A long, narrow island about 20km northeast of Yakushima, Tanegashima (種子島) is a laid-back destination popular with Japanese surfers and beach lovers. Home to Japan's Space Centre, Tanegashima was where firearms were first introduced to Japan by shipwrecked Portuguese in 1543. Although good ferry connections make this island easy to pair with a trip to Yakushima, it's often overlooked by time-poor visitors making a beeline for the 'main event'.
The island's main port of Nishi-no-Omote (西之表) is on the northwest coast of the island, while the airport is about halfway down the island near the west coast. The best beaches and most of the surf breaks are on the east coast of the island, which is also home to an onsen.