Yaeyama Palm Tree Grove

Yaeyama Palm Tree Grove. Ishigaki Island, JapanOn the northern coast of Ishigaki lies a spot where palm trees grow at the base of Mt.Omoto. The palm trees rise to a height of around 10 meters and the area, named the 'Yaeyama palm tree grove', is a designated national natural monument. If approaching from the east the site is found just a couple of miles before Yonehara beach with the entrance being located on the left hand side of the road.
 
Entry is free and there is a car park at the top of the road complete with a store where refreshments and souvenirs can be purchased (the fresh 'Dragon Fruit Juice' which is available from the shop near the entrance comes highly recommended). 
 
A map at the car park displays a map of a walking trail and staff at the shop instruct visitors to take a 10 minute hike to the observation point. However, it should be pointed out that I've visited this location twice and on both occasions one route has been blocked off and the other has come to an end after a minute or so of walking. This has resulted in grumbles of 'is that it?' from Japanese tourists. In all fairness I'd say that the total amount of time that you're likely to want to spend at this spot is going to be between 10 to 20 minutes, unless of course you have a specific interest in palm trees.
 
Having said that, the route which is open ends in a clearing which offers an impressive view of the palm trees reaching towards the sky directly above. In addition, the trees can be clearly viewed from the road which leads up the hill to the car park entrance.
 
dragon fruitsThe lady in this picture was so impressed that I'd ridden my bike all the way from Maezato that she treated me a glass of their delicious 'Dragon Fruit Juice'. The sign on the top-left is advertising 'Shiisaa Juice with Awamori' - they've even gone as far as to indicate below that it will not be sold to drivers!
 
A trip to the northern coast of the island simply to view these trees probably can't be justified on it's own merits, however, a 20 minute stop off would fit well into any schedule involving other areas such as Yonehara beach or even Kabira.