For a slower pace of life and for a tropical beachy, humid holiday I would highly recommend visiting of the Islands which in comparison to mainland Japan there is a stark difference to the lifestyle and a whole new cultural experience to enjoy. Here is a quick rundown of what we got up to in Ishigaki which is basically an island off mainland Japan in the Okinawa region, it can easily accessed by a short domestic flight.
Intercontinental Ishigaki Resort – We stayed here for four days and absolutely adored every second of our time, we had easy access to a beautiful beach, swimming pool onsite, kids club and a luxury five star spa which became extremely indulgent as I had several treatments there during my stay. Award winning spa, Spa Agarosa is a beautiful haven with friendly staff, so if you’re undecided on where to stay in Ishigaki this should certainly sway it for you. On my last day here I joined several locals and hotel guests for Yoga on the beach at 7am, when the weather isn’t as sweltering, it was a pleasant retreat away from the kids and a great start to my day which was to consist of travelling short haul back to mainland Japan, Osaka. There are two restaurants to choose from with breakfast you can have a buffet style breakfast with a huge choice with Japanese style food and the usual egg chef the other restaurant is more of a traditional Japanese style food that comes as a set menu.
Kids Club – After experiencing the joys of a Kids club in Anantara, Sri Lanka. The kids were looking forward to having a club onsite of our Hotel Intercontinental. They had a large clean spacious room full of different activities which was also attached to a play area outside. The hotel always felt safe and the staff made us feel like we were part of a community.
Food – I have to say we ate well on the island the fresh seafood available in restaurants are in abundance, we recommend going to places that are full of locals and not tourists. You also don’t have to spend a fortune to eat well here. Aside the restaurants in our hotel which were to a great standard and convenient we also enjoyed and would recommend the following places to eat: Omote , Hitoshi and Funakura no Sto,
Shopping – There aren’t many shopping malls or high street shops in Ishigaki. You will mainly find small cute shops with basic or usual everyday supplies. Our shopping mainly consisted of trips to the supermarket for fresh food and snacks.
Activities on the island
Kabira Bay glass boats: On Kabira bay you can join other tourists on glass bottom boats and get a guided tour of the tropical water wildlife. Stunning and beautiful.
Water buffalo: If you want to see the water buffalos, which are famous here and would like to be pulled in a cart by one you will have to cross over to the neighbouring islands. We didn’t do this activity and spent most of our time on Ishigaki.
Yaeyama Village: Yaeyama village wasn’t a planned trip, this was something we found on google search after the Kabira Bay activities and decided to take the kids to a petting zoo. We aren’t big supporters of places like this but when travelling with kids sometimes we make a few allowances for their experience and enjoyment especially if there isn’t much for them to do. Yaeyama village isn’t a huge zoo and they don’t have a large array of animals but they do have a village of traditional Japanese style houses which each have something different to offer, whether it be a small theatre production or a photoshoot in traditional clothing. There is also a large open air cage where you can go for a walk in and will find lots of squirrel monkeys. I think this was the highlight for the kids as they got to run out with the monkeys and play closely with them. We had a photoshoot for the kids and purchased a few small bits of memorabilia, overall we had a lovely afternoon and would highly recommend it. An authentic, dated, picturesque village that looks like it has been around for a very long time, when you see experience Tokyo and then get to find places like this you do feel very lucky. Especially as it’s something off the beaten track and you won’t find in the guide books.
Ishigaki is a slow, sleepy, humid haven. A little underdeveloped with dated buildings holding remnants of World War II military occupation left behind. Tremendous fresh food and friendly locals. We left the island with wonderful memories that we will cherish for a lifetime and if we ever get the chance to go back we sure will.