Yaeyama Islands

At the back of a mangrove-lined bay called Funaura-wan, a few kilometres east of Uehara, you can make out the lovely Pinaisāra-no-taki, Okinawa’s highest waterfall at 55m. When the tide is right, you can paddle a kayak across the shallow lagoon and then follow the Hinai-gawa (on the left) to the base of the falls.

The short Māre-gawa (on the right) meets a trail where it narrows. This climbs to the top of the falls, from where there are superb views down to the coast. From the river, walk inland until you come to a pumping station, then turn around and take the right fork in the path. The walk takes less than two hours, and the river is great for a cooling dip.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to find a tour company that will rent you a kayak without requiring you to join a guided tour (half-/full days cost about ¥6000/10,000).

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Yaeyama Islands attractions

1. Mariyudō-no-taki

2.02 MILES

A trek upriver through the damp Iriomote forest leads to the lovely Mariyudō-no-taki, a series of low waterfalls.

2. Kanpire-no-taki

2.04 MILES

Kanpire-no-taki, a low-scale series of waterfalls, is the turnaround point for hikers who have travelled up the Urauchi-gawa.

3. Barasu-tō

3.67 MILES

Located off the north coast of Iriomote-jima is the unusual Barasu-tō, an islet formed entirely of bits of broken coral. In addition to the tiny island…

4. Tsuki-ga-hama

4.03 MILES

The best swimming beach on the island is Tsuki-ga-hama, a crescent-shaped yellow-sand beach at the mouth of the Urauchi-gawa on the north coast.

5. Hoshisuna-no-hama

4.64 MILES

If you're looking to do a bit of snorkelling, head to this beach on the northwestern tip of the island. The beach is named after its star sand, which…

6. Iriomote Wildlife Conservation Center

6.58 MILES

If you are at all intrigued by the yamaneko (Iriomote's endemic wildcat), whose critically endangered population hovers around 100, it's worth stopping by…

7. Ida-no-hama

6.76 MILES

From Shirahama, at the western end of the north coast road, there are four daily boats (¥500) to the isolated settlement of Funauki. Once there, it's a…

8. Kondoi Beach

16.67 MILES

Kondoi Beach, on the west coast, offers the best swimming on the island. At the entrance to the beach you'll find bike parking, picnic tables and toilets.