Top 10 Tourist Attractions & Best Things to Do in Ishigaki-jima Island, Okinawa

The world renowned Okinawa attracts not only people from the mainland of Japan but also people from all over the world. It consists of over 350 islands and one of the most beautiful islands is called Ishigaki. There is a direct flight to Ishigaki from the mainland and it has been a popular holiday destination for years. It is a tropical island stranded by beautiful oceans and lagoons with many corals. Unlike the mainland, you will see some exotic culture and foreign landscape. I will show you the 10 places you cannot miss on this page when you visit this eccentric resort island.

1. Sabitci Cave in Ibaruma

1. Sabitci Cave in Ibaruma
photo by frombakertofaker   /   embedded from Instagram

It is not as dynamic as other stalactites caves but Sabiti cave is famous for its quaint character. It was created by the seafloor uplift 370 million years ago. There is a pond at the entrance where you may meet a massive eel if you are lucky.

You will see quite a few locally made “Yaeyama Ware” urns between stalactites and stalagmites. As this cave used to be used as a fridge in the olden days, these urns were used for salting pork to preserve it.

Some were used to keep ashes for the dead. The tunnel is not long but there are steps to walk around it. This is perfect for busy visitors. Beware of bats!

Name: Sabiti Cave in Ibaruma
Address:188-44, Ibarama, Ishigaki, Okinawa
Opening hour: 9:00 – 18:00
Open throughut the year
Car parking: Free 15 spaces
Access: 40 min from Ishigaki Airport by car

2. Tourinji temple

2. Tourinji temple
photo by shibushibu24   /   embedded from Instagram

Torinji temple has survived through a tsunami, WWII and many typhoons. Now it is the oldest wooden built temple in Okinawa. Some statues survived and have been registered as national treasures.

You can see the suffering on the statues of the red muscular guardians of Buddha. The reddish colour of the temple is so different from the ones on the mainland. Don’t forget to stop by the statue of Jiso, a children’s guardian, with a baby in his arm.

Name: Torinji temple
Address: 285, Ishigaki, Okinawa
Opening hours: Open all day (Only outside building)
Fee: Free
Holiday; none
Car Parking: yes
Access: 30 min from Ishigaki Airport by car

3. Miyaradunchi

3. Miyaradunchi
photo by higrush   /   embedded from Instagram

Ryukyu is an old name for Okinawa. This authentic house, with a red slate roof building, was built for the head of Ishigaki region about 200 years ago. This is one of few old houses left on Ishigaki Island.

It is located just next to a row of modern houses. Someone is still living there but you can walk around to see parts of the house and the traditional garden. You can see plants you would never see on the mainland.

The stone walls around the house have survived typhoons with wind speeds up to more than 80m/h on many occasions.

Name: Miyaradunchi
Address: 178, Ohkawa, Ishigaki, Okinawa
Opening Hours: 9:00 – 17:00
Closed on Tuesdays

4. Ishigakijima Astronomical Observatory

4. Ishigakijima Astronomical Observatory
photo by pocky20120503   /   embedded from Instagram

After a night out, take a look at the sky. You may be able to see one of the most beautiful night skies you’ve ever seen. Ishigaki is famous for its starry night as the air above is less affected by the jet stream than other areas.

As it is so beautiful, the largest astronomical telescope in southern Japan is installed in the Ishigakijima Astronomical Observatory.

You can get close to the telescope called “Murigabushi (Subaru)” which is just like the one in Hawaii and also experience 4D2U (4 dimensional digital universe) on a 200-inch screen. Enjoy your trip to the end of the universe!

Name: Ishigaki Astronomical Observatory
Address: 1024-1, Arakawa, Ishigaki, Okinawa
Opening hours: 10:00 – 16:30
Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays
Car Parking: yes – free of charge
Access(1): 40 min from Bainusima Ishigaki Air Port by car
Access(2): 20 min from Ferry Terminal in Ishigaki by car

5. Ishigakijima Stalactites Cave

5. Ishigakijima Stalactites Cave
photo by monpink11   /   embedded from Instagram

Walking on a path with tropical flowers on both sides, you will be welcomed by the exotically designed gate to the cave. Although the whole length of the cave is nearly 2 miles, only 720 yards is open to the public, Yet it has a lot to show.

Beautifully illuminated, this cave makes you feel like you are in a palace with its grand amount of space. It is the Perfect hideout to avoid the humid air in summer. You can see fossils as old as 200,000 years old.

The restaurant attached offers Okinawa’s traditional food. It is definitely worth getting the original Awamori spirit – you might think it’s better than Gin!

