Explore Iriomote: The Serene Isle of Japan

Explore Iriomote: The Serene Isle of Japan


Iriomote, also known as Iriomotejima, is a serene and picturesque island located in the Okinawa Prefecture of Japan. It is the largest of the Yaeyama Islands and is often referred to as the "Galapagos of Japan" due to its unique and diverse ecosystem. With its pristine beaches, lush forests, and crystal-clear waters, Iriomote is a paradise for nature lovers and adventure seekers.

Getting There

To reach Iriomote, travelers can fly into Naha Airport in Okinawa and then take a domestic flight to Ishigaki Airport. From Ishigaki, a ferry service operates regularly to Iriomote Island. Alternatively, there are also direct ferry options from Ishigaki to Iriomote for those who prefer a scenic boat ride.

Exploring Nature

Iriomote is home to a wide variety of exotic plant and animal species, making it a dream destination for nature enthusiasts. Here are some of the must-visit attractions for nature lovers:

1. Iriomote National Park

Iriomote National Park is a protected area that covers a significant portion of the island. It is known for its dense mangrove forests, beautiful hiking trails, and breathtaking waterfalls. Visitors can take guided tours to explore the park's natural wonders, go kayaking in the mangroves, or embark on a thrilling jungle trek.

2. Pinaisara Falls

Pinaisara Falls is one of the most impressive waterfalls in Iriomote. Cascading down from a height of 55 meters, it offers a mesmerizing sight. Visitors can hike through the lush forest to reach the falls and enjoy a refreshing swim in the pool at its base. The surrounding scenery is truly awe-inspiring, especially during the rainy season when the waterfall is at its fullest.

3. Yubu Island

Yubu Island is a tiny islet located off the coast of Iriomote and is accessible via a short boat ride. This picturesque island is known for its population of adorable, small wild boars called "Yayoi" that freely roam the island. Visitors can stroll along the sandy beaches, admire the coral reefs, and get up close with the friendly Yayoi.

Water Activities

Thanks to its pristine waters, Iriomote offers a wide range of water activities for visitors to enjoy. Whether you prefer a relaxing coastal cruise or an adrenaline-pumping adventure, there's something for everyone. Here are some popular water activities in Iriomote:

1. Snorkeling and Diving

With its vibrant coral reefs and diverse marine life, Iriomote is a paradise for snorkelers and scuba divers. Explore the underwater world filled with colorful fish, sea turtles, and unique coral formations. Popular snorkeling and diving spots include Nakama River Mouth, Manta Way, and Barasu Island.

2. Kayaking

Kayaking is a popular way to explore the mangrove forests that surround Iriomote. Glide through narrow waterways, marvel at the intricate root systems, and spot native wildlife like water monitor lizards and various bird species. There are guided kayak tours available for beginners as well as experienced kayakers.

3. Stand-Up Paddleboarding

For a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure, try stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) in Iriomote's calm and clear waters. Stand atop a paddleboard and smoothly glide along the coastline while enjoying panoramic views of the island. It's a great way to experience Iriomote's serenity up close.

Local Cuisine

No trip to Iriomote is complete without indulging in its delicious local cuisine. Here are some must-try dishes and ingredients unique to the island:

  • Yaeyama Soba: A specialty noodle dish made from flour and topped with tender, stewed pork and local vegetables.
  • Agar: Iriomote is known for producing high-quality agar, which is used as a gelling agent in various desserts and dishes such as agar jelly.
  • Sata andagi: These deep-fried doughnuts are a popular snack in Okinawan cuisine, including Iriomote. They are typically made with sugar, flour, and eggs.
  • Turmeric Rice: Made with locally grown turmeric, this fragrant and vibrant yellow rice is a staple in Iriomote's cuisine.

Getting Around

Iriomote's compact size makes it easy to explore by various modes of transportation. Here are the main options for getting around the island:

1. Rental Car or Scooter

Renting a car or scooter offers the most flexibility for exploring Iriomote at your own pace. Several rental companies operate on the island, providing a convenient way to reach different attractions and scenic spots.

2. Local Bus

Iriomote has a reliable bus network that connects various parts of the island. It is a cost-effective option for those who prefer public transportation. However, bus service frequencies may be limited, so it's advisable to check the schedules in advance.

3. Bicycle Rental

For a more eco-friendly option, consider renting a bicycle to explore Iriomote. Many accommodations offer bicycle rental services, allowing visitors to leisurely pedal around and discover hidden gems off the beaten path.


Iriomote is an island paradise that offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, thrilling adventures, and unique cultural experiences. Whether you choose to hike through lush forests, swim in crystal-clear waters, or savor local delicacies, Iriomote is sure to captivate your senses. So pack your bags, immerse yourself in the tranquility of Iriomote, and create memories that will last a lifetime.