Today the world becomes more populated and inhabited. Nevertheless, there are places where the sun, sand and sea gusts are the only one friends….Welcome to Hateruma, located near the Tropic of Cancer, part of the Yaeyama Island group, Japan. This coral island is clothed in banyan trees, Indian almonds, bamboo orchids and colourful hibiscus. Somehow it’s a blissfulness of remoteness with no man-made noise and the exotic decent of frangipani perfumes in the air.
Tourism is virtually non-existent on Hateruma – there are no big hotels or coach parties. The island is best explored by bicycle, at a slow pace fitting the pace of life here. The empty roads lead to endless reaches of sea and sky. There is one just village in the centre of the island, with most of the inhabitants involved in fishing, growing sugarcane or producing Awanami, a highly-priced alcoholic drink. Some of the wooden houses are plain and weathered, others are painted in pretty shades of green or blue, with traditional orange tiled roofs.
The clear blue waters around the island make this a good place for diving and snorkeling. There is plenty to explore, featuring coral reefs, rock arches and brilliantly colourful tropical fish. In the spring migratory fish, such as hammerhead sharks,can be seen. If you want to relax, the beach at Nishi, edged with pandanus trees, the most beautiful beach in Japan.
Hateruma is also famous for its astronomical observatory, as this is the only place in Japan from where you can view the Southern Cross. Of the 88 constellations, 84 can be seen from there, and the clear skies and lack of light population make this a great place to view the night sky.
You can get to Hateruma by plane or ferry. There is one Ryukyu Air Commuter flight which leaves daily from Ishigaki and takes about 25 minutes. The trip by ferry from Ishigaki to Hateruma takes about an hour and they leave 3 times a day. The roundtrip price is about 5800 yen. You can purchase tickets from ANEI Kankou Ferry or Hateruma Kaiun Ferry.