Pinaisara Falls ピナイサーラの滝
Jungle trail to the falls
If you're looking for a day trip that's off the beaten track, look no further than a tour to Pinaisara Falls on Iriomote Island.
Combine hiking and kayaking through the jungle to catch a glimpse of Okinawa's highest and most dramatic waterfall. There are different tour options to choose from, with many of them including lunch at the water side. This is an experience not to be missed if you are a hiking enthusiast.
- The beauty of the falls
- A trek through the tangled jungle
- Kayaking and diving by the falls
How to Get There
There are high-speed ferries operating between Ishigaki and Uehara Port on Iriomote Island. It takes about 40 to 50 minutes and the ferries leave every one to two hours.
The best way to get to Pinaisara Falls from the port is on one of the shuttle buses operated by local tour companies.
Pinaisara Falls is the highest waterfall in Okinawa
Iriomote Island is 90 percent jungle
There are about 100 Iriomote cats still living wild on the island
Iriomote Island is the least tamed of all the Okinawan islands, and you have to be prepared to walk, or row, to explore its delights to their fullest.
A number of companies offer excellent tours to the falls. Since they also provide a shuttle service, they are an excellent way to get the most out of your stay. You need to arrive at the island early, as most of the tours kick off at 9 a.m. or earlier.
More than 90 percent of the island is covered by dense jungle and mangrove forest, and the tours generally combine hiking and kayaking through the jungle to the falls.
The island is home to the Iriomote cat, a relative of the leopard cat. Sadly, there are only 100 remaining in the wild, so you will have to be lucky to spot one.
If you are traveling with children, check about age limits with the company when you book. Some of them start at five or six years old, some from ten. A few of the tours are for adults only.
The hike to the waterfall takes up to an hour. It is a well-kept trail and not especially tough so can be completed by children. However, hiking shoes and appropriate clothing are necessary.
Fun and food at the falls
When you reach your goal, you are rewarded with some great views of the tree-clad mountains of Iriomote Islands, and the ocean beyond. The spectacular close-up view of Pinaisara Falls itself is worth the climb—the water plunges 55 meters to the basin below, the longest drop of any waterfall in Okinawa. The basin is also a great place for swimming.
Many of the tours include lunch cooked by your guide. After an hour at the falls, well-fed and well-rested, you can start on the return journey. A hiking tour to Pinaisara Falls generally takes between six and seven hours, so you should find yourself back at the ferry by late afternoon. There are also half-day tours which take about four hours.
Pinaisara Falls may be the highest waterfall on the island, but there are others that may present more of a challenge to the hardened hiker or the keen kayaker.
Check out the tours on offer to Adenade, Yutsun, and Nara Falls. If you are up for a serious kayaking excursion, try a trip from Shirahama Port on the west coast to Nara Falls.
It's two hours in the boat and another 30 minutes hike to the falls, and the same again back to Shirahama. Expect to kick off at 8 a.m. and get back by 5 p.m. Not for the faint of heart or body, but this is surely the ideal way to discover the untamed beauty of Iriomote Island.