Your MSC Cruise will take you to the Japanese city of Ishigaki on the island of the same name, in the Prefecture of Okinawa. The island, which is 124 miles from Taiwan, is in the Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park, along with those of Iriomote and Kohama, Kuroshima and Taketomi.
Ishigaki has been registered as a city since 1947, and up until 1972 it was administered under the supervision of the United States, following Japan’s surrender in World War II.
You can go on an excursion to KabiraBay, also famous for its black pearl cultivation and for being the first place in the world to cultivate them. White sand, turquoise water and dense green vegetation: the natural landscape of the Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park will take your breath away. It is tempting to dive into the beautiful sea, rich in colourful fauna, but unfortunately it is not suitable for swimming due to the strong currents.
It is also possible to take an excursion to Iriomote Island, with its soft coral beaches and almost 90% of its surface covered in tropical rain forest and mangrove swamps. Inhabited by about 20,000 people, this natural wonder is home to unique specimens of local fauna, such as the coconut crab, which can weigh up to nine pounds, measure three feet across and is able to break a coconut (hence the name), and the Irimote cat, a subspecies of the leopard cat.
You can also visit the small island of Taketomi – it has an area of 3.4 square miles and a perimeter of 5.71 miles – inhabited by just over 300 people. Houses with red-tiled roofs, white sandy streets and an explosion of flowers and plants in the gardens protected by volcanic stone walls: while walking around the island you can see ox-drawn carts and the inhabitants immersed in their daily activities, adhering to traditions that have been handed down over millennia.