Adventures in the Yaeyama Islands



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Japan’s spectacular Yaeyama Islands lie at the southwestern tip of the country's island chain. 

A world away from the capital city, here you'll discover pristine beaches, crystal clear aquamarine seas surrounding islands of jungles and mountains that uniquely define the character of these sparsely-populated outposts. 

A visit to the Yaeyama Islands offers an experience unlike any other. 

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Adventures In The Yaeyama Islands
by Rob Dyer

The Ryukyu archipelago

You might not be familiar with the Yaeyama Islands. They're part of the Ryukyu archipelago of islands stretching southwest from Kyushu, all the way down to Taiwan.

The better-known Okinawa is part of the Ryukyu chain. Well, the Yaeyama Islands lie beyond that. Ishigaki, the main administrative island for the group, is a 1 hour flight from Okinawa.

VIDEO: Okinawan Folk Music, Ishigaki Island

The 12 Yaeyama Islands

12 main islands make up the group:

  • Aragusuku
  • Hateruma
  • Hatoma
  • Iriomote
  • Ishigaki
  • Kayama
  • Kohama
  • Kuroshima
  • Sotobanari
  • Taketomi
  • Yonaguni
  • Yubu

See: Iriomote, Yubujima and Taketomi Triple Island Tour HERE


A 3-hour flight from Tokyo

To give you some idea of just how remote these subtropical islands are, Tokyo is a 3 hour flight away at best. While on a clear day Taiwan is visible from Yonaguni Island.

Or, to put it another way, Taiwan is just 67 miles from Yonaguni Island, whilst Tokyo is more than 1,200 miles away.

Ishigaki The Real Japan Rob Dyer

Ishigaki island makes a great base for explaoring the rest of the Yaeyama Islands

Unspoilt isolation

If you're looking for unspoilt isolation, beaches, waterfalls, crystal clear seas, mangrove forests, water buffalo pulling wooden carts, tradition, and a culture that's barely changed for hundreds of years, then this is the place for you.

Swimming or diving in the coral reefs found here you'll come across dolphins, sea turtles, manta rays and white sharks.

See: Mangrove Canoeing and Jungle Trekking on Iriomote HERE

Yaeyama Islands Ishigaki The Real Japan Rob Dyer

The seas around the Yaeyama Islands are stunning

Guided tour: Scuba Diving Tour on Ishigaki Island


A different language

They even have their own languages - Yonaguni and Yaeyama. Around these parts, Japanese is the second language.

They even have their own languages - Yonaguni and Yaeyama

Where to stay in the Yaeyama Islands

VIDEO: Water Buffalo Cart Crossing to Yubu Island

Yaeyama Islands Travel Planning Services

Have some questions about exploring Japan's Yaeyama Islands? Want help planning a Yaeyama itinerary? I offer some Travel Planning Services that you might like to take a look at.

My popular Travel Planning Calls are ideal if you have a few unanswered questions about a trip you are planning, or would like feedback and suggestions on an itinerary you are building.  Learn More HERE.

Further Japan travel guides, books and checklists are available in The Real Japan Travel Store.

Location Map

Have you been to the Yaeyama Islands? If so please leave a comment below.


Travelling In Japan When You Don't Speak The Language

If you want to travel in Japan but don't speak the language, check out my guide book How To Travel In Japan Without Speaking Japanese.

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About the Author

A writer and publisher from England, Rob has been exploring Japan’s islands since 2000. He specialises in travelling off the beaten track, whether on remote atolls or in the hidden streets of major cities. He’s the founder of

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Yaeyama Islands Tours

Scuba Diving Tour on Ishigaki Island HERE

Iriomote, Yubujima and Taketomi Triple Island Tour HERE

Ishigaki Half-Day Snorkeling Tour HERE

Mangrove Canoeing and Jungle Trekking on Iriomote HERE

Half-Day Bus Tour of Ishigaki HERE

Discover more about the Yaeyama Islands HERE

Browse accommodation in Yaeyama on HERE

Further Reading

12 Must-Try Outdoor Activities In Japan

Discover Okinawa: Japan's Subtropical Paradise Unveiled

Discover Okinawan Food: Japan’s Life-Giving Diet

Driving in Japan: Kyushu or Okinawa?

Kayaking and Trekking on Iriomote Island

More Destinations

The Real Japan Destinations Travel Hub

Japan Travel Guide Books

How to Travel in Japan Without Speaking Japanese

Planning A Trip To Japan

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