Ishigaki Island (石垣島, Ishigakijima) is the main island of the Yaeyama Islands and the region's transportation hub. Ishigaki City, Japan's southernmost city, is the only urban center of the Yaeyama Islands and the site of the region's major airport and ferry terminal, as well as of lots of hotels, shops, restaurants and bars.
Ishigaki offers several nice beaches and good snorkeling and diving in the surrounding coral reefs. Snorkeling can be enjoyed at nearly every beach on the island, while diving is offered through the numerous dive shops with tours available for all experience levels. If diving, be sure to check out the island's famed manta rays which congregate in large numbers around Manta Scramble near Kabira Bay.
Ishigaki's rivers, while not quite as wild as those of nearby Iriomote, also offer a jungle like scenery and are nice to explore by kayak. Ishigaki also has the highest mountain in Okinawa Prefecture, as well as various hiking trails throughout the island's hilly interior.
Ishigaki Island has both sandy beaches and rocky beaches which are covered in small pieces of bleached coral. At the beaches you can enjoy swimming (best during high tide), snorkeling, and diving, or just lay in the sun; and while the beaches are open year round, they are best from April to November when the air temperature consistently tops 25 degrees. The beaches usually have public facilities such as showers, restrooms, and rental shops; however, there are no lifeguards, and the facilities may be closed outside of summer.
When using the beaches, always beware of strong currents that can pull you out to sea and poisonous creatures such as Habu Jellyfish, a type of box jellyfish, that are most prevalent from June to October. Signs in English inform about the dangers while some beaches have netted off swimming areas. Although jellyfish stings are rare, if stung you should pour vinegar over the sting, remove any tentacles, and seek medical help as it may become life threatening if left untreated.
While Ishigaki Island is the most populous of the Yaeyama Islands, there is still a lot of nature to experience. In addition to snorkeling and diving along the island's beaches and coral reefs, the interior of Ishigaki has palm forests, mangrove lined rivers, and jungle covered mountains that offer hiking and camping.
The Yaeyama Islands have a rich history and culture going back to before their incorporation into Japan, when they were part of the Ryukyu Kingdom.
How to get to Ishigaki Island
How to get around Ishigaki Island
In 2013, the New Ishigaki Airport was opened ten kilometers outside of Ishigaki's city center, replacing the former airport as the island's gateway.
A rental car is the recommended means of transportation to get around Ishigaki Island. All major Japanese rental car companies have outlets on the island. Most of the island's attractions are within a 30-45 minute drive of Ishigaki City, except for the northernmost peninsula, the tip of which is about 35 kilometers from the city center.
Buses operate frequently between the airport and central Ishigaki. There are two types of buses: direct buses that stop only at the airport and the ferry terminal in the city center (30 minutes, 500 yen one way, every 30 minutes) and buses that serve several stops between the airport and the bus terminal in the city center (35-45 minutes, 540 yen one way, every 15 minutes).
Bus connections to other places on the island are much less frequent. Among them, the Kabira Line connects central Ishigaki with Kabira Bay once every 1-3 hours (45 minutes, 730 yen one way), while the even less frequent Yonehara Line connects central Ishigaki and the airport via Yonehara Beach with Kabira Bay. A 1-day pass for all bus lines is available for 1000 yen, while a 5-day pass costs 2000 yen.
A taxi ride between the airport and Ishigaki's city center takes about 30 minutes and costs around 3000 yen.
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Little Mermaid Hotel IshigakijimaSituated in Ishigaki Island, within 400 metres of Fusaki Beach and 8 km of Yaeyama Museum, Little Mermaid Hotel Ishigakijima features accommodation with a garden and free WiFi as well as free private parking for guests who drive. The property is around 27 km from Tamatorizaki Observation Point, 5 km from Ishigakijima Astronomical Observatory and 6 km from Ishigaki Yaima Village. Banna Park is 7 km from the hotel and Kabira Bay is 14 km away. All rooms are fitted with air conditioning, a microwave, a fridge, a kettle, a bidet, a hairdryer and a wardrobe. At the hotel rooms are equipped with a balcony, a private bathroom and a flat-screen TV. An Asian breakfast is available each morning at Little Mermaid Hotel Ishigakijima. The accommodation offers a terrace. The area is popular for fishing, and car hire is available at Little Mermaid Hotel Ishigakijima. Ishigaki Island Limestone Cave is 7 km from the hotel, while Ishigaki Public Market is 7 km from the property. The nearest airport is New Ishigaki Airport, 13 km from Little Mermaid Hotel Ishigakijima.View on Booking.com
HOSTEL SunTerrace IshigakiHOSTEL SunTerrace Ishigaki in Ishigaki Island provides adults-only accommodation with a shared lounge, a garden and a terrace. This 1-star hostel offers a shared kitchen and luggage storage space. Free WiFi is available and private parking can be arranged at an extra charge. At the hostel rooms are fitted with air conditioning and a safety deposit box. Popular points of interest near HOSTEL SunTerrace Ishigaki include Painuhama Artificial Beach, Yaeyama Museum and Ishigaki Public Market. The nearest airport is New Ishigaki Airport, 11 km from the accommodation.View on Booking.com
Guesthouse AsibinaBoasting a terrace, Guesthouse Asibina is a guest house situated in Ishigaki Island, a 15-minute walk from Yaeyama Kanko Ferry Terminal. The guest house with free WiFi is 13 km away from Yonehara Beach and Kabira Bay. Attractions in the area include Sukuji Beach, 15 km away, or Tamatorizaki Observation Point, set 21 km from the property. All guest rooms are fitted with air conditioning. Each dormitory rooms has an electrical outlet and fan. Shared bathrooms have free toiletries. Guests can benefit from a shared kitchen with a fridge and kitchenware. A washing machine and tumble dryer can be used for a fee. Ishigaki Sunset Beach is 28 km from the guest house. The nearest airport is New Ishigaki Airport, 11 km from Guesthouse Asibina.View on Booking.com
