Ishigaki Island: Discover

1 Days

Ishigaki: gateway to the Yaeyama Islands, and home to clear emerald-green water and scenery that will take your breath away. This comprehensive single-day itinerary covers some of the island’s most picturesque sights, including impressive panoramic views from its observatory and lighthouses, picture-perfect Kabira Bay, and even a surreal limestone cave.

Note: This itinerary is designed for travel by car, the easiest way to get around Ishigaki Island.

Access From Narita

  1. Day 1

      1. Ishigaki Airport → [20 minutes by Car] → Tamatorizaki Observatory

      1Tamatorizaki Observatory

      Located at the east coast of Ishigaki at the base of Mt. Kinbu, the Tamatorizaki Observatory offers stunning panoramic views of Ibaruma Bay and the Hirakubo Peninsula. Hibiscus flowers along the path to the observatory add to the tropical feel, and the water above the coral reef sparkles in the sun.

      1. Tamatorizaki Observatory → [20 minutes by Car] → Cape Hirakubo

      2Cape Hirakubo

      Ishigaki’s most northern point, Cape Hirakubo, is one of the most scenic and untouched areas of the whole island. At the tip of the cape is the iconic white Hirakubo Lighthouse, offering 360-degree views of ocean, mountain and grasslands where cattle graze. From the lookout point, the waters below are so clear you can see coral reefs and a deep drop-off into the sapphire colored seas. On clear days you can see as far as Tarama Island to the east.

      1. Cape Hirakubo → [40 minutes by Car] → Yaeyama Palm Tree Grove

      3Yaeyama Palm Tree Grove

      Found nowhere else in the world but on Ishigaki and Iriomote islands, the endemic Yaeshima Palm Trees are a nationally protected plant species. The best place to see these native trees is at the Yonehara Palm Grove near Maibara village, where a short footpath takes you through the forest to see the palms towering 25 meters above your head. The grove is a nationally designated Natural Monument.

      1. Yaeyama Palm Tree Grove → [15 minutes by Car] → Kabira Bay

      4Kabira Bay

      One of the most famous spots in Ishigaki – and one of the Top 100 Landscapes of Japan – Kabira Bay is truly picture perfect. The colors of the ocean are said to change with the tides, turning from shades of turquoise to emerald. The popular glass-bottomed boats reveal a pristine underwater world below, where black pearls are cultivated. Though swimming is not allowed due to strong currents, visitors can still enjoy the beach and the gorgeous views.

      1. Kabira Bay → [15 minutes by Car] → Ishigaki Yaima Village

      5Ishigaki Yaima Village

      Step back in time at Ishigaki Yaima Mura, where 100-year-old traditional village houses of Yaeyama have been carefully restored. Designated as a tangible cultural heritage of Japan, this traditional architecture is an icon of the islands. Visitors can also enjoy folk music performances, visit a mangrove forest (in Nagura Amparu, a Ramsar Site), and play with curious Squirrel Monkeys. Try your hand at local arts and crafts, such as shisa painting, or dress up in classy Ryukyu-style kimono. On-site is the Amparu cafeteria, serving up delicious Ishigaki cuisine, with fantastic views of Nagura Bay.

      1. Ishigaki Yaima Village → [10 minutes by Car] → Banna Park

      6Banna Park

      Named after 230m-high Mt. Banna, this large, hilly park has something for everyone, with an “Adventure Playground” for children, forested paths and a bird-watching observatory for nature enthusiasts, and several observatories offering expansive views of the island and sea. Fireflies can be seen along the “Firefly Trail” between April and June, and an insect museum showcases many of the island’s creepy-crawlies. Segway tours (reservations required) are another fun option for visitors to this popular local park.

      1. Banna Park → [10 minutes by Car] → Ishigaki Island Limestone Cave

      7Ishigaki Island Limestone Cave

      See the incredible natural phenomenon of a limestone cave formed on top of a coral reef more than 200,000 years ago. Follow a footpath 660m long through the illuminated wonders of Ishigaki Cave, with dramatic stalactite formations, grottoes, and ancient fossils. Don’t miss interesting sights such as the “Squeaky Coral Path,” the “Sake Cellar,” and the “Lake of Longevity.” Anime fans will no doubt love the Totoro Stalactite!

      1. Ishigaki Island Limestone Cave → [25 minutes by Car] → Cape Ogan

      8Cape Ogan

      Finish your day at Oganzaki (Cape Ogan), located on the Yarabu Peninsula on Ishigaki’s west coast. The white Oganzaki Lighthouse contrasts beautifully with the blue waters and surrounding cliffs, and is the perfect place to watch the sun set. This spot is famous for the Easter lilies which bloom every spring,
      and the top of the cliff offers beautiful ocean views of the Oganzaki peninsula throughout the year.