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Ishigaki Island (Ί_, 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. A diving highlight is Manta Scramble near Kabira Bay, where manta rays congregate in large numbers.

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.

Beaches

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.

Yonehara Beach

Admission: free, 500 yen for parking

Sukuji Beach

Admission: free, no parking fees

Sunset Beach

Admission: 500 yen for facilities and 500 yen for parking

Nature

While Ishigaki Island is the most populous of the Yaeyama Islands, there is still a lot of nature to experience. In addition to 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.

Kabira Bay

Boat departures: 9:00 to 17:00
Boat fee: 1200 yen

River Kayak Tours

Tours depart in the mornings and afternoons
Fee: around 6000 yen for a 3-hour tour

Tamatorizaki Observation Point

Hours: always open
Admission: free

Yonehara Palm Tree Groves

Hours: always open
Admission: free

History

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.

Yaeyama Museum

Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (entry until 16:30)
Closed: Mondays (or next day if Mon is a public holiday), Dec 29 to Jan 3
Admission: 200 yen

Tojinbaka

Hours: always open
Admission: free

Miyara Dunchi

Hours: 9:00 to 17:00
Closed: Tuesdays, January 1-3
Admission: 200 yen

Ishigaki Yaima Village

Hours: 9:00 to 17:30 (entry until 17:00)
Closed: No closing days
Admission: 1000 yen

Getting there and around

How to get to Ishigaki Island

Ishigaki Island is the transportation hub of the Yaeyama Islands. Please visit the Yaeyama orientation page for information on how to get to Ishigaki.

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: 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.

How to get to the Yaeyama Islands

Hotels around Yaeyama Islands

Top rated on the Yaeyama Islands
Budget:
    • Little Mermaid Hotel Ishigakijima
      Mid-range
      Situated in Ishigaki Island and within 400 metres of Fusaki Beach, Little Mermaid Hotel Ishigakijima has a garden, non-smoking rooms, and free WiFi. Built in 2019, this 3-star hotel is within 2.3 km of Shanishani Beach and 7.2 km of Yaeyama Museum. Ishigakijima Astronomical Observatory is 5.5 km away and Ishigaki Island Limestone Cave is 6.5 km from the hotel. The hotel will provide guests with air-conditioned rooms offering a wardrobe, a kettle, a fridge, a microwave, a safety deposit box, a flat-screen TV, a terrace and a private bathroom with a bidet. Little Mermaid Hotel Ishigakijima features some rooms with sea views, and each room has a balcony. At the accommodation rooms are equipped with bed linen and towels. The area is popular for fishing, and car hire is available at this 3-star hotel. Tamatorizaki Observation Point is 27 km from Little Mermaid Hotel Ishigakijima, while Ishigaki Yaima Village is 5.4 km from the property. The nearest airport is New Ishigaki Airport, 18 km from the hotel.
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    • Guest House Yun Terrace
      Budget-friendly
      Located 1.1 km from Painuhama Artificial Beach, Guest House Yun Terrace offers 2-star accommodation in Ishigaki Island and features a terrace. With a shared lounge, the 2-star guest house has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi, each with a shared bathroom. Private parking is available on site. Tadahama Beach is 2.2 km from the guest house, while Maezato Beach is 3 km away. The nearest airport is New Ishigaki Airport, 13 km from Guest House Yun Terrace.
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    • Shiraho Friends House
      Budget-friendly
      Just 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.
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    • HOSTEL SunTerrace Ishigaki
      Budget-friendly
      Situated in Ishigaki Island, 1.3 km from Painuhama Artificial Beach, HOSTEL SunTerrace Ishigaki features accommodation with a shared lounge, private parking and a terrace. With a garden, the 1-star hostel has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi, each with a shared bathroom. The accommodation provides a shared kitchen, and luggage storage for guests. A safety deposit box is accessible to all guests, while certain rooms are equipped with a game console. The rooms have bed linen. Tadahama Beach is 2.7 km from the hostel, while Yaeyama Museum is 300 metres from the property. The nearest airport is New Ishigaki Airport, 13 km from HOSTEL SunTerrace Ishigaki.
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    • Alaise De Bale Ishigaki
      Luxury
      Situated in Ishigaki Island, 90 metres from Idona Beach, Alaise De Bale Ishigaki features accommodation with an outdoor swimming pool, free private parking, a garden and a terrace. Among the facilities of this property are a restaurant, room service and luggage storage space, along with free WiFi. Guests can make use of a bar. At the hotel, the rooms include a wardrobe. Complete with a private bathroom fitted with a bidet and free toiletries, the rooms at Alaise De Bale Ishigaki have a flat-screen TV and air conditioning, and certain rooms come with a balcony. At the accommodation rooms are fitted with bed linen and towels. Guests at Alaise De Bale Ishigaki can enjoy a continental breakfast. Guests at the hotel will be able to enjoy activities in and around Ishigaki Island, like hiking. Tamatorizaki Observation Point is 11 km from Alaise De Bale Ishigaki, while Yaeyama Museum is 23 km from the property. The nearest airport is New Ishigaki Airport, 13 km from the accommodation.
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    • Lulaliya
      Budget-friendly
      Set 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.
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    • Ishigaki Sunset Cove
      Luxury
      Situated 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.
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    • Guest House Chura Cucule Ishigakijima
      Budget-friendly
      Situated in Ishigaki Island, 2.3 km from Painuhama Artificial Beach, Guest House Chura Cucule Ishigakijima features air-conditioned accommodation and a shared lounge. The property is set less than 1 km from Yaeyama Museum, 26 km from Tamatorizaki Observation Point and 2.6 km from Ishigaki Island Limestone Cave. Private parking can be arranged at an extra charge. With a shared bathroom fitted with a bidet and a hairdryer, rooms at the hostel also boast free WiFi. At Guest House Chura Cucule Ishigakijima rooms are fitted with bed linen and towels. Banna Park is 3.2 km from the accommodation, while Ishigakijima Astronomical Observatory is 5.9 km from the property. The nearest airport is New Ishigaki Airport, 15 km from Guest House Chura Cucule Ishigakijima.
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    • Hotel Patina Ishigakijima
      Mid-range
      A 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 Hotelfs restaurant serves breakfast daily.
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    • FUSAKI BEACH RESORT HOTEL & VILLAS
      Luxury
      Just a minute's walk from Fusaki Beach, FUSAKI BEACH RESORT HOTEL & VILLAS features pools, 4 restaurants and aroma healing spa treatments. Free WiFi is available throughout the property. The resort provides yoga lessons and various marine activities, such as snorkelling and canoeing, at a surcharge. An on-site gift shop and market is available for guest's convenience. The hotel offers airport shuttle service to and from New Ishigaki Airport free of charge, while free public parking is available at the resort. Rooms at FUSAKI BEACH RESORT HOTEL & VILLAS come with an en suite bathroom with a hairdryer, toothbrush sets and free toiletries. Rooms are equipped with a flat-screen TV, a fridge and electric kettle. Restaurant Ishigaki Bold Kitchen serves buffet dishes including local specialities for breakfast, lunch and dinner. RYUKYU SHINTENCHI offers Okinawan-style Chinese dinner, while dinners at seasonal restaurant BEACHSIDE GRILL Kachi-bai features Ishigaki beef. Guests can also enjoy a drink at THE STAR BAR. Ishigaki Airport is a 35-minute drive from the property, while Ishigaki Harbour is located within a 15-minute driving distance. Kannonzaki Lighthouse can be found within a 6-minute walk.
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