Japan’s Last Frontier: Iriomote Jima
“I like to be grounded by nature, go hiking… go to an isolated island that’s not glamorous and touristy at all.” – Cote de Pablo
Iriomote Jima (西表島) Island
Covered by dense jungles and mangrove forests, and surrounded by beautiful coral reefs – Iriomote Jima is one of the best destinations in Japan for nature lovers and adventure seekers.
Iriomote is the southernmost island of Japan, close to Taiwan – between East China Sea and Philippine Sea.
The island is famous for the elusive Iriomote cat – a nocturnal wild cat, found only on Iriomote.
Coming from bustling Tokyo via Nagoya through Ishigaki, undeveloped Irimote Jima is an oasis of tranquility. The beaches are deserted. The sea is crystal clear, even in low deep water you are surrounded by colorful, exotic fish. Snorkeling and scuba diving in the sea, kayaking on the rivers, hiking in the mountains are some of the activities to enjoy on the island.
And where can you find an island with a star sand beach? The beach is Hoshizuna-no-hama and the sand grains are star-shaped! The sand is actually the skeletons of small sea organisms.
Beauty comes with a price. Poisonous creatures, like the Habu venomous snake, lurk outside or even in your hotel room! The hoteliers keep quite a thick book with photos of worms and snakes in case you have one of these creatures in your room. If this is the case, you will pinpoint the creature and the host will tell you if you have to worry or forget about it.
My roommate, an ugly looking, thick worm, appeared to be from the inoffensive list. So, sleep well and hope the worm will take care of his own business!
My room at the Hoshi-No-Suna Pension was overlooking the ocean from a cliff. Beautiful view!
Fish and sashimi is served at the nearby restaurant. Add a little bit (or more) of “Awamori” – the Okinawa famed and strong liquor – and you will have an unforgettable night!
Iriomote Jima Nature Photos
How to Get to Iriomote Jima
- Take a boat from Ishigaki Island
- Read more about Ishigaki Island
- Next trip: Yubu Jima Island