Iriomote Island of the Yaeyama Islands

For our Iriomote-jima travel guide, please click here.

Iriomote Island (also known as Iriomote-jima) can be classified as one of Japan’s last frontiers, as is often referred to as the Galápagos of East Asia together with Tokyo’s Ogasawara Islands due to its untouched tropical rainforest with many endemic species (both listed as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site). Mostly unexplored, Iriomote-jima is the largest of the Yaeyama Islands and is covered with lush, impenetrable jungle and abundant mangroves. It is surrounded by picture-perfect ocean, both from above and below with its colorful coral reefs, and attracts tourists with a spirit of adventure. 

Iriomote is an amazing island, but it’s not for everyone. It’s a real paradise for those with a sense of adventure! Please be aware that Iriomote is 90% covered by dense rainforest (with more tropical plant species than subtropical, unlike Yanbaru subtropical forest on Okinawa Main Island), meaning that it rains a lot all year round! We strongly recommend taking wet weather gear and being prepared to get out and explore no matter the weather.

About the Yaeyama Island Group:
The Yaeyama Islands have one of the largest coral reef systems in Asia. These islands are located near the Tropic of Cancer; more south than Taipei and closer to the northern islands of the Philippines than to Okinawa Main Island. If you like jungles as well as beaches, we highly recommend the Yaeyama Island group. The Yaeyama Islands are also perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving. There are many off-the-beach spots, but a tour by boat with a local guide is the best, as they know the finest points of the day, depending on the weather and water clarity conditions, and your own preferences, ie. if you want to see sea turtles, manta rays or specific coral, or many different types of coral, etc.


PrefectureOkinawa (Yaeyama Island Group)Size289 sq kmPopulationApproximately 2,000AccessFerries run frequently between Ishigaki Island and Iriomote Island northern Uehara Port (50 mins), and Iriomote Island southern Ohara Port (40 mins).Getting aroundCar rental or rely on your accommodation for port pick-up/drop-off and tour companies for daily pick-up/drop-off service