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Iriomote Island (¼•\“‡, Iriomotejima) is Okinawa's second largest island. It is largely undeveloped, with nearly 90 percent of its land covered by dense jungle and mangrove forests. Wide areas of the island are part of the Iriomote Ishigaki National Park, the southernmost of Japan's national parks and one of the country's most unique.

The island's attractions are based around tours to Iriomote's abundant nature including sea and river kayaking, fishing and sailing. Other activities can be enjoyed either on tours or individually such as beaches, snorkeling and various hiking trails, the most challenging of which is a 20 kilometer path through the interior of the island which should only be tackled by experienced and well prepared hikers.

Iriomote is also a popular scuba diving destination especially at Manta Way, the strait between Iriomote and nearby Kohama Island, where schools of manta rays congregate in spring and summer. Diving tours are available for all skill levels.

The island is also home to the Iriomote Yamaneko, a type of wildcat, which was discovered in 1965 and is only found on Iriomote Island. The chances of encountering an Iriomote Yamaneko are low as the nocturnal, house cat sized animal is an endangered species that is thought to number less than 100 individuals.

River activities

Most of the island's interior is covered in dense jungle accessible by a number of rivers that head inland from the sea. Jungle boat cruises are organized on the island's two longest rivers, the Urauchigawa (Urauchi River) and Nakamagawa (Nakama River), and guided kayak tours operate on both of those as well as many of the smaller rivers around the island.

Urauchi River Cruise

Boat Departures: 9:00 to 15:30
Closed: No closing days
Fee: 2200 yen

Nakama River Cruise

Boat Departures: At least 1-2 boats per day
Closed: No closing days
Fee: 2000 yen

Kayak River Tours

Fee: around 8000 yen for a guided 3-hour tour

Pinaisara Falls

Fee: around 9000 yen for a half day tour

Omisha Road Park

Admission: Free

Beaches

Iriomote has its share of beautiful beaches which offer swimming, snorkeling and diving opportunities. Most of the beaches around Iriomote do not have any public facilities, and some of them can only be reached by boat as the island's coast is only partially accessible by car.

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 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.

Hoshizuna no Hama

Admission: Free, no parking fees

Tudumari no Hama

Admission: Free, no parking fees

Barasu Island

Fee: around 8000 yen for a half day snorkeling tour

Other attractions

Yubujima Suigyu Cart Ride

Hours: 9:30 to 16:00
Closed: No closing days
Fee: 1760 yen (round trip and entry to the botanical garden)

Yamaneko Museum (Iriomote Wildlife Conservation Center)

Hours: 10:00 to 17:00
Closed: Mondays (or next day if Mon is a holiday), Jun 23 and Dec 29 to Jan 3
Admission: Free

Getting there and around

Ferry companies operate high speed ferries, as well as an infrequent car ferry, between Iriomote and Ishigaki Island.

High speed ferries depart Ishigaki for Ohara Port (1830 yen, 35-40 minutes, departures every 1-2 hours) on the south end of the island and Uehara Port (2390 yen, 40-50 minutes, departures every 1-2 hours) in the north. Additionally, slower car ferries operate on selected days of the week to Ohara (80 minutes, 1350 yen one way) and Uehara (110-130 minutes, 1750 yen one way). Online reservations can be made through Direct Ferries.

There is only one main road on Iriomote, running along the coast from Shirahama to Ohara. A public bus runs between Shirahama and Ohara four times per day. The complete journey takes about 90 minutes and costs 1410 yen. A one day bus pass is available for 1050 yen while a three day pass costs 1570 yen.

Besides the public buses, there are shuttle buses, operated by ferry companies and by the various diving and sightseeing companies on the island. Lastly, it is also possible to rent a car from one of several outlets near the ferry terminals.

How to get to and around 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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    • 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 Hotelfs 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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    • ANA InterContinental Ishigaki Resort, an IHG Hotel
      Luxury
      ANA InterContinental Ishigaki Resort is a 20-minute drive from New Ishigaki Airport. It features a fitness centre, spa, outdoor and indoor swimming pools, and 9 dining options. Rooms have ocean and garden views. The spacious rooms at ANA InterContinental feature free wired internet and equipped with a cable TV, DVD player and a minibar. Each features a cool wooden floor and large windows. Guests can unwind at the Spa. There is also a business centre, a recreation and sports court and a whirlpool at ANA InterContinental. Travel services and marine activities such as snorkeling, diving and kayaking and are offered at the tour desk. A golf course and tennis courts are on site. Fish and Meat Bistro SALTIDA serves fresh local ingredients. Japanese dishes are available at Yaeyama Japanese Restaurant. Tropics Lounge and Bar offers local beers and tropical cocktails. Ishigaki Port is a 10-minute drive and Banna Park is a 25-minute drive away.
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