The Island Hopping itinerary begins and ends in the Tokyo metropolis providing a striking introduction and finale to contrast with the rest of your Japanese island adventure. Flying more than 2000 km south of the capital, Ishigaki is the gateway to the Yaeyama subtropical island chain. With palm tree lined sandy beaches to relax on, a mountainous interior to discover and diverse coral and marine life including huge majestic Manta to snorkel and dive with, Ishigaki is a world away from the distant capital city.
20 minutes on a ferry transports you back in time as you visit the tiny island of Taketomi where the main transport across the island's five square
kilometres is water-buffalo drawn cart. Preserved traditional Ryukyu-style villas are dotted across the island with distinctive red tile roofs, garden walls made of coral and Shisa lion-like statues protecting from evil spirits, a common sight across the Okinawa region.
The largest but least developed island in the chain is Iriomote. Covered in wild jungle and mangrove forests, the island boasts a rich diversity of flora
and fauna including the Iriomote Lynx, an extremely rare (and rarely seen) mountain cat. Easy kayaking up the rivers cutting into the dense jungle and
trekking to the top of waterfalls for views across this stunning national park are great ways to appreciate this subtropical gem. Less strenuous options
include taking a water buffalo ride across a shallow sand bar to visit Yubu Island's botanical gardens, whereas Fanauki, one of the most remote villages in the country, offers the chance to soak in Japan's most westerly hot spring bath overlooking the jungle.
Your stop in Naha, the capital of Okinawa main island, brings you back to the modern world. Formally the centre of the ancient Ryukyu Kingdom, Naha is now a city of 700,000 people with bustling markets, restaurants and a lively night life. We recommend a visit to see the impressive Chinese influenced architecture of Shuri Castle and perhaps even a cooking class learning to prepare Okinawa's ubiquitous goya, a bitter green gourd.
Before you return to Tokyo you'll make a final island stop in the Kerama Islands. The Kerama chain spreads over 22 islands, just 20 miles south-west of the mainland Okinawa. Only Tokashiki, Zamami, Aka and Geruma islands are inhabited, but all are home to white sandy beaches, lush green interior and surrounded by translucent subtropical waters with Okinawan culture flowing throughout. The Keramas offer some of the best snorkelling in the world with untouched coral, diverse marine life and stunning visibility often exceeding 30 metres. The waters also invite migrating Humpback Whale between January and April which offer yet more natural beauty to these beautiful subtropical islands.
With a cold glass of Okinawa's awamori in hand and a plate of fresh sashimi you couldn't ask for a better end to your island hopping trip.
Twin: US$2574 Single: US$3580
Twin: US$4339 Single: US$6072
- 12 night's accommodation
- Breakfast every day
- All transport between destinations in Japan
- Airport transfers on arrival and departure
- Meet & greet upon arrival
- Full day nature tour on Iriomote Island (kayak & trek)
- Tokyo transport card with 2,500yen of credit
- InsideJapan Tours' info-pack
- International Flights
- Local transport (buses, subways, taxis) at any destination unless otherwise specified
- Any entrance fees including those for shrines, temples and museums
- Baggage handling - you will be expected to carry your own bags for the duration of the trip
No seasonal supplement
Black Out Dates
There are no black out dates for this trip. However, please be aware that at the busiest times of the year the named accommodation may not be available and in this case the price can not be guaranteed. However, we will always do our best to match the prices you see here as closely as possible
Day by Day Itinerary
Day 1 Tokyo
Arriving into the Tokyo Metropolis, you will take a shuttle to your hotel in the old Asakusa district of the city where you will spend the first two nights. The area is known for the Sensoji temple and the Nakamise Dori which leads up to it with its various vendors and surrounding shops. Just a short train ride away lies the neon buzz that gives the city its reputation contrasting the traditional with the sleek and modern. This is a great first introduction to Japanese culture and a contrast of things to come in the islands.
