Day two was our first full day on Iriomote, and we had made a general plan the night before to take the bus to the Urauchi river to take a cruise up and see two of Iriomote’s many famous waterfalls. Despite going to bed early the night before however, both of us were dead tired since our beds weren’t very comfortable, and the morning sun woke us up. However, we finally got up and got breakfast at the combini, then went out to the bus stop to wait for the bus.
Buses on Iriomote do not come often, and are mostly inconvenient. It was a bit of a wait, but after awhile it came and we got to the river cruise place where we waited for the next cruise up the river.
Our “beach” in the morning and hermit crabs going back to sea
Waiting for the bus stop
Mangroves and paddles
The cruise started at 10:30, and took maybe 45 minutes or so to get to the docking area up the river we’d start the hike from. During the trip, the guide pointed out different kinds of mangroves and other plant life. The mangroves were really neat, and luckily Kenji could translate for me.
When we docked, the boat driver told us that the hike to the first waterfall was about 30 minutes, and the second 15 minutes after that. If we wanted to see both, we needed to hurry since the boat would leave at 1pm. However, he said we could extend the time we wanted to stay, which Kenji and I decided to do, so we didn’t have to rush. Therefore we’d catch the boat back at 2pm instead and not have to hurry. That turned out to be a really great idea, as we were able to lag behind the rush of people up and down the trail and go at our own pace.
The river was really beautiful, as was the hiking path. We finally came to the lookout over the first waterfall, Mariyude, and sat down for some pictures and snacks. Unfortunately, someone had slipped and fallen at the first falls years back, so you can no longer go down and have a look. Therefore, we continued on to the second set of falls after the snack.
From there we continued on to the second set of falls, Kanpire, where most of the people from our boat were already. After about 30 minutes of exploring, the crowd started to head back to make the 1:00 boat, so we were left almost completely alone. We stayed there until a new set of people started trickling in, then made the 45 minute hike back to the boat, and got back to the beginning at around 3pm.
At that point we were starving, and the bus didn’t come for a long while. Luckily, there was a small cafe open on the other side of the road. The owner spoke a little English, but his assistant was a native speaker, so it was really cool to meet them! We had the specials of the day, and a brown-sugar smoothie, bought some souvenirs, then said goodbye and caught the bus back to Uehara.
We wanted to go to one of the famous beaches, but unfortunately no one had bikes or scooters to rent, and we didn’t want to get a car for such a short time. So we decided to walk, which took forever. On the way we got to see a few neat stores, and the beach we went to, Hoshizuna-no-hama, was nice even though it was getting chilly as the sun set.
Star sand is the exo-skeletons of small star-shaped creatures that mix with the sand and therefore make the sand look like it is in the shape of stars. There are only two beaches in Japan with this phenomena, and this was one of them. The other was on Taketomi Island, which we planned to go to later as well.
Once we got home, we grabbed some dinner and groceries, then took our showers and got ready for bed for another early night.