In Japan, you could choose all kinds of various destinations. Some people rather the snow-capped mountains and plains of Hokkaido in winter, some other the lively big cities of Tokyo, Osaka or Nagoya, or even the oldest towns and sanctuaries lost in the deep countryside. A highly varied journey can be prepared ! But do not forget that Japan is also a subtropical country when you reach the southern islands of Okinawa. Even further south, near Taïwan, is Iriomote-jima island. This island is a paradise for anyone who love nature, full of wildlife and harbouring an extraordinary flora. The island doesn’t have an airport, so you could land at the airport of Ishigaki located east of Iriomote. From here, board a ferry from Ishigaki, it takes approximately 45 minutes to reach the coastline of Iriomote-jima. The round trip is about 2000 or 3000 yens.
On arrival, you will be amazed by the beauty of the coastline and the lush vegetation of the jungle stretching to the horizon. A wide range of activities is available : hiking, kayaking, scuba diving, a cruise through the mangroves. You could start visiting the Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park. It has been protected since 2007, and you will discover all the natural treasures of the island’s center, covered by lush jungle, magnificent waterfalls, a wild place where lives the Iriomote wildcat. It is quite rare to come across on your way. However, you will see many small carved statues in his honor.
The island is crossed by the Urauchi river which offers stunning scenery of mangroves at its mouth, and beautiful waterfalls in the inland. This itinerary is one of the most recommended. From the harbour of Uehara in the northern part of Iriomote, you could take a bus to Urauchi River, the longest river in Okinawa. You will enjoy a boat ride through the mangroves to the starting point of the trail into the jungle. Once ashore, it takes only 30 minutes walk to reach the beautiful waterfalls of Maryudo and 10 minutes away, the waterfalls of Kanpirei surrounded by a beautiful green landscape. You will find along the river, many kayaking opportunities on the river. The flora includes a wide range of species of plants and trees as the bougainvillea, orchids, hibiscus, fig trees, or the gajumaru, tropical tree with long roots that is found everywhere in Okinawa. According to legend, this tree contains the spirit of the forest.
To enjoy snorkeling in this tropical area, go to a few minutes by boat from northern coast of Iriomote to the tiny coral island of Barasu surrounded by an exceptional maritime fauna. You will swim in the turquoise waters with sea turtles to the sound of the majestic whalesong. Stay on-sit at dusk to admire a beautiful sunset.
You will also find beautiful beaches by visiting the Yubu island located near the west coast. An unusual mode of transport will be waiting for you, namely carts pulled by buffaloes that driving you to the beautiful sandy beaches !