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The Yaeyama Islands, the Pride of Okinawa: Video Introduction

This video, titled "[4K] Spectacular Aerial Views: Yaeyama Islands, Okinawa (Ishigaki Island, Hatoma Island, Aragusuku Island, Kuroshima Island, Iriomote Island)" (【沖縄/石垣島/竹富島/浜島/幻の島】石垣島観光スポット 絶対行くべき幻の島(浜島)), was uploaded by "AQUA GeoGraphic," a channel that mainly uploads underwater videos of Japan, as well as nature videos and other clips of Japan and abroad. In this video, you will see the spectacular view of the sea of the Yaeyama Islands.

Where Are the Yaeyama Islands?

The Yaeyama Islands are a group of 12 islands, including Ishigaki Island, Taketomi Island, Kohama Island, Kuroshima Island, Aragusuku Island, Iriomote Island, Hateruma Island, and Yonaguni Island. They occupy one fourth of the total area of Okinawa Prefecture. Check out the aerial and underwater footage of the beautiful sea of the Yaeyama Islands in the video!

Kabira Bay – A Scenic Location 40 Minutes From New Ishigaki Airport

Image of Kabira Bay, Ishigaki Island
Photo:Kabira Bay, Ishigaki Island

Kabira Bay is located about 40 minutes away from New Ishigaki Airport, the gateway to the Yaeyama Islands, by car. The color of the sea changes depending on the time of day you view it from, and the scenery afforded by the uninhabited islands scattered throughout the bay is simply breathtaking. The view of the bay has been selected as one of the "Top 100 Landscapes of Japan." The Beauty of Kabira Bay has earned it three stars in the Michelin Green Guide Japan.

Popular Scuba Diving Spots on Ishigaki Island!

Image of scuba diving on Ishigaki Island, Okinawa
Photo:Scuba diving on Ishigaki Island, Okinawa

There are many beautiful scuba diving spots and must-see locations around Ishigaki Island. Here are a few places we recommend checking out:

・Kabira-Ishizaka Manta Scramble (川平石崎マンタスクランブル) - A place scuba diving spot where you can dive with manta rays
・Yoshiwara Arch (吉原アーチ) - A fantastical underwater scuba diving spot where the light shines beautifully through the exit of the arch
・Jukabijin (樹下美人) - A tree-shaped root with schools of fish dancing around it
・Arakawa Double Arch (荒川Wアーチ) - An arch with two tunnels, crevasses, and other terrain
・Yonehara Double Reef (米原Wリーフ) - A scuba diving spot that can be enjoyed by beginners and expert divers alike

These are only some of the scuba diving spots you can find on Ishigaki Island, but there are many more.

Things to Do on Hatoma Island – A Lesser-Known Destination in Okinawa

Hatoma Island is a small island with a population of just 50 people. Although the island does not attract as many people as other tourist sites, it's a place where humans and animals coexist in harmony. With beautiful sandy beaches and coral reefs there's plenty to enjoy here. You can even see wild goats in town. Both children and adults can enjoy snorkeling on the sandy white beaches.

Legends of Mermaids on Aragusuku Island

Image of Aragusuku Island, Taketomi, Okinawa
Photo:Aragusuku Island, Taketomi, Okinawa

Aragusuku Island is said to have once been inhabited by dugongs, and you can even find Ningyo Shrine (人魚神社, lit. 'Mermaid Shrine') on the island that only islanders are allowed to enter. It's a mysterious island with many other forbidden areas.
Aragusuku Island consists of two islands, Kamiji Island and Shimoji Island, which are not accessible by regular boats and can only be reached via tours departing from Ishigaki Island or Iriomote Island with local guides. The islands are known as snorkeling spots where you can enjoy nature.

Things to Do on Kuroshima Island – A Unique, Heart-Shaped Island With Fresh Air, Sea Turtles, and More!

Image of Kuroshima Island, Okinawa
Photo:Kuroshima Island, Okinawa

Kuroshima Island is known as "Heart Island" because of its heart-like shape. It is also known as a nesting ground for sea turtles, and the island is home to the Kuroshima Research Institute, which researches sea turtles and other marine life. Interestingly, the cow population on Kuroshima is 10 times that of the human population, so visitors can enjoy a magnificent view of cows dotting the landscape. Visitors also can enjoy swimming and snorkeling at Nakamoto Beach, located on the west side of the island.

