Ishigaki’s Northern Peninsula
Hirakubo is the northern end of Ishigaki Island in Okinawa prefecture. Between the East China Sea and the Pacific Ocean, the peninsula offers beautiful panoramas over a lush vegetation and a steep rocky coastline. The landscape also includes a few fine sand beaches for relaxing in a paradise-like decor.
The remotest region of Ishigaki Island, its northern peninsula called Hirakubo, displays on its Pacific coast luxurious hilly landscapes that retained some wilderness. Nevertheless, a few families live here all year long and provide for themselves through agriculture and tourism. Pastures are therefore next to the sightseers’ accommodations and the few diving shops or various activities available. The human activity focused on the western coast, on the side of the East China Sea.
Hiking to Hirakubozaki Lighthouse
From the observation platform Tamatorizaki, drive on Road 206 to Hirakubozaki Lighthouse located at the northern end of the island. The parking lot there is also a panoramic observation platform over the whole area. The unobstructed landscape is spectacular: with forest-covered lands as well as the rocky coastline punctuated by white sand patches. Depending on the weather and the tides, the color of the sea varies from turquoise to dark blue.
A pedestrian path leads to the foot of the lighthouse, which is not opened to the visit. However, you can take a big breath of fresh marine air, with the wind blowing in your hair. There is really nothing more to do than admire the view and take beautiful landscape pictures. Additionally, it is an ideal place for lovers.
Not that the parking does not have much space and it can be quickly full during the high season or on a good weather day. Nearby, the Taro Horii pottery workshop (太朗窯) sells local souvenirs.
Relaxing on the fine sand of Sunset Beach
Sunset is the most renowned beach 🏖 of Hirakubo, and some visitors of Ishigaki come especially for its fine and soft sand, that is indeed very pleasant to the bare foot.
To reach the beach, one must walk a path through a small jungle that gives the impression to go to a remote place, like Robinson Crusoe. The paradise-like decor is indeed worth it, with rocks sprawling into the Pacific Ocean, a lush vegetation, and the exquisite crystal-clear water.
During the peak season, from mid-April to October, beach facilities are provided, and swimming is monitored on Sunset Beach. Parking is then charged (¥500 / ~US$3.66), and items such as sunshade, or toilet 🚽 and shower access are for rent. The access to the beach remains free. An underwater net is also spread to protect from jellyfish while delineating the zone for swimming.
The most adventurous may feel limited by these rules, while families can be reassured by the precautions and have their children splash around safely. It is also possible to watch small tropical fishes underwater, but unfortunately no coral, that seems dead on this side of the coast.
In the low touristic season, when it is too cold for swimming and the facilities are closed, the beach retrieves it natural beauty. It is therefore at this time of the year that one can enjoy staying until the evening to contemplate the sun setting in the sea. During the high season, the parking indeed closes at 6 p.m. and it becomes impossible to park in the evening!
The small Hirakubo Beach (平久保ビーチ), 2 kilometers north, is an alternative to admire the sunset and walk on the seaside. The parking is free all year round, but swimming is forbidden.