Day 3 to Day 5 Ishigaki
You will head to Tokyo’s Haneda airport for the flight to the sub-tropics. Your flight will take you almost 1300 miles and 3 hours direct to Ishigaki island – your first stop island hopping in Japan. Ishigaki is the most populated of the Yaeyama chain, but the gateway to the other Yaeyama islands. You will jump in the taxi which will whisk you away to your beach cottage on the coast….although the pace of life here is considerably different to that of Tokyo. Your cottage sits just a short stroll from the beach. This is a great place to relax and soak up the island atmosphere or a great base from which to discover the island, its mountainous interior, coral rich warm sea and the majestic Manta that frequent the waters around the island.
Day 6 Taketomi
You will take a ferry from Ishigaki port to nearby Taketomi island today. The island is only 20 minutes away but is a journey back into traditional Ryukyu island life. This tiny island has an area of 5.4sqm and is best navigated by water buffalo drawn cart in true Taketomi style. Take a look around the preserved traditional red tiled villages or head to the beautiful beaches with its perfectly formed star-shaped sand particles that fill it. You will enjoy uninterrupted starlight as the evening falls along with some good food from your traditional Taketomi Villa. This is island life at its most laid back.
Day 7 to Day 8 Iriomote
Jumping on the ferry back to Ishigaki you will head on to the largest but least inhabited island of the Yaeyama’s. Iriomote is covered in jungle and is even home to a wild lynx that was thought to be extinct until 1967. Although you will most likely not see the Lynx, the jungle is covered in rare flora and fauna protected by its national park status. You will never be too far away from the warm sea reminding you of your beautiful island setting, great for snorkelling or plain relaxing. On your second day, you will be met by your guide who will take you on a gentle kayaking trip through mangrove lined rivers into Irionmote’s dense jungle interior. Your guide will also lead you on a pleasant trek from the river up to the waterfall discovering some of the ‘local inhabitants’ along the way. Your stay on Iriomote is a taste of the wild but beautiful natural beauty that the subtropics have to offer.
Day 9 Naha
Taking the ferry back over to Ishigaki, you will then make your way to the airport from where you will take a 1 hour flight to the main Okinawa island. The most populated of the Okinawa islands, the island’s capital of Naha is home to around 700,000 people. The impressive Shuri Castle is a reminder that the city was the centre of the Ryukyu Kingdom for hundreds of years. You will stay in the centre of the city close to the lively Kokusai Dori area of the city which will be in considerable contrast to Iriomote island life. A night in the comparatively lively capital of Naha will give you an alternative taste of Ryukyu Island life.
Day 10 to Day 11 Zamami
After a night in Naha, you will make the short trip to the port for the ferry to Zamami island. Zamami is about an hour away from Naha and is the quintessential subtropical island with its white sand beaches and slow pace of life. You will be staying in a small family run Japanese style Pension on the island located in Zamami village and a short walk from the port. You may choose to relax and perhaps snorkel amongst the translucent blue sea amongst the varied coral and marine life for your couple of days on the island. You may wish to jump in a water taxi to nearby Akajima and Geruma Islands which are just 15 minutes and 300yen away with quiet beaches and primeval forests best explored on foot or by bike. From January to April the waters also attract Humpback Whale which provide for a stunning natural spectacle adding to the natural charm of the Kerama Islands. If you choose the upgrade package then you will stay at a beachside hotel on nearby Toshiki Island instead of Zamami.
Day 12 Tokyo
Time to head back to mainland Okinawa and catch a flight back to the Tokyo Metropolis – a far cry from the Ryukyu culture of the islands. Your Japan finale will be spent in the exciting district of Shinjuku which is arguably the beating heart of Tokyo with its bright neon, restaurants, shops and people. This is a great place to be based for your final night in Japan.
Day 13 Depart
Alas time to depart. Your airport transfer is included.
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|Standard Price:||US$2574 (Single Price: US$3580)|
|Upgrade Price:||US$4339 (Single Price: US$6072)|
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Single pp US$0
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Richmond Hotel Asakusa
Nagura Village Cottages
Iriomote Eco Village
Daiwa Roynet Hotel Naha-Kokusaidori
Guest House (JP)