Jungle Tours and Cave Exploration on Iriomote Island, the Last Unexplored Island in Japan

Image of a jungle tour on Iriomote Island, Okinawa
Photo:A jungle tour on Iriomote Island, Okinawa

Iriomote Island is referred to as "the last unexplored island in Japan" and is covered with pristine subtropical virgin forests and mangrove forests at many river mouths. Iriomote Island offers many activities to enjoy its great nature, including scuba diving, kayaking, spelunking, and jungle trekking tours.

Other Things to Do on the Yaeyama Islands!

Image of a starry sky from the Yaeyama Islands
Photo:A starry sky from the Yaeyama Islands

In addition to the islands mentioned above, there are several other remote islands in the Yaeyama Islands which have their own charms. Hateruma Island, the southernmost inhabited island in Japan, is home to the beautiful sea dubbed Hateruma Blue and starry skies, which are a prime location for stargazing. To get to Hateruma Island, you'll have to take a high-speed boat (ferry) from Ishigaki Island.

Taketomi Island, a small island southwest of Ishigaki Island, is a popular remote island where you can fully experience the tropical atmosphere of Okinawa. The buffalo cart tour, which takes you to traditional Okinawan houses with red-tile roofs, banyan trees, coral trees, and other seasonal flowers, all while listening to Okinawan folk songs played by the guide, is extremely popular.

Kohama Island, located on the east side of Iriomote Island, is one of the leading resort areas in the Yaeyama Islands. Although Kohama Island is home to famous resort hotels, much of the nature on the island remains untouched, and there is even a famous road called Sugar Road that passes through the middle of sugar cane fields. It's a popular location that has been used in many Japanese television dramas.

Yonaguni Island, Japan's westernmost island, is full of attractions, such as Tategami Rock (Standing God Rock) and Gunkan Rock (Battleship Rock). Yonaguni Island is also home to a hill where you can view the last sunset in Japan each day, as well as spots that are thought to be underwater ruins. In addition to scuba diving, you can enjoy glass boat and snorkeling tours as well.

In addition, tourists to Yonaguni Island can purchase souvenirs in the souvenir store at Yonaguni Airport to commemorate their trip to the island. For example, you can buy hanasake (a special type of spirit, made only on Yonaguni island, with 60% alcohol content), as well as straps and drawstrings made of Yonaguni ori (Yonaguni brocade), a vivid fabric with 500 years of history.

How to Get to the Yaeyama Islands & Visiting Other Islands: Ferry Schedules + Prices

As we mentioned above, New Ishigaki Airport is the gateway to the Yaeyama Islands. As such, visitors to the island will need to travel to the island by plane.
Flights are available from all major airports in Japan, including Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Okinawa. Flight prices and times will vary by location.

In the past, there was a ferry from Naha that took visitors directly to the Yaeyama Islands, but the service was discontinued in 2008.

After you've arrived on Ishigaki Island, you can visit the other islands via ferry. Most islands have regularly scheduled ferries, but some islands have just 1-2 ferries scheduled each day, so we recommend looking up ferry timetables before visiting. Please also keep in mind that because travel time to each islands varies, so to do ferry ticket prices. Round trip tickets can cost anywhere from 1,500 yen (~10 USD) to 6,000 yen (~42 USD).

Summary of the Yaeyama Islands, Okinawa

If you haven't already watched the video, be sure to take a look at it, as you can see incredible aerial views of the islands in Okianwa, Japan. The Yaeyama Islands are a place where you can enjoy untouched nature, as well as scuba diving and snorkeling in crystal clear waters.

The Yaeyama Islands also offer a unique cultural experience, different than you'll find on mainlaind Okinawa. With all this in mind, what are you waiting for?! Plan your trip to the Yaeyama Islands!

【Trip Advisor】Okinawa, Japan

Written By
Last Updated : Jul. 12, 2023
平敷 篤(Atsushi Heishiki)
My name is Atsushi Heishiki, a writer who loves Japanese culture and lives in Okinawa.
The Yaeyama Islands: Scuba Diving, Snorkeling, and Other Things to Do on the Islands of Okinawa, Japan!
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