Three hours by air from Tokyo is the heart of the Yaeyama archipelago, Ishigaki. Ishigaki is the hopping off point for all of the islands south of the main Okinawan island.
We have been to the islands three times (I think) and enjoyed it every time. In an odd twist, every time we go, a typhoon comes and the trip is cut short by 3 days. Unlike some of the other islands I will write about soon, with the exception of Ishigaki, a car is not needed to get around
Hateruma: The southernmost island in Japan. Like most of the remote islands of Okinawa, not much except isolated beaches and farmland. We rented bicycles to get around the island.
Tarama: One of the smallest islands I’ve ever been to with a population of only 1,300. Like Hateruma, not much besides farms and isolated beaches. The hotel we stayed at was small and simple and we spent most of the time cycling around the island enjoying nature. An interesting fact about this island is that the airport is only open part time. The ticket counter lady is also the baggage claim lady and tarmac person.We ended up staying an extra day due to mechanical issues with the airplane.