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Ishigaki Island:

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Location: Ishigaki Island (Japan)
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On this page you can see an overview of the location, including interactive maps, climate data, and photos.
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Ishigaki island, located in the western part of the Okinawan chain, is a great place to base yourself for diving in Japan. The island has the pace of life of south east asia but the standard of living of the rest of Japan.

Most dive sites are within 15 minutes of the island so it is usual to dive once, head back to the island to chill out, then dive again, have some lunch and then third dive for those interested. Fishes likely to be encountered are the usual reef fishes but plenty of rarer species such as black spotted stingray, dartfish, orangutan crab, frogfish, leaf fish, cornet fish, filefish and MANTA. This must be one of the best places in the world to see manta rays. Reports in winter of 'dozens of manta a dive' trailing down to 'a few each dive' in spring time. Summer tends to get fewer and then picking up again in atutumn. This obviously bring the attention of many other divers, so manta scramble (the main manta dive point) gets very busy. Autumn and winter diving requires a 5mm full wet suit but spring and summer that can be reduced to 3mm.

There are two main areas to base yourself. Kabira Bay is very quiet and you really need to go full board in that area as there are very few places to eat at night. On the northern side of the island so very close to numerous dive sites including manta scramble. Dive centres here usually go to manta scramble at least once a day so can get tedious (twice is enough for most people). The other area is the city itself. Lots of dive centres available but few English speaking staff. On the southern side of the island so about 45 minute boat ride to manta scramble. However there are plenty of dive sites within 20 minute boat ride from this area. Lots of places to go out in the evening for diner or drinks so no need to go full board (however there are many cheap full board options so it is probably cheaper to go full board).

There are direct flights to Ishigaki from Osaka or Tokyo. They tend to be expensive but deals are available. The cheapest way is to actually join a Japanese tour but this requires Japanese ability to understand their websites! A Japanese tour companies return flights from Tokyo start at about 350 USD, direct from JAL or ANA is probably double that. Once in Ishigaki most dive shops will pick you up from the airport, although taxis are readily available and trustworthy.

Ishigaki is a good place to base yourself to go to other islands in the area. Taketomi and Kuroshima and nice day trips with good snorkelling and relaxing to rent a cycle and cruise around. Slightly further is Iriomote island which is well worth going to for a few nights. Great mangrove kayak tours and jungle trekking on this heavily forested island. Beware of the deadly 'habu' snake, one of the world's most poisonous. Iriomote also has some excellent with some lovely soft corals at shallow depths.

Further afield is Yonaguni island, the westernmost point of Japan. It is a 30 minute plane ride or a 4 hour ferry ride. Yonaguni is famous for the underwater 'ruins' called Iseki point. It is still argued whether this recently found dive site is actually man made formations or natural. Easiest to be dived in winter when the wind is northerly so does not affect this site. In winter Yonaguni is also famous for it hammerhead sharks. Almost guaranteed to encounter large shoals everyday.

As with most of Japan Ishigaki and the surrounding islands are not easy places to travel if you are vegeterian, the concept has yet to catch on here. Diving will cost about 100 USD for 2 boat dives (including lunch and weights but no rental gear). Rental gear tends to be good quality but expensive.
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Climate Data:
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Most visitors thought
Ishigaki Island was:
Ranked as Fantastic by independant reviews Ranked as Fantastic by independant reviews Ranked as Fantastic by independant reviews Ranked as Fantastic by independant reviews Ranked as Fantastic by independant reviews
Non diving activities: Some things to see and do.
Language: Japanese
Money: Japanese Yen
Stability: No travelling problems expected
More Information: Country Bio from Lonely Planet

Rating: Ranked as Excellant by independant reviewsRanked as Excellant by independant reviewsRanked as Excellant by independant reviewsRanked as Excellant by independant reviewsRanked as Excellant by independant reviews95%
Highest ranked My Blue Planet photo shared by Sushi.
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Marine Sightings section)

Basking Shark
No Some Always
Beauforts Crocodilefish
No Some Always
Blue Ringed Octopus
No Some Always
Bluespotted Ray
No Some Always
Bottlenose Dolphin
No Some Always
Clown Anemonefish
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No Some Always
Emperor Angelfish
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Giant Octopus
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Gray Whale
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Great Barracuda
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Great Hammerhead
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Green Sea Turtle
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Grey Reef Shark
No Some Always
Hawksbill Sea Turtle
No Some Always
Leatherback Sea Turtle
No Some Always
Manta Ray
No Some Always
Marbled Ray
No Some Always
Pilot Whale
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Potato Grouper
No Some Always
Scorpion Fish
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Sea Otter
No Some Always
Spotted Eagle Ray
No Some Always
Steller Sea Lion
No Some Always
No Some Always
Whitetip Reef Shark
No Some Always
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