One of the reason I chose to fly with Skymark Airlines to Kobe when positioning to Osaka Kansai airport for the AirAsia X inaugural flight to Honolulu was to try the ferry that operates between the two airports.
Given that both Kobe and Osaka Kansai airports are on man-made islands in the Osaka Bay across from each other, the ferry is the most convenient way to transfer between them. It cuts the travel time from about two hours to about thirty minutes.
Time Table & Fares
The ferry connecting Kobe and Kansai airports runs roughly once per hour starting around 6AM and ending around 11PM. For the exact schedule, see the service’s official website.
A regular one way fare is 1,850 yen (930 yen for children between 6 and 12) while a discounted return fare for return within 30 days is 3,000 yen (1,500 yen).
There is also an ongoing promotion (at least until March 31, 2018) where foreign tourists can buy a one-way ticket for 1,000 yen (500 yen) upon presenting passport.
Getting to Kobe Airport Kaijo Access Terminal
On the Kobe side, the ferry departs from a ferry terminal located about 500 meters from the airport terminal. While it is possible to walk there, there is also a free shuttle bus that operates the two minute route from Kobe airport terminal to the ferry terminal.
To get to the shuttle bus stop, just follow the signs for “Kobe-Kanku BAYSHUTTLE Bus Stop for Kansai Airport.” It is right outside of the terminal on the arrivals level.
The bus runs 2 to 3 times per hour as per the schedule below.
Kobe Airport Kaijo Access Terminal Overview
While the ferry is fairly infrequent and you might end up having to wait for 30 or more minutes before taking it, the ferry terminal provides enough amenities to make the wait comfortable.
To the right of the entrance, there are the ticket counters. Those only need to be used when using credit card. When using cash, you will be asked to use one of the ticket vending machines.
There is also a smokers’ room and rest room.
On the left side, there’s a couple of vending machines, and even a corner where kids can try on ferry captain uniforms to kill time.
The rest of the terminal has plenty of benches, chairs and tables to settle in while waiting for the ferry. There are also counter seats with power, so using your laptop before getting onboard is not a problem either.
Finally, there is an outdoor patio – albeit without any seating – with a nice view of the bay and mainland.
The Kobe-Kansai Bay Shuttle Ferry Ride
I was taking the 6:00PM ferry, and after waiting in the terminal for about half an hour, at 5:55PM – five minutes before departure – the boarding begun.
The door was closed one minute before departure time, and by 6PM, we were moving away from the pier.
Since the ride is so short, the ferry features no amenities except for the seats itself and restrooms. And, there is also a luggage storage area for big suitcases, etc.
The seating is in two cabins – in front of and behind the door – and is in a “2-4-2” configuration.
The ride itself was rather uneventful give that there were no views – except for the bay.
Thirty minutes into the ride, an announcement was made that we would be arriving soon and that there is a shuttle bus from the ferry terminal to the airport. We reached the pier a couple of minutes after that – around 6:35PM.
When I got off the ferry, a bus was already waiting at the end of the pier. From there, it took about five minutes to reach Terminal 1 of Kansai airport.
Is It Worth Taking the Ferry Between Kobe and Osaka Kansai Airports?
If you are one of the rare passengers that happens to have a transfer between Kobe and Kansai airports, this ferry is a no brainer.
The closest alternative to that – except for driving – would be taking a train from Kobe Airport to Kobe city center (Sannomiya) and a bus to Kansai airport from there. That, however, not only takes at least twice as long, but it also costs more.