Bestowed with pristine beaches and vibrant coral reef underneath, Ishigaki Island or Ishigaki-jima, the second-largest but most populated among Yaeyama Islands, is known as the foremost destination for beach and tropical season-lovers in Japan.
Aside from being a good spot for water sports and activities, Ishigaki-jima will satisfy every adventurer's craving for climbing greater summits. It has grandiose mountains that can offer the earth’s diversity and breathtaking views for all adrenaline-seekers in a day hike. Caves are also present in Japan's southernmost island-city.
Ishigaki-jima has numerous hotels, shops, restaurants, and bars that suits your vacation and travel needs, being the urban center of Yaeyama district.
The warmth of its beaches signifies the hospitality and friendliness of the locals. If you want to explore the beach culture of Japan, and escape the noise of cities, Ishigaki is, indeed, a must-visit.
Photo by 663highland. Licensed under Creative Commons. (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en)
You'll never run out of things to do in Ishigaki.
To experience the sea, sand, and sun, one can choose from Fusaki, Sunset, and Yonehara beach. Among the three, Yonehara is the most excellent snorkeling spot. Though, swimmers must be wary of jellyfish stings and other untamed marine animals.
Tourists can also enjoy the sea without soaking in the water. One may try horseback riding in Naminma's seaside, or see what's behind the turquoise water by sailing in glass-bottom boats at Kabira Bay.
For those who wanted to be one with nature, Ishagaki offers its preserved nature for thrill-seekers. Leave your footprints in Ishigaki's majestic alps: Mount Nosoko and Mt. Omoto. At Mt. Omoto's base lies the Yaeyama's Palm tree grove that travellers can stroll. Ibaruma Sabichi Cave and Ishigaki Island Limestone cave will also take out the adventurer in you.
From Tokyo, you have to take an air travel to get to Ishigaki Island. There are no trains there, so the major transport is getting a bus trip. However, it is recommended for tourists to rent a car to maximize the visit.
Take note that the minimum age for driving in Japan is 18 years, and you will need a Japanese driver's license or an International Driving Permit (IDP), which can be obtained in your home country, in order to rent and drive a car. Ishigaki's bus terminal is located in the Misakicho area and is positioned just a few minutes walk from the ferry terminal. A five-day unlimited bus pass from different routes are the best deals to explore the whole island, which costs around 1000 Yen. One can choose from Kabira Line, Yonehara Camp Line, and Hirano Line (which heads to Hirakubo Lighthouse). A five-day ticket which allows unlimited travel, open to all routes are also available for just 2000 Yen.
Ishigaki locales have limited use of the English language. Signages can also be a bit confusing for foreigners. If you wish to visit the attractions in Ishigaki, it is recommended to travel with a guide.
Also, Ishigaki's beaches may restrict people from swimming due to jellyfishes. Read and look closely to signages.
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