. Gotoushi Higashihamamachi
    Phone
    0959730003
  • Yes, the Goto Islands are Kid-Friendly!

    Yes, the Goto Islands are Kid-Friendly!

    The beaches of the Goto Islands cannot be oversold. Fukue’s Takahama Beach, in particular, is probably one of the finest in Japan, and has the benefit of not being choked with sunbathers, snowbirds, and oiled-up suburbanites. In recent years, the beach has been discovered by some from beyond the Goto Islands and the prefectures of Kyushu, but it remains fairly placid except for a few weeks in July and August. For older kids, there are plenty of activities, and beachside snacks to munch on.

    Yes, the Goto Islands are Kid-Friendly!

    Yes, the Goto Islands are Kid-Friendly!

    The larger beaches on Fukue are ideal, if you’ve got the kids in tow, and they’re set up for parents; there are showers and public bathrooms, but also a decent selection of food, and inflatables to rent. After Takahama, most would recommend Kojushi Beach Resort, up the coast from the port at Tomie.

    Takahama beaches
    Address
    Nagasaki Pref. Gotoushi Mirakumachikaitsu 1054-1
    Phone
    0959843163
    Uodu ke Saki Park
    Address
    Nagasaki Pref. Gotoushi Kishikumachikishiku 1218-1
    Phone
    0959722963
  • Yes, the Goto Islands are Kid-Friendly!

    Yes, the Goto Islands are Kid-Friendly!

    Not far from Takahama, Tontomari Beach, although not too far off the beaten track, remains fairly quiet, even in the high season. The beach lacks some of the extras of Takahama, but if you’ve ever wanted a private beach, this is the place to come. The shallow waters make it the ideal place to let younger kids wade and play in the sand.

    頓泊海水浴場
    Address
    長崎県五島市玉之浦町
    Phone
    0959872211
  • Yes, the Goto Islands are Kid-Friendly!

    Yes, the Goto Islands are Kid-Friendly!

    Shiraragahama on the north shore of Fukue boasts its own beach resort, just off the main island road loop, but for those touring around the island, its playground makes a great place to pull over and let the kids burn off some energy before getting back in the car. There’s also a model of one of the kentoshi envoy ships that stopped off in the Goto Islands before heading west to China, an easy prompt for a quick history lesson.

    白良ヶ浜万葉公園
    Address
    長崎県五島市三井楽町濱ノ畔
    Phone
    0959843111
  • Yes, the Goto Islands are Kid-Friendly!

    Yes, the Goto Islands are Kid-Friendly!

    There are plenty of places around to distract kids—but an authentic experience, smelling, tasting and feeling the world around them? That’s how memories are made and life lessons are learned. Take the kankoro mochi workshop run by a nonprofit in the Shinkamigoto port of Arikawa, out of a venue attached to the ferry terminal. Kids can take a turn pounding the sun-dried sweet potato and glutinous rice, mould the sticky paste into cakes, and produce their own mochi, all under the watchful eyes of local grandmothers.

    Goto Udon No Sato
    Address
    Nagasaki Minamimatsuura Shinkamigotocho Arikawago 428-31
    Phone
    0959422655
  • Yes, the Goto Islands are Kid-Friendly!

    Yes, the Goto Islands are Kid-Friendly!

    Another option in Shinkamigoto is Kurashi no Gakko “En.” When Takashi Ono came across an uninhabited village on Nakadori Island, he knew it was the perfect spot to set up a “living school.” Kurashi no Gakko “En” functions as a sort of experiential classroom, preserving the landscape and local culture for visitors to experience. Local products like sea salt and tofu are produced, and vegetables are cultivated—everything kept the same as it would have been a century before. Kurashi no Gakko runs various programs, but the spirit of the place is freewheeling, so a visit can be arranged. If that sounds like a tough sell for the kids… tell them they might be able to ride the ponies.

    Address
    長崎県南松浦郡新上五島町小串郷40
    Phone
    0959552707
  • Yes, the Goto Islands are Kid-Friendly!

    Yes, the Goto Islands are Kid-Friendly!

    There are definitely kid-friendly places to stay on the islands, these days, ranging from beachside hotels to AirBnBs, but it would be a shame not to spend a night at one of the islands’ campgrounds. Fukue’s Gyougasaki Park is a solid option, and gives overnighters the option of staying in a private cabin. For kids of all ages, there are plenty of memories to be made on the islands and a bit of pre-planning will ensure a smooth visit.

    Gyogasaki Park Campground
    Address
    Nagasaki Pref. Goto City Kishikumachi-kishiku1218-1
    Phone
    0959821111
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