mitch23 / PIXTA(ピクスタ)
- Mayuka Ueno
5 Things You Should Do on Iriomote Island in Okinawa
Okinawa,Iriomote Island,Yaeyama Islands,Hoshizuna no Hama,Pinaisara Falls,Barasu Island
1. Go to Hoshisuna no Hama
Just as the name suggests, Hoshisuna no Hama was named for its many star-shaped grains of sand. Not only is it characterized by its white sandy shore that stretches out, as expected of the southern islands, but it's also known for its angular, rocky areas. Since the ocean is calm and very transparent, you can enjoy snorkelling even in the shallow areas. Then of course, you can try searching for the “star sand”. It is said that once you find them, good fortune will be bestowed upon you so it’s something you definitely want to get your hands on. Please don't get so engrossed in searching that you risk heat stroke!
2. Head over to Barasu Island, an island made of coral
Barasu Island is situated about 5-10 minutes by boat from Iriomote Island. It is a tiny island made of nothing but coral floating above the water. It is a perfect snorkeling spot with exquisitely clear water! If you’re lucky you might even meet a sea turtle! However, even if you don’t go snorkeling, you definitely don’t want to miss out on the sunset at Barasu Island. The coral pathway makes you feel like you're walking on the ocean, and the rising tide thins it out even further. As the sun sets, both the sky and the sea are painted red with nothing to obstruct your view and the only sound being the sound of waves, sending you to a magical space. It is without a doubt, a priceless moment in time.
mitch23 / PIXTA(ピクスタ)
mitch23 / PIXTA(ピクスタ)
3. Take a jungle tour via kayak
90 percent of the surface of Iriomote Island is covered with subtropical virgin forest, a real jungle. It would be a waste not to take a jungle tour and experience pure, untouched nature! On the island there are many tours that you can take via kayak or canoe, following the river to the ocean. The prices differ based on the contents and time but adults can participate from around 10,000 - 15,000 JPY. When you’re paddling your kayak slowly through the mangrove forest, you can encounter lots of wild vegetation that you have never seen before. The river is connected to waterfalls and the ocean so you can get off your kayak and jump into the waterfall or if you’re heading to the ocean, try your hand at snorkeling or paddle surfing. Play around to your heart’s content in the midst of Mother Nature.
4. Gaze upon the stars like you’ve never seen them before
Among other things in Okinawa, it is said that Iriomote Island has the most beautiful stars. Virtually everyone who experiences it gives it high praise with comments like, “There are more stars than you would ever find in a planetarium!” or “You can really see the Milky Way!” If the clouds are few you can see all 21 of the first magnitude stars and 84 of the 88 constellations. In summer you can see the Milky Way! While listening to the sounds of the wind and the birds, you can gaze up at the starry sky and it will surely take your breath away. Also, if you can, going star gazing during the new moon (when you can’t see the moon) is best. If there is no moonlight then you will be able to see the stars better.
5. View the picturesque scenery at Pinaisara Falls
The largest waterfall in Okinawa is Pinaisara Falls which boasts a drop of 55m. Situated on the north side of the island at the foot of Mt. Tedo, you can go there via a trekking tour. From Funaura Bay which commands a view of the falls, you can only get there by going up the river via kayak and entering the jungle. While looking at the rare trees and lizards, you progress up the river for 40 - 50 minutes and then arrive at the top of the falls. From that spot 100m high, you have a view of the entire island. If you walk a bit further from there, the thunderous falls will appear before you and if you put on a life jacket, you can bathe in the basin at the foot of the falls. The soothing scenery, purifying falls and combination of mountain, seam and river is a sightseeing spot that will leave you completely satisfied.
It takes about 40 minutes to 1 hour from Ishigaki Island to Iriomote Island. Although it’s a little far, there are many exciting things that you can only experience there, so be sure to pay a visit.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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