Ishigaki Island is a gorgeous tropical paradise, geographically close to Taiwan but counting as one of the Yaeyama Islands of Okinawa, Japan. It is less crowded and busy but warmer than Okinawa’s main island, and is loved for its tropical climate, delicious fresh fruits and vegetables, friendly locals, and the huge amount of things to do. During your stay, you might like to relax on beaches, try local black cow “wagyu” beef, and maybe try some marine activities such as diving or snorkeling.
One fantastic and unique attraction on Ishigaki Island is a large limestone cave, located just ten minutes by car or taxi from the port. It is well worth a visit. Here is some information about this stunning natural wonder!
This attraction is very popular, so it is recommended to visit it (and the Okinawa Islands in general) outside of peak season, such as in winter, which is still very warm compared to the rest of Japan (around 20 degrees Celsius). It costs around 1,000 yen to enter the cave, though if you first stop off at the port, you can get a 10% discount coupon at the port travel shop.
Before going into the cave itself, you will see some fascinating cocoons (depending on the season) as well as large boxes holding gigantic crabs. These creatures have a grip that equals the weight of an elephant! There are holes in the boxes where you can see these.
Inside, you can see breathtaking sights of the limestone stalactites and stalagmites that have formed over millions of years. A pathway leads through the cave, lights guiding your way, where you can see where this amazing rock has formed. Walk through the cave, listening to the sounds of the underground and taking in the sights of the different-shaped rocks, sometimes taking on unusual shapes.
You can enter a small room where pots are used to collect dripping water, and one of the staff members will take your picture, which you can later buy if you’d like to. Journeying farther into the cave leads you to the illumination, where hundreds of lights have been placed to bring the cave to life.
The entire walk took around 30 minutes, and we could see some truly lovely sights. There was even a rock shaped like the famous Studio Ghibli character, Totoro.
Staff ask that you do not touch the stalactites and stalagmites because they can break easily, and after all, it wouldn’t do for rock to form naturally for thousands of years only for someone to touch it and break it. Navigating through the cave is very easy as there is a clear man-made path which you can follow. The cave stays remarkably cool – around 23 degrees Celsius – regardless of the weather outside, and so is comfortable no matter when you visit.
The photographs can’t do this magical place justice. Easily accessible and affordable, too, the Ishigaki Island Stalactite Cave must definitely go on your to-do list during your stay in Ishigaki. Marvel at this lovely natural wonder and grab a souvenir or two afterwards as well!