So Kabira Bay is probably THE top attraction on Ishigaki island.
It’s known for its stunning views.
First, the quick list of the best things to do at Kabira Bay.
Then, the short list of some important things to know about this beach.
And then, a bit more about what your time at Kabira Bay can look like with TONS of pictures!
Kabira Bay can be a perfect part of a 3-day Ishigaki itinerary when you are spending time in Okinawa!
- Day 1 – Hiking in Ishigaki with waterfalls and ocean views
- Day 2 – Day trip by Ishigaki ferry to neighboring island of Taketomi
- Day 3 – Kabira Bay! And then follow it up with snorkeling in Ishigaki
Best things to do at Kabira Bay
1. Glass bottom boat ride
2. Find Nemo!
3. See rare blue coral
4. See the famous views of Ishigaki
5. Drink fresh “island juice”
Top 2 things to know about Kabira Bay
1. It’s been given a 3-star rating by the Michelin green guide
So you know about Michelin restaurants.
Well there’s also a Michelin “green guide” to rate travel destinations and tourist attractions.
And Kabira Bay is the only place in Okinawa that’s been given a 3-star rating by the Michelin green guide:
Kabira Bay to the north of Ishigaki is lapped by waters inhabited by impressive manta rays, to the delight of divers.
The reefs also provide shelter to Japan’s greatest concentration of coral (nearly 215 varieties) and the bay is also famous for its black cultured pearls.
2. You can’t swim at Kabira Bay
You’ll find a white-sand beach, amazing water color, and coral reef here, but the main ways to enjoy Kabira Bay is basically by seeing the underwater life through a glass bottom boat ride, or see the views from above at the observation deck.
There are signs posted saying it’s dangerous to swim here.
It doesn’t seem to be a problem if you want to just wade in the shallow area by dipping your feet in the ocean. (Pretty much just your feet, though!)
And that’s the extent of getting in the water at this beach!
This means that although there’s coral reef and the fish to go along with it, unfortunately there’s no snorkeling at Kabira Bay. (Try Yonehara Beach for snorkeling after your visit to Kabira Bay!)
The beach seems mostly to be a boat launch point.
How to get to Kabira Bay by bus
There is a bus system on Ishigaki island.
And with Kabira Bay being one of the top tourist attractions on the island, it’s possible to get to Kabira Bay by bus.
The bus timings aren’t the most frequent, but since it is one of the top spots, there are a number of buses throughout the day that go to Kabira Bay.
There are actually 3 bus stops that include the name “Kabira” in them:
- Kabira post office
- Kabira park
- Kabira rotary
While I’m guessing getting off at any of them wouldn’t be too big of a deal and wouldn’t require too much extra walking, the best one to get off at would be the “Kabira Park” bus stop.
Once you get to Ishigaki, you can pick up an English copy of the bus timetable.
When I was in Ishigaki (April 2019), Google Maps wasn’t helpful with Ishigaki bus routes. (Google Maps is helpful for most cities across Japan, though!)
Also when you are in Ishigaki, you’ll want to get a bus pass.
If you’re staying near the bus terminal, a one-day bus pass will be worth it to go to and from Kabira Bay.
The cost of the bus pass is 1,000 yen (US$9).
If you’ll be doing even one more “day trip” by bus around Ishigaki island in addition to Kabira Bay, then the 5-day bus pass will be worth it. The cost of that one is 2,000 yen (US$18).
You can buy the bus passes at the bus terminal or on the bus itself.
Where to stay in Ishigaki
If you have a few days on Ishigaki island and you’ll be getting around by public transportation only, then staying near the Ishigaki bus terminal and ferry port can be convenient.
The bus terminal and ferry port are basically right across from each other.
I stayed at this guesthouse which was a 10-15 minute walk from the bus terminal and ferry port.
This place has both hostel-style dorm beds and private rooms. The private rooms are kind of Japanese-style which means that you’ll be sleeping on the floor.
This guesthouse is run by a Japanese couple with 2 young kids, and they live on-site. So if you are looking to get interaction with a Japanese family, this could be a good place too!
For more accommodation options on Ishigaki, put in future dates below (partner website) to get an idea for how much hotels cost on Ishigaki island!
If you don’t see a map of hotel prices below, see Ishigaki hotel prices here.
Places to stay near Kabira Bay
It can also be an option to stay near Kabira Bay, but if you’re relying on public transportation, staying near town (which is near bus/ferry terminals) could be more convenient.
Here’s what 2 hours at Kabira Bay can look like!
Actually this was more like 1.5 hours.
I wanted to make it a day of Kabira Bay and Yonehara Beach snorkeling, so I looked at the bus timings and ended up with around 1.5 hours at Kabira Bay.
This turned out to be enough time and I didn’t feel rushed at all.
But because I was on a time schedule, I did do the boat ride first.
