The preserved village on Taketomi Island doesn’t allow cars, so visitors have a choice of getting about by foot, by bicycle, or by suigyūsha (water buffalo). This last choice is very popular among travelers who want to get a unique tour of the island. During the ride, which lasts about a half hour, the guide will both inform you about the island and the village and will entertain you by singing and playing local music on a sanshin (traditional stringed instrument). The guide will be free to do this for you, as the water buffalo are highly skilled in finding their way around.
On Iriomote Island sits Mariyudo Falls, a magnificent waterfall that is accessible by a 40-minute walk from Gunkan-iwa Rock, a stone that sits next to the boating docks of Urauchi River. After docking, visitors walk to an observation area that overlooks the falls from 16 meters (53 feet) above the water (a little further and visitors can see and touch the waterfall firsthand). The falls are named for the sediment pool at the bottom of the rapids. Mariyudo Falls is noted as one of the most beautiful falls in Japan and the largest one on the Okinawa Islands.
A picturesque name for an equally charming panorama, Hoshizuna no Hama, which translates to Star Sand Beach, is one of two beaches in Japan that has grains of sand that are in the shape of stars. What is even more fascinating, is that the asterisk-shaped grains are actually skeletons of mono-celled organisms (Baclogypsina sphaerulata to be exact).The water can get a bit too shallow (depending on the tides) for swimming, but a scenic leisurely outing is always a sure thing at this destination.
Take a break from your regular city life and feel the tranquil of nature at Kabira Bay. The clear blue waters of the bay strikingly contrast the white-sand beach and make this a popular spot among tourists and locals alike for its stunning views. Though you cannot swim at this beautiful location, this place is used for boating and is touted to be one of the most photographed places. After a relaxing day by the serene waters, you can treat yourself to a delicious meal at the nearby restaurants or bars which dot the neighborhood.
Of the Yaeyama Islands, Ishigaki-jima is the main island. In that sense Ishigaki embodies the island cluster best, making it a logical location for where visitors can find the Yaeyama Museum. The museum displays pottery, historical and traditional textiles, various items from local festivals, and even wooden canoes. Each exhibit holds a tangible piece of history from the islands, giving travelers a better idea of where they are sojourning. The museum is closed on Mondays, but on its open days it stops admitting visitors one half hour before closing time.
Touted to have one of the longest beaches in the country, Kondoi Beach is a beautiful beach is Japan. The picturesque beach features clear waters and white sand that are just perfect for a fun-filled outing with your loved ones and are popular among locals and tourists alike. You can enjoy a cooling dip in its water or relax and sun-bathe by the bay, you are sure to enjoy your time here.
Ensconced in the turquoise waters of the East China Sea, the Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park is home to one of Japan's largest mangrove forests. The island that the park calls home is at the deep southern end of the country believed to have disjointed from the mainland several millennia ago. This phenomena is thought to have been responsible for the park's population of the endemic Iriomote Cat, whose lineage can be traced back to the neighboring landmasses. Apart from the exotic feline specie, Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park is home to several endemic plant species like the Yaeyama palm tree and the Macodes petola that complete its verdant environs. Designated as a National Natural Monument of Japan, the Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park's clear skies are often circled by Crested serpent eagles. Their gaze fondly overlooking the region's coral-rich blue waters that are patrolled by the manta rays.