I started my WESN Epic Hana Chase Across Japan 2018 at Yaeyama Islands in Okinawa Prefecture. This was where I could visit the Westernmost and Southernmost inhabited locations in Japan. I was not much of a beach person but Okinawa and Yaeyama Islands really changed my mind. They had the most gorgeous sea/beach/colours I’ve ever seen.
I flew in from Haneda Airport on an ANA domestic flight directly to Ishigaki Island. On the way there, I saw the most interesting clouds ever from the plane, the clouds looked like milk! As the plane got closer to the Yaeyama Islands, I was in for a treat as the waters around the islands were so clear. I was able to see the colourful corals from the plane up above!
My Yaeyama Islands Itinerary
I allocated 7 days to cover Yaeyama Islands, arriving in Ishigaki Island on 5 Mar 2018 (Mon) and leaving for Naha on 12 Mar (Mon). My original plan was:
5 Mar Mon – arrive in Ishigaki Island, stay a night to rest up from the long flights from Singapore
6 Mar Tue & 7 Mar Wed – fly to Yonaguni Island for an overnight stay, return to Ishigaki on 7 Mar Wed evening
8 Mar Thu – sightseeing around Ishigaki Island
9 Mar Fri & 10 Mar Sat – ferry ride to Hateruma Island for an overnight stay, return to Ishigaki on 10 Mar Sat afternoon
11 Mar Sun – sightseeing day trip to Iriomote Island
12 Mar Mon – fly to Naha for next part of Okinawa travels
Unfortunately, the waves were too strong for the ferry to operation on the day I was to travel to Hateruma Island and also the next day. So I had to change my plan to:
9 Mar Fri – Taketomi sightseeing (suggested by the Tourist Information Centre)
10 Mar Sat – day trip sightseeing tour to Iriomote Island and Yuba Island
11 Mar Sun – day trip sightseeing tour to Hateruma Island (luckily the weather and waves got better!)
The Yaeyama Islands I visited
The Yaeyama Islands consist of 11 islands, most are inhabited while a few are not. These are the 6 islands I visited.
Ishigaki Island – My first stop flying in from Singapore via Haneda Airport. It’s also the gateway to the Yaeyama Islands and the 2nd biggest island in the chain after Iriomote Island.
Yonaguni Island – People visit Yonaguni for 3 main purposes – to be at the Westernmost inhabited point of Japan, swim with Hammerhead Sharks and to visit Yonaguni Monument which some claimed is the lost city of Atlantis.
Taketomi Island – The closest island to Ishigaki and holds a traditional Okinawan village. Many visit to see the traditional homes and ride the water buffalo carts.
Iriomote Island / Yuba Island – The whole Iriomote island is a national park as it is full of mangrove swamps. Ride the water buffalo carts to visit a tropical garden on Yuba Island.
Hateruma Island – If you want to visit the Southernmost inhabited point of Japan, Hateruma is the place to visit. However, it’s not easy to get here as the waves determine whether the ferry runs. Plan for ferries to be cancelled last minute and/or getting stuck on the island till the next ferry.
These are the other islands I didn’t visit. You can read more about them from the Visit Okinawa links: