Destinations on the rise in 2018: This tropical Japanese island comes out top

Kawahira Bay, Ishigaki Island, Japan. Source: Shikema/Shutterstock

AS Japan’s tourism boom shows no signs of abating, more travelers are reaching beyond the big cities and discovering some of the hidden gems the country has to offer. One such gem is the island of Ishigaki, which has just been voted number one “Destinations on the Rise” by travel review website, TripAdvisor.

The island came out tops in the 2018 Annual Travellers’ Choice awards announced this week, and is the only Asian destination to make the list.

As one of Japan’s most southerly islands, Ishigaki has a tropical feel to it with pure blue waters and sandy beaches that one more commonly associates with Southeast Asia hotspots like Malaysia and Thailand. The more rugged low-lying interior, however, invite long drives and day hikes across the island.

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The clear waters and diverse wildlife make for an ideal diving environment. Dive sites are littered across the Yaeyama archipelago – of which Ishigaki is a part – with the most popular residents being the giant manta rays. Divers from Japan and across the world are drawn to the famous “Manta Point” where you’re almost guaranteed to catch a glimpse of these graceful sea creatures.

Given Ishigaki’s location in the Yaeyama archipelago, visitors can spend the day island hopping to the surrounding islands of Taketomi, Kuroshima and Kohama, all of which can be explored by bicycle within a few hours.

Other destinations to watch in 2018 include the small town of Kapaa, nestled in the Hawaiian hills, and the safari capital of Africa, Nairobi.

Here’s the full list so you can get planning your 2018 travel itinerary:

Travellers’ Choice Destinations On The Rise

  1. Ishigaki, Japan
  2. Kapaa, Hawaii
  3. Nairobi, Kenya
  4. Halifax, Canada
  5. Gdansk, Poland
  6. San Jose, Costa Rica
  7. Riga, Latvia
  8. Rovinj, Croatia
  9. Nerja, Spain
  10. Casablanca, Morocco