Kuroshima & Aragusuku Island of the Yaeyama Islands

Located about 19km from Ishigaki Island, Kuro Island (also known as Kuroshima) is a charming, sparsely populated cattle ranch island. With a picture-perfect 12km perimeter, this flat coral island invites a slow paced cycle on a rent-a-bike, while taking in the beautiful surrounding sea. A few days is enough on this island for most people.

Aragusuku Island (Panari, as it is known in dialect) comprises two islands, Kamiji and Shimoji. Just a few families still live on Kamiji keeping up their ancestral lands, while Shimoji Island is entirely given over to cow pasturage, being almost flat and made of emerged coral reefs. Although once many people used to live there, in recent years depopulation is advancing.

We recommend the snorkelling or diving tour operated by Kuroki-san, an island local. He takes small groups by boat to the best place for the day in Sekisei lagoon (depending on the tide, wind and clarity conditions). It’s ¥7000 for a 5-hour snorkelling tour, which includes lunch and a walking tour of Aragusuku Island.

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 beach-entry points, but a boat-entry tour 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)Size10 sq km (Kuroshima), 1.76 sq km (Kamiji Island), 1.58 sq km (Shimoji Island)PopulationApproximately 200 (Kuroshima), Under 10 (Aragusuku Islands)AccessKuroshima is accessible by ferry which runs frequently between Ishigaki Island and Kuroshima. It takes 25 minutes. The Aragusuku Islands are accessible by boat tour or taxi-boat from Iriomote or KuroshimaGetting aroundBicycle rental (Kuroshima), on foot (Aragusuku Islands)