Name: Ishigaki Stalactites Cave
Address: 1666, Ishigaki, Okinawa
Open hours: 9:00 – 18:30
Fee: 1080 yen entry fee
Car Parking: yes
Access(1): 10 min from Ferry terminal in Ishigaki via Yoshiwara West bound
Access(2): 30 min from Ishigaki New Air Port by car

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6. Fukidogawa River

6. Fukidogawa River
photo by _yukiko_._   /   embedded from Instagram

Not only its breathtaking beaches but also Ishigaki is well-known for its marine creatures. Fukidogawa river is located in the northern part of the island among the Rhizophoraceae plant community.

In addition to admiring the stunning scenery, you can go river kayaking, snorkelling and trekking, Meet creatures like crabs and mudskippers in and out of the water. You don’t even need to go deep in the water to see them.

Seeing the sunset from a kayak is absolutely amazing. There are a few fruit plantations where you can eat extremely fresh fruits and vegetable.

Name: Fukidougawa River
Address: Nosoko, Ishigaki, Okinawa
Car Parking: yes
Access: 45 min from the city by car

7. Shiraho Beach

7. Shiraho Beach
photo by lillytime.29   /   embedded from Instagram

Ishigaki is surrounded by coral lagoons. Among these, this Shiraho Beach is the access to the treasure of Corals. The lagoon is heaven for divers. Despite its fame, there isn’t much around the beach and you can tell the nature is well protected.

You can go snorkelling from the beach and also go on a boat a little further out . Some of the corals you see are very rare and locals are helping each other to preserve the nature.

It’s not a sandy beach. There are small pieces of coral everywhere so don’t take your shoes off!

Name: Shiraho Beech
Address: Shiraho, Ishigaki, Okinawa
Car Parking: 6 free spaces
Access: 15min from Ishigaki Airport via Route390 towards Shiraho by car

8. Cape Ongazaki

8. Cape Ongazaki

A white light house on a green hill next to a beautiful ocean with a blue sky – it cannot be more picturesque. This is the place where you can really see what Ishigaki is offering. You can see all over Ishigaki and some other islands on the sea if you are lucky.

The flowers and bushes around the cape are so pretty. If you look down the cliff, you see the powerful water splashing against it. Take a taxi if you don’t have a car, it is not too far from downtown.

→The 10 Best Places for Stargazing in Okinawa, Japan

Name: Ongazaki
Address: Sakieda, Ishigaki, Okinawa
Parking: free spaces for 10 cars
Access: 25 min from the city by car

9. Yonehara Beach

9. Yonehara Beach

Walking towards the white sandy beach from the car park, dip your feet into the clear water and continue on walking. You will be welcomed by friendly colourful fish within 10m from the beach.

You don’t even need a snorkel to see the beautiful corals. If you do decide to go snorkelling, you will be taken into a world like “finding Nemo”.

The water is so clear, the fish so breathtaking, you will forget time. The beach has only a basic facility and is very well preserved, Suitable for families.

→The 10 Best Beaches You Must Visit in Okinawa, Japan

Name: Yonehara beach
Address: Yonehara, Ishigaki, Okinawa
Parking: Free 5 spaces and some paying spaces
Access: 30 min from the city by car
Nearby souvenir shops: yes
Restaurant: no (only kiosk)

10. Kabira Bay

10. Kabira Bay

Located as part of a national park, Kabira Bay has been nominated one of the top 100 sceneries of Japan. You cannot stand on the nearby hills without being mesmerised with the contrast of white sand, turquoise sea water and dense green vegetation.

Unfortunately swimming is not permitted as the current of the water is rather strong but you can play with the crayfish on the beach.

The best way to explore this bay is to go on a glass bottom boat, there are many on the beach. Under water is so amazing. Due to its absolutely stunning view, this Bay is the most visited place on the island.

Name: Kabira Bay
Address: 934, Kabira, Ishigaki, Ishigaki, Okinawa
Car Parking: free 15 spaces and some paying spaces
Access: 25 min from the city by car
Nearby souvenir shops: yes
Restaurant: yes
Note: swimming is not permitted due to the strong current of water

Enjoy Ishigaki with recommendations!

So what do you think? From a stunning white sandy beach to a mystical limestone cave, Ishigaki has a lot to offer on top of its coral beauty. There are so many places that you can just rock up to and sit down to enjoy the awesome views. Time stops here. Being away from the hustle and bustle, indulge yourself in the seas breeze. It’s definitely worth visiting when you travel to Okinawa.

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