Ishigaki was my first stop flying in from Singapore via Tokyo (Haneda Airport) for my WESN Epic Hana Chase across Japan 2018. Ishigaki is the 2nd biggest island in the Yaeyama Islands after Iriomote. It’s also the gateway to the Yaeyama Islands, a group of islands, part of Okinawa Prefecture, which lie in the southernmost/westernmost part of Japan.
I came here as I wanted to visit the Westernmost inhabited place in Japan – Yonaguni Island as well as the Southernmost inhabited place in Japan – Hateruma Island. Thus, Ishikagi was a good central location to base for the access to those islands.
My first view of Ishigaki Island
The view of Ishigaki Island from the plane was absolutely stunning. I was so surprised I could see the colourful corals that surround Ishigaki from the air. I could also see that Ishigaki Island is filled with greenery, a typical tropical island. Beautiful views to a great start for the trip. I couldn’t wait to see what else Ishigaki and Yaeyama Islands had to offer.
What I did in Ishigaki
I only spent a day and a couple of evenings in Ishigaki as the rest of the week was spent visiting the other Yaeyama Islands. So I didn’t cover many tourists spots on Ishigaki.
This is the main city area of Ishigaki Island where most tourists stay as the bus and ferry terminals are located here.
There are lots of food choices and local produce shopping in Ishigaki City. It was quite enjoyable walking around, checking out what’s on offer.
If you’re looking for fresh produces and seasonings, the Ishigaki Public Market and the JA Farmers Market are within walking distance and good places to shop.
Kabira Bay Cruise
I was to spend Day 4 of my WESN Epic Hana Chase across Japan 2018 sightseeing Ishigaki Island. The original plan was to go for a cruise around Kabira Bay, then head to Sukuji Beach and a short trek to Hirakuba Lighthouse. Unfortunately, after I got on the bus ride to Kabira Bay, the weather turned cloudy and rained. I ended up skipping Sukuji Beach and Hirakuba Lighthouse as I didn’t want to get caught in the rain.
Kabira Bay is a must visit spot when visiting Ishigaki Island. The 30mins Kabira Bay Cruise cost JPY1,030 at time of visit. Just head down to the beach where the boats are and purchase a ticket for the next available cruise. The waters were super clear, so it was easy to see from the glass-bottom boat. Sadly, quite a lot of corals looked dead/white. There was pockets of live corals and clams with fishes swimming around. The glass-bottom has a blue tinge so all my photos turned out blueish.
The view of Kabira Bay was quite beautiful and would have looked even nicer on a sunny day. If you check online, you may come across many photos of boats seemingly floating in the air at Kabira Bay. The effect is created when the sun shines and casts the boat’s shadow on the clear waters. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see that due to cloudy and rainy skies.
Here are 2 videos taken from the Kabira Bay Glass Bottom Boat Cruise. It may take sometime to load and play. Also, the videos are a bit shaky as the boat was rocking due to the waves. Do turn down your media volume as the Japanese announcements made were quite loud.
Sightseeing from the bus
Other than the above 2 places, I did most of the sightseeing while travelling in the bus around Ishigaki. There was a lot of greenery and very interesting looking Chinese style tombs. The tomb style was unlike any I had seen before in Asia, they look like small Chinese houses. I didn’t take photos of the tombs as I thought it would have been disrespectful.
There are other places to sightsee on Ishigaki Island but I didn’t have time nor the right transport to get to them. You can read more about them here.