How to get around Iriomote-jima


We had so much we wanted to see and do on Iriomote Island...but we kinda failed at our plan. So, I wanted to write this post to help you out so you don’t make the same mistakes we did and you can actually enjoy the island.

First, to get there, you can only access it by ferry. The ferries run from Ishigaki island (you can get to Ishigaki by plane). Getting to the ferry terminal is easy and getting around the terminal is easy, too. Parking there only costs a small fee.

There are two main ports on Iriomote: Uehara to the North and Ohara to the South. We ferried into Uehara since there is more to do up there. The ferry is a quick 45 min trip, but unfortunately, almost no ferries to Iriomote are equipped to take vehicles.

So, we planned to get a rental car or scooters. It turns out, you have to book in advance, which makes sense, but we went during COVID-19 times (safely, of course) and thought there was no way they would be sold out of cars.

There is more bad news. The car rental place, very near the terminal called Southern, does not have posted hours and the owner was not there. If he is open, though, he has plenty of cars. The men across the street sent us down the road to a gas station that also does rental cars. I forget the name, and it doesn’t appear on Google Maps, either, but it’s between Robinson Hut Cafe and a supermarket. This place also had plenty of cars, and bikes and scooters, too, but they do not accept SOFA status licenses (This is what military members use when stationed overseas to prevent from getting a local license. We thought every rental place in Japan would accept them, most do, though). So, bring your international license if you have one and that should work at that place.

Surely, the third time's the charm, right? Not so much...we walked 2 km to yet another car rental place that was completely sold out. This one is called “Yamaneko” and just be sure to actually reserve it with them.

Moral of the story, there are actually a lot of options for transportation on Iriomote, just not very many that do walk-ins. I could not find that bit on the internet when doing my research before going, so I wanted to give you guys a heads up.

Thankfully, we caught the very sporadic bus. The bus only makes about two stops at each bus stop per day. We made it just in time for one of the stops and took it around to Star Sand Beach. Unfortunately, of course, we could not rely on the bus for any more transportation. So, we enjoyed a little time at the beach, hit up a super cute and tasty nearby cafe (it might still show up as a Yakiniku on Google Maps, but it is right across from Hoshizuna Beach), and then walked 3 km back to the ferry to head back to Ishigaki earlier.

Overall, I am really bummed we only got to see a small portion of Iriomote. I wish we would have done it right, but unfortunately we didn’t. Though, I hope this helps you do it right and I hope we get the chance to redeem our trip out there and make it back one day.

I hope this helps at least one person not make the mistakes we made.


Emma :)

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Hey there! Thanks for stopping by! 

My name is Emma. I am a 20-year-old new to this sustainable lifestyle. I am here to give you my tips as I learn them and help beginners begin their sustainable life...


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