Top view of Ishigaki seascape

Islands of Japan – Yaeyama Islands Travel Guide

This post was last updated on February 1st, 2020 at 06:24 pm

The best sandy beaches in the country, waterfalls, mountains and subtropical jungles in the interior regions, and beautiful clear water. The Yaeyama Islands offer the best snorkeling and scuba diving locations in Japan. In addition, it has one of the last intact jungles. It is no wonder that people from all over Japan come here to relax.


Yaeyama Islands – Most Beautiful Islands in Japan

The Yaeyama Islands, together with the Amami islands, are perhaps the most beautiful islands around Japan and the surrounding area. Unfortunately, there are no ferries that go there so you will have to take a flight to the Yaeyama Islands.


This is possible from Naha or from Tokyo or Osaka. The good news is that you can easily visit three or four islands during your stay on the Yaeyama Islands.


The islands are known for their great scuba diving locations.


Paradise in Japan

The Yaeyama Islands are some 430 kilometers south of Okinawa. The funny thing is that they are closer to Taiwan and China than they are to Japan. They are 3,000 kilometers away from Hokkaido, so those who manage to end up here have already had a nice journey.


Once you get there you will soon forget the trip you took to get there because it is a true paradise. Certainly for those who enjoy scuba diving, snorkeling, hiking or kayaking.


Image: Tropical Japanese beach, Ishigaki Island, Okinawa
Beautiful view of Ishigaki Island


The Most Beautiful Beaches on the Yaeyama Islands

The Yaeyama islands contain a total of 14 islands. They are all known for their beautiful nature and especially for the wonderful beaches and a special underwater world. If you are lucky enough to visit the Yaeyama Islands you will almost think you are in the Maldives rather than in Japan.


They are typical relaxation islands where hanging in your hammock is your only obligation. As mentioned, the best option is to come here to fly from Tokyo to Ishigaki Airport.


How to get to the Yaeyama Islands

No boats go to these islands. You can only fly there. If you fly to Yaeyama you will arrive at Ishigaki-Jima, the most densely populated island of Yaeyama. And although Ishigaki-Jima is certainly not a wrong place to stay, we recommend traveling further to the other islands.


These are just that little bit nicer. Within 15 minutes you will get to Taketomi-Jima where you will find a lot of tradition and a little further you will have Iriomote-Jima which is almost completely covered with jungle.


Other (more remote) islands are Hateruma-Jima and Yonaguni-Jima.


TIP – Airline tickets are certainly not cheap. You will have to pay around $180 for a single ticket from Tokyo.


Image of: Aerial view of Tropical lagoon of Ishigaki island
The tropical lagoon of Ishigaki island looks really beautiful


Best Time to Visit the Yaeyama Islands

As with the rest of Japan, the best time to visit these islands are spring (roughly March to May) and autumn (September to November). During these months you have less rainfall and the temperature fluctuates around 20 degrees Celsius.


Summer is basically a good time but it can get very hot and rainy. In addition, you are more likely to have typhoons that can cause major damage between June and October.


Temperature and Rainfall in Yaeyama
Average temperatures and rainfall on the Yaeyama Islands


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