Have you heard of Iriomote? Japan’s wild, nature-filled island should be on your bucket list

The UNESCO World Heritage List now includes the remote Japanese island Iriomote.

Iriomote, which is located in the Okinawa prefecture of the East China Sea is made up 160 subtropical island – many of which are covered in dense rainforest. The archipelago is home to only 49 people, making it a great destination for those who want to escape the crowds in 2022.

Iriomote, which is located 40 minutes away from Ishigaki Island, the commercial center of the archipelago, is home to just over 2000 people.

Nature lovers’ paradise. More than 90% of the area is covered by tropical forest, including Japan’s largest mangrove rainforest.

We’ve collected the top places to see in this Japanese wilderness because there is so much beauty.

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What are Japan’s travel restrictions?

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Japan has banned all tourism. Currently, only students and business travelers from a few countries can visit Japan. Japan is currently closed to European and UK tourists.

Japan is expected to reopen to tourists by 2022. You can find more information and up-to-date updates.

What can I do at Iriomote Island

Iriomote has many great hiking trails. Many of them take you through unique and rare ecosystems. You can explore the forest to find hidden waterfalls or you can paddle along the coast in a kayak or canoe.

It’s important to be prepared if you plan on hiking in Iriomote. You should bring waterproofs because the island’s rainforest ecosystem and subtropical climate mean that it rains often.

Iriomote Island: What are the animals I can see?

Some endangered and rare animals can be found in Iriomote. The Iriomote wildcat, which was discovered for the first time in 1965, is found only on this island. It’s nocturnal, so chances of it being spotted are slim. Kishinoue’s Giant Skink, a species named after a Japanese biologist, might be more successful. It is only found in Japan’s archipelago or Miyako regions.

Other rare species include the crested serpent Eagle and the Chinese box Turtle.

Other rare species include the crested serpent Eagle and the Chinese box Turtle.

From April through June, if the island is visited after dark, the Yaeyama Hime fireflies will be visible. They light up the night sky, and mix with the stars.

Iriomote boat cruises

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Boating is the best way to see Iriomote.

The Urauchi River Jungle Cruise takes you along the longest river of the archipelago, and through the surrounding mangrove forests.

You can walk up from the drop-off point to see the Mariudo Waterfall viewing platform.

Iriomote: What beaches are there?

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The Iriomote coast is dotted with sandy beaches. Hoshinozuna Beach is the most well-known.

Hoshinozuna is a name that means “star-shaped sand” and refers to tiny star-shaped fossils on the beach. These are the remains single-celled organisms from millions of years ago.

Funauki Beach is the perfect place to find paradise if you are looking for it.

Funaki, a village with 50 residents, is isolated and has no roads to get in or out. You can access the beach only by boat from Shirahama Port. Ferries run a few times per day.

A trip to this area is worth it for its crystal-clear waters and golden sands. Just make sure that you get back on time.