If you are not worried about time, the order doesn’t really matter as the main part of Kabira Bay you’ll be visiting is a pretty small area.
You can really just show up to the Kabira Bay area and start walking!
But just to give you an idea, here’s what my 1.5 hours looked like!
Arrival at Kabira Bay bus stop
So once you get off at the Kabira Park bus stop, if you’re coming from the direction of the Ishigaki bus terminal, you’ll start walking in the same direction the bus goes.
In less than a minute, you’ll come across an intersection.
You can go straight here to walk straight to the “park” and observation deck.
But I turned left at the intersection towards the parking lot.
There’s a toilet building here too.
And then continuing straight past the toilets takes you to a booth that sells tickets to a glass bottom boat ride.
Buying a ticket for Kabira Bay glass bottom boat ride
So basically the thing to do at Kabira Bay (aside from the taking in some of the best views in Ishigaki!) is to take a glass bottom boat ride around the bay.
It’s not necessary to buy a ticket in advance before you arrive to Kabira Bay, as there are a couple of booths around to buy a boat ticket from once you get there.
The boats generally depart every 30 minutes or so, and at the booth I bought my ticket from, the next boat departure time was listed.
How much does the boat ride ticket cost?
The going rate for the glass bottom boat ride seems to be around 1,000 yen (US$9).
Included in the cost of my boat ride was some star-shaped souvenir sand.
So once I bought my ticket, I headed down the path to the bay.
Once I got to the beach, someone who works with the boat tours saw me holding my ticket and he directed me on where to wait for the boat.
And then basically, I waited for the boat departure taking in the Kabira Bay views!
The glass bottom boat ride!
In case you can’t tell…
So you can find nemo in Okinawa!
It’s also not unusual to see nemo when snorkeling or scuba diving in Ishigaki too.
And while these pictures are aren’t the best, when you are actually on the boat looking underwater, you’ll be able to see nemo quite clearly!
Of course, this is nature, so there’s no guarantee that you can see nemo on your glass bottom boat ride.
But you’ll be taken to a spot in which there’s a good chance that you can!
And then another one of the highlights is seeing blue coral.
Apparently, blue coral is rare, and the Yaeyama Islands (which Ishigaki Island is a part of) is one of the few places in the world where you can find blue coral in abundance.
Is the Kabira Bay glass bottom boat ride worth it?!
For me, it was worth it as soon as I saw nemo!
I can’t particularly say I was wowed or overly excited at any other time during the boat ride, but it was a nice boat ride around the bay.
And since the cost isn’t ridiculously high, why not go for a boat ride for a chance to see nemo and blue coral?
But I would say also go snorkeling or scuba diving in Ishigaki if you can!
There are lots of tours for both, and there are a few snorkeling beaches in Ishigaki too if you don’t want to go for a tour.
You can take the bus to Yonehara Beach for a cheap snorkeling activity.
Observation deck with some of the best views of Ishigaki!
So after the boat ride, it was a short walk towards the observation deck.
You’ll be able to see where this is located from the beach.
And then as you take the stairs up, you’ll start to get the views of Kabira Bay from above!
Go for some fresh island juice
And then once you’ve finished up taking in the Kabira Bay views, head down to the main streets for a drink made from fresh tropical fruit!
And there’s a couple of hours at Kabira Bay!
HAPPY KABIRA BAY VISIT!
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The super fast train in JapanIn general, 2 long-distance shinkansen train trips will likely end up making it so the JR pass will be worth it. But here's how to calculate it to be sure.
See the current price of a JR pass from an official vendor.
NEW way of buying individual shinkansen train tickets online!I will start by saying I have NOT bought train tickets online this way (yet!) to verify this! (But it's on my list for my next trip to Japan!)
There's an online train ticket booking method that's popular for other parts of Asia, and they are just now branching out to Japan.
You can now buy train tickets online here for popular shinkansen train routes. (And some bus routes too.)
I've used this booking site for taking the train from Thailand to Malaysia, and it worked out well, so I would expect it to work out well in Japan too!
The thing is, though, that you need to pick up the physical train tickets in person.
So it won't be enough to just buy the tickets online. I had to do this in Bangkok for my train ticket - and it was easy! So again, I would think it'd be easy for Japan train tickets too.
Search for popular routes in Japan here. For example, Tokyo to Kyoto.
If you end up buying train tickets online this way, I would love to hear how it goes! Whether that's good, or if it came with some challenges!
Natural disasters in JapanUnfortunately, Japan can be prone to natural disasters which means risk for travel delays. So be sure to look at travel insurance for natural disasters.
My travel insurance took care of my accommodation and food costs when I was forced to stay extra days in Japan because of a typhoon.
See how much insurance costs for your trip.
Best travel guides for JapanIf you're at step 1 in your planning process, have a look at this Discover Japan book.
For "books" that won't take up space in your suitcase, see the best PDF guides.
See more of the best books for Japan trip planning.
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