The island of Ishigaki is the commercial epicentre of the Yaeyama Islands in Okinawa Prefecture. Endowed with natural beauty that extends from alluring tropical beaches to mysterious mangroves to lofty mountain peaks, some say it’s the most beautiful place in Japan.
The perfect place for a retreat to nature, it invites long drives, treks, scuba diving and snorkelling. Some of Okinawa’s finest beaches may be found in Ishigaki, with smooth white sands and the myriad shades of Pacific blue that stretch out far as the eye can see. You’ll find the popular net-protected beaches – to protect people during the jellyfish season – at Maezato and Fusaki, but if you’re feeling adventurous, explore the more secluded beaches where you can discover coral reefs close to the shores of the Yonehara Beach. The Sukuji Beach with its shallow waters and Sunset Beach with stunning sunset views beckon you too.
Ishigaki offers cuisine that is surprisingly different from that of mainland Japan. Cultural influences and the proximity of the sea bring more meat to this plate. Tonsoku or pigs feet are also quite popular.
If you widen your travel radius to include more of Okinawa, you’ll see that nature continues to dazzle you with its tropical beauty. A short distance from Ishigaki lies Kabira Bay, where the ocean is bluest, but strong currents prevent swimming, diving and snorkelling. However, glass bottom boats provide a scenic and unforgettable tour of the waters.
Cape Hedo is a famous landmark, with craggy cliffs that challenge rock climbers and the ocean that offers rewarding snorkelling experiences. The Pacific Ocean meets the South China Sea at this point.
Drive on to Manzamo, a scenic, grassy expanse created by coral reefs. Sit at the edge of the 50m high natural wall and enjoy the waves crashing into the rock surface below you.
If you prefer to see marine life on dry ground, then visit the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, and prepare to be mesmerised by the 77 large transparent tanks that hold the most exquisite marine creatures, like sharks, rays and fishes among others. You can also touch real starfish and sea cucumbers in the touch pool and observe the cultivation of living coral.
Okinawa is a dream come true for nature lovers, and the island of Ishigaki presents the same joy, concentrated within its beautiful shores. Your trip to Japan will be enriched with a visit to this tropical delight.
If you are planning trips around Ishigaki and Okinawa in Japan, do not hesitate to contact your luxury travel designer Mr. Isao Numano.