LulaliyaSet in Ishigaki Island, 300 metres from Kabira Bay, Lulaliya features air-conditioned rooms and free private parking. The bed and breakfast has a barbecue and sun terrace, and guests can enjoy a drink at the bar. Some units feature a seating area for your convenience. Extras include slippers, free toiletries and a hair dryer. Lulaliya features free WiFi throughout the property. There is a shared lounge at the property. Sukuji Beach is 1.9 km from Lulaliya, while Yonehara Beach is 5 km away. The nearest airport is New Ishigaki Airport, 13 km from Lulaliya.View on Booking.com
Ishigaki Sunset CoveSituated on the secluded West Coast of Central Ishigaki Island, 18km from Ishigaki City, 5km from Yonehara Beach, Ishigaki Sunset Cove is set along the beach and rooms with free WiFi access. Among the various facilities of this property are an outdoor swimming pool and a garden. At the resort, the rooms come with a wardrobe, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom. Selected rooms here will provide you with a kitchen with a microwave, a toaster and a fridge. The units at Ishigaki Sunset Cove come with a seating area. An alternating Western or Japanese breakfast is available daily at the property. The accommodation offers a sun terrace. The area is popular for cycling, and a limited number of rental cars are available at Ishigaki Sunset Cove. Tamatorizaki Observation Point is 5 km from the resort, while Kabira Bay is 10 km away. The nearest airport is New Ishigaki Airport, 10 km from Ishigaki Sunset Cove.View on Booking.com
Shiraho Friends HouseJust a 2-minute walk from Shiraho Beach, Friends House features a free-use kitchen, free parking and free Wi-Fi throughout. Simple air-conditioned private rooms and dormitory-style accommodation are offered. A shuttle service is available from New Ishigaki Airport at a charge. Guests at Shiraho Friends House can enjoy a private room with a TV that looks out on local greenery, or sleep in a bunk bed in a room shared with other guests. All rooms have shared toilets and bathrooms. The property is a 4-minute walk from Shiraho bus stop and within a 5-minute walk from Shiraho Coral Reef Conservation and Research Centre. Guests must reserve in advance to use the chargeable shuttle from New Ishigaki Airport, which is a 5-minute drive away. You can sunbathe or barbecue at the rooftop sun terrace or use the free-use internet PC at the air-conditioned dining room. There is an outdoor weight-lifting area, and the property has a free-use washing machine and a coin-operated dryer. No meals are served.View on Booking.com
Alaise De Bale IshigakiSituated in Ishigaki Island, 70 metres from Idona Beach, Alaise De Bale Ishigaki features accommodation with a restaurant, free private parking, an outdoor swimming pool and a bar. 11 km from Tamatorizaki Observation Point and 23 km from Yaeyama Museum, the property provides a garden and a terrace. Free WiFi and room service are available. At the hotel, rooms are fitted with a wardrobe, a flat-screen TV, a private bathroom, bed linen and towels. The rooms will provide guests with a fridge. Guests at Alaise De Bale Ishigaki can enjoy a continental breakfast. Guests at the accommodation will be able to enjoy activities in and around Ishigaki Island, like hiking. Banna Park is 22 km from Alaise De Bale Ishigaki, while Ishigaki Yaima Village is 22 km from the property. The nearest airport is New Ishigaki Airport, 10 km from the hotel.View on Booking.com
Matsukaze The Guest House IshigakiFeaturing free WiFi, Matsukaze The Guest House Ishigaki is located across the street from the bus stop and a supermarket. The property is 1 km from Yaeyama Museum. Property staff can assist guests with creating their travel plans and give advise on nearby areas. Featuring a terrace, this 2-star guest house has air-conditioned rooms with a shared bathroom. The accommodation provides a shared kitchen and a shared lounge for guests. The living room features tatami (woven-straw) floors and a seating area where guests can relax. A washing machine is provided for guests during their stay for their comfort, while detergent is available for an additional fee. Guests can rent a bicycle to explore the nearby areas or go snorkeling with a rental snorkeling set available on site. Ishigaki Port Ritoh Terminal is a 8-minute drive or a 15-minute walk from the guest house. Kabira Bay is 13 km from the guest house, while Yonehara Beach is 13 km away. New Ishigaki Airport is 10 km from the property.View on Booking.com
Hotel Patina IshigakijimaA 7-minute walk from Ishigaki Port Ricoh Ferry Terminal and a 3-minute drive from the beach, Hotel Patina Ishigakijima offers cosy rooms with hardwood floors, free internet and a private balcony. Free parking is available on site. The air-conditioned rooms at Patina Hotel include a private bathroom and refrigerator. Guests can enjoy watching the flat-screen TV with a fresh cup of tea. A free-use washing machine and coin-operated dryer are provided, as are free-use bicycles. Free wireless internet and 2 computers with free internet access are offered in the lobby. Massages can be requested for an extra cost. Ishigakijima Patina Hotel’s restaurant serves breakfast daily.View on Booking.com
Guest House Chura Cucule IshigakijimaSituated 1.3 km from Painuhama Artificial Beach, Guest House Chura Cucule Ishigakijima features rooms with air conditioning in Ishigaki Island. Among the facilities at this property are a shared kitchen and a shared lounge, along with free WiFi throughout the property. Private parking can be arranged at an extra charge. The rooms have a shared bathroom, slippers and bed linen. Yaeyama Museum is 1 km from the hostel, while Tamatorizaki Observation Point is 29 km from the property. The nearest airport is New Ishigaki Airport, 11 km from Chura Cucule Ishigakijima.View on Booking.com