Yonaguni Island (^ί, Yonaguni-jima) is the westernmost island of Japan. It is located in Okinawa Prefecture and is a part of the Yaeyama Islands. The small island has a circumference of about 30 kilometers and a population of under 2000 people. The island is known for its marine activities like scuba diving, as well as for some of its native fauna like the Atlas moth and Yonaguni horse.
The main attractions for scuba divers are large numbers of migrating hammerhead sharks that can be seen around the island between late November and May, and the unique "underwater ruins", known as the Yonaguni Monument. The underwater stone formations are geometrically so perfectly shaped that there is a debate to whether they are natural or man-made.
Prices for single dives for certified divers start from about 8500 yen and typically only include a guide, transport, tank and wetsuit. Trial dives are available for non-certified divers, and the prices typically start from 15,000 yen including all equipment and gear. Note that trial dives to the underwater monument cost around 25,000 yen, but are not recommended for beginners due to strong currents.
Numerous beaches can be found along the island's coast, offering clear waters for swimming. Unlike the other Yaeyama Islands, Yonaguni does not have much coral reef, but is exposed to the sea and its currents. Swimmers enter at their own risk.
Yonaguni is home to the Yonaguni horse, a native Japanese breed. These pony-sized horses typically have brown hair and were originally used as riding horses. Today they are a protected breed and allowed to roam freely in the three pastures near the villages. Texas gates, a grid of slates above a depression on the road, act as a barrier and deter the horses from leaving the pastures.
There are three villages on the island: Sonai in the north, Kubura in the west and Higawa in the south. The most populous village is Sonai, followed by the fishing village of Kubura. Higawa has only around 100 inhabitants.
Below are some of the attractions on Yonaguni:
Westernmost Point and Irizaki Lighthouse
The western cape of Yonaguni and some stones in the water off the cape make up Japan's westernmost point. As such, it is also the last place in the country to see the sunset. Irizaki Lighthouse and a monument celebrating the extreme point can be found at the cape. Taiwan can be seen just over 100 kilometers across the sea in the distance when visibility is good.
The Agarizaki Lighthouse stands at the opposite end of the island, at the eastern cape of Yonaguni. It is surrounded by spectacular, high sea cliffs that make up the coastline. Iriomote Island can be seen in the distance when visibility is good. The pony-sized, native Yonaguni horses are often seen roaming the pastures around the Agarizaki Lighthouse.
Gunkan and Tategami rocks
The coast southeast of Yonaguni's western cape continues to offer a spectacular scenery with rugged terrain, high sea cliffs and numerous notable rock formations. Of interest are the Gunkan-iwa, a stout and imposing rock named after a warship, and Tategami-iwa, a tall candle-shaped rock. There are multiple lookout points along the road.
Tindabana is rock outcrop that towers about 85 meters above the village of Sonai. A lookout point in the outcrop offers panoramic views of the village, the nearby Nanta Beach and the East China Sea. The viewpoint is reached via a 200 meter long walking trail along the cliff from the nearest parking lot.
The Atlas Moth Museum (Ayamibabiru-kan) is located in the middle of the eastern half of Yonaguni. The museum showcases the Atlas Moth - or Ayamibabiru as it is known locally - which is the largest moth in the world. The museum introduces the habitat of the tropical moth, and visitors will be able to see them up close as well.
Dr. Koto Clinic
Hours: 10:00 to 17:00 Admission: 300 yen Closed: No closing days
The Dr. Koto Clinic served as the location setting for a highly popular television drama of the same name that ran from 2003 to 2006. The small building stands at the edge of the beach on the eastern end of Higawa village. Visitors can see props and material used in the drama.
Ryukyu Air Commuter (RAC), a member of the JAL Group, operates one daily flight between Naha Airport and Yonaguni Airport. Flight duration is around 75 minutes. The regular one way fare is about 35,000 yen, while discount fares are usually available for around 20,000 yen.
Ryukyu Air Commuter (RAC), a member of the JAL Group, operates three daily flights between Ishigaki Airport and Yonaguni Airport. Flight duration is around 30 minutes. The regular one way fare costs about 13,000 yen, while discount fares are usually available for about 8000 yen.
Twice weekly, a car ferry makes the journey between Ishigaki and Kubura Port on the western end of Yonaguni Island. The one way journey takes about 4.5 hours and costs 3550 yen. A round trip fare is available for 6750 yen and must be used within 14 days. The cost for bringing an average sized car onto the ferry is about 30,000 yen one way.
How to get around Yonaguni Island
There is one road that runs along the perimeter of Yonaguni Island and connects Yonaguni Airport, the three villages and most of the island's attractions with each other, as well as a few roads that cross the island.
A free community bus runs about once every two hours along the western half of the island and serves the three villages. Besides the public bus, rental vehicles like cars and mopeds are available on the island. A compact car costs about 5000 yen per day, while a moped costs about 3000 yen. Advance reservations are strongly recommended as the number of vehicles is limited.
Rental bicycles are also available from the rental shops or from your accommodation. It takes about three to four hours to cycle around the island, and an electric-assisted bicycle is recommended due to the distance and hilly terrain in some parts of the island. It costs between 1500 and 3000 yen to rent a bicycle for 24 hours.
Located in Ishigaki Island in the Okinawa region and Yaeyama Museum reachable within 7 km, Ishigakijima Pacific Club provides accommodation with free WiFi, BBQ facilities, a garden and free private parking. Accommodation is comprised of a living room, a kitchen with a microwave and a fridge, a washing machine, and a private bathroom with bidet and shower. All units are air conditioned and include a seating and/or dining area. ? la carte and American breakfast options are available daily at the apartment. Ishigakijima Pacific Club offers a terrace. A car rental service is available at the accommodation. Tamatorizaki Observation Point is 22 km from Ishigakijima Pacific Club, while Ishigaki Public Market is 7 km away. The nearest airport is New Ishigaki, 6 km from the apartment, and the property offers a free airport shuttle service.
HOSTEL 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. Popular points of interest near the hostel include Painuhama Artificial Beach, Yaeyama Museum and Ishigaki Public Market. The nearest airport is New Ishigaki Airport, 11 km from HOSTEL SunTerrace Ishigaki.
Boasting 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.
Situated 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. The rooms in the hotel are fitted with a kettle. At Alaise De Bale Ishigaki rooms are fitted with a wardrobe, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom. Guests at the accommodation can enjoy a continental breakfast. Guests at Alaise De Bale Ishigaki will be able to enjoy activities in and around Ishigaki Island, like hiking. Banna Park is 22 km from the hotel, while Ishigaki Yaima Village is 22 km from the property. The nearest airport is New Ishigaki Airport, 10 km from Alaise De Bale Ishigaki.
Situated in Ishigaki Island, 5 km 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.
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.
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.
Featuring 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.
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.
Set in Ishigaki Island in the Ishigaki Region, 200 metres from Kabira Bay, Joya features a sun terrace. Free private parking is available on site. Each room is equipped with a private bathroom equipped with a bath. Joya features free WiFi. There is a shared lounge at the property. Sukuji Beach is 1.9 km from Joya, while Yonehara Beach is 5 km away. New Ishigaki Airport is 13 km from the property.