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Yaeyama Islands

2019-12-25

For winter vacation, I'm headed to the Yaeyama Islands, which are in the far SW of Okinawa, Japan.

12/25✈ Haneda → Ishigaki.🏨 Blue Cabin Ishigakijima
12/26⛴ Ishigaki → Ohara, Iriomote.🏠 Minshuku Yamaneko
12/27Iriomoate is island with one main road that goes along the eastern and northern coast. There's scuba diving in the north, but my minshuku is in the south, and without a rental car, there's no good way to get up there, and the rental cars are booked. Well, there's still plenty to do. I've been itching to run longer distances, and the roads and weather are great for this. There's a beach about six kilometers down one road, and one day I went on a long hike into the jungle. The elusive Iriomote wild cat was nowhere to be found, but I got a good view of a turtle crossing the road and a hawk soaring above the sugar cane fields.
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12/30⛴ Iriomote → Ishigaki.🏨 Cabin Hotel Mr. Kinjo in Ishigaki
12/31It was rainy the first two days on Ishigaki, but between window shopping near the port, going to a nearby limestone cave, and reading a book, things worked out faily well. On New Year's Eve, the rain finally stopped, and the next day I went for a hike to the highest point on the mountain, or so was the plan, but when I got to the trail head the weather had turned gray and misty, certainly not the conditions I'd prefer for jungle hikes, and I continued along the road south, through a nature preserve where a peacock awkwardly took flight when it caught sight of me, and eventually back to the center of town.🏨 Hotel Mr. Kinjo Suns in Ishigaki
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1/2I took the ferry to Taketomi Island for the morning. It's a small scenic island with nice beaches and traditional houses and streets lined with fences built from volcanic rocks.
1/3Ishigaki is famous for scuba diving. How many dives have I done in my life? I don't have my old log book, but thinking back, my parents and I took dive trips to Belize, Bonaire, Dominica, and maybe somewhere else, and my dad and I went to the Bahamas (a Miami-based live aboard) and Honduras (Roatan). Let's assume each trip involved at least ten dives. That plus the five dives I got in Bali in 2017 puts my total going into today at around sixty dives. That brings us to today, and today we did three dives. The first two were near Sand Point, Kuroshima. There were several lion fish, which I had never seen before, plus an assortment of sea cucumber, sea slugs, small colorful tetras and similar tropical fish. The third one, where two manta rays circled two meters above our heads for ten minutes, was off the coast of Aragusuku Island, a small island SE of Iriomote.
1/4Today was my second and final day of diving for this trip. We had the same crew and some of the same divers as yesterday. The first two dives, ε€§ε΄Žγƒ‰γƒ­γƒƒγƒ— and γ―γ‚“γ”γˆγƒͺーフ, were along the NW coast of Ishigaki. We went in search of sea turtles but didn't find any. I found a large shrimp that crawled out of its cave, and a few barracudas swam by in the distance. The guide showed me a little fish that swims along a thin ropey piece of coral. Our third dive was at a site called Black Pearl. It's a sandy bottom at around thirty feet, which the dive shop chose because they had some beginners doing a trial course. Thirty feet is fairly shallow, and you just don't use much air at that depth, so we took our time searching for strange and small sea life. We didn't find anything particularly rare, but the overall light and location was relaxing.
1/5On the last day I rented a scooter and rode around the island. It's a nice two-hour ride along the coast, or longer if you take stops.
1/6✈ Ishigaki → Haneda.

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