Vanilla Air to Launch New Routes in July

Vanilla Air new routes to Ishigaki

Japanese LCC Vanilla Air will launch new routes to southern Okinawa’s Ishigaki Island from this summer.

Japanese LCC (Low Cost Carrier) Vanilla Air has announced that it will launch new flight routes to Ishigaki Island in Okinawa in the far south of Japan from 1 July, 2018. The two new routes will operate between Ishigaki Airport (ISG) and Tokyo’s Narita International Airport (NRT) and between Ishigaki and Okinawa’s capital city’s Naha Airport (OKA), with late morning, early and late evening departures designed to fit conveniently with traveller’s schedules.

Vanilla Air already operates three flights per day between Narita and Naha, with prices for a one-way ticket starting from 5,780 Yen (£38.40). Prices for a one-way ticket on the new Narita to Ishigaki route will start at 7,480 Yen (£49.70), while for the Naha to Ishigaki route they will cost from just 3,780 Yen (£25.10).

Flight Schedules for the New Routes

Kabira Bay, Ishigaki Island ©Saori K

Vanilla Air will operate one flight per day in each direction on the new route between Narita and Ishigaki. The outbound flight (JW811) will operate every day of the week between 1 July and 27 October, departing Narita at 10:00 and arriving at Ishigaki at 13:40. The inbound flight (JW812) will also operate daily during the same months, and will depart Ishigaki at 14:40 and arrive at Narita at 17:40.

Meanwhile, on the new route between Naha and Ishigaki there will be two flights per day in each direction. The first flight will fly every morning at the same time, while the second flight will fly at a slightly different time on each day of the week (details below). All flights will operate between 1 July and 27 October. 

In the outbound direction, JW881 will depart Naha at 10:05 and arrive at Ishigaki at 11:10 every day of the week, while JW887 will fly at the following times each day of the week: Mon/Fri/Sat dep. 17:55 arr. 19:00, Tues/Thu dep. 17:35 arr. 18:40, Wed dep. 18:15 arr. 19:20, Sun dep. 17:45 arr. 18:50.

In the inbound direction, JW882 will depart Ishigaki at 11:50 and arrive at Naha at 12:50 every day of the week, while JW888 will fly at the following times each day of the week: Mon/Fri/Sat dep. 19:40 arr. 20:40, Tues/Thu dep. 19:20 arr. 20:20, Wed dep. 20:00 arr. 21:00, Sun dep. 19:30 arr. 20:30.

With such a range of affordably priced flights in each direction on both of the new routes, it will soon be easier than ever for travellers to access the crystal-clear waters and pristine white sands of Ishigaki Island’s tropical beaches.

What To Do in Ishigaki

Manta Ray, Ishigaki Island

From its mesmerizing emerald green waters and abundance of adrenaline-pumping marine sports to its unique local food, subtly different to that of Okinawa’s main island, Ishigaki is full of attractions to tempt visitors to its paradisal shores.

The island is a haven for scuba diving fans, with divers coming here from all over the world to experience its world-class clear sea waters and meet its friendly manta rays. Not a diver? Not to worry - take a glass-bottom boat tour of Kabira Bay and spy on colourful tropical fishes and coral reefs from the bottom of the boat. Or just sit and gaze at the beautiful ocean views from your chosen vantage point ashore.

You’ll soon find that time flows differently on Ishigaki, and this too is one of the island’s charms. Blue seas and skies, white sand beaches, traditional red-tiled roofs, warm southern breezes, and the slow rumble of carriages pulled by water buffalo. Give yourself up to ‘island time’ and soak up the scenery of views that have hardly changed compared to a century ago. In such beautiful surroundings, even a simple stroll along the beach will leave you feeling refreshed and relaxed in both mind and body.

Kabira Soba Noodle ©Saori K

Finally, don’t forget to sample some of Ishigaki’s local cuisine before hopping on your flight back to Naha or Tokyo. Not-to-be-missed choices include the island’s traditional Yaeyama Soba noodles - different to the better-known Soki Soba of Okinawa’s main island - and the local variety of Japanese Wagyu beef, soft and melt-in-the-mouth Ishigaki Beef (Ishigaki-gyu).

There is plenty more on offer in addition to scuba diving with manta rays, glass bottom boat tours, and water buffalo carriage rides. Why not try one of these great activities on your visit? Take your pick from cycling, stargazing, trekking to a waterfall, canoeing through a mangrove forest, sunset BBQ cruises, swimming with dolphins, sunset and night-time kayaking or SUP (stand-up paddle-boarding), night safari to discover fireflies, bats and coconut crabs, and more.

Ishigaki Island is waiting for you this summer! If you’re planning to fly to Okinawa, then why not travel a little farther on one of Vanilla Air’s new flights and get your fill of Ishigaki Island’s aquamarine waters and sparkling golden sands?

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