Last Stop: Ishigaki
We visited Japan in March when it was still cold and grey back in Europe. Weather in Japan could have been better, could have been worse but I knew I wanted to play it safe an include a stop with guaranteed shorts and t-shirt weather.
While looking for possible destinations, Okinawa was the only choice at that time of the year in Japan. I wanted to avoid the main island and settled for Ishigaki, little known outside of Japan. The island is actually much closer to Taiwan than the main Japanese islands and hence also enjoys a different climate. Flying there took a good four hours but it was worth it the moment we stepped off the plane and were able to breathe the fresh ocean air.
We opted to rent a car in order to be more flexible and discover the island ourselves. While you probably would not need a car if you stayed in the town, we enjoyed the convenience of driving at our own pace.
From our cute 2-room accomodation Cafe & Stay Moana it was about a 10mins drive to the airport and 20mins to the city centre. The village of Shiraho was about a 2mins drive, great for yoga at Le Lotus Bleu.
The first day we toured the island at a casual pace. Lots of beautiful nature to see and plenty of cafes to stop at.
The restaurant above / below is Garden Pana.
Worthwhile mentioning was our dinner where we tried the famous Ishigaki beef:
The second day we took the short ferry over to Taketomi Island which was very unique due its houses as well as being car free. While we thoroughly enjoyed our visit, we just happened to be there the same day as one of the large AIDA cruise ships which spilled several hundred (if not more) tourists onto Ishigaki, many of which joined a tour to Taketomi.
Way to see it was already time to say goodbye and head back to the airport for our flight to Hong Kong and then back to Europe. While Ishigaki might not quite have as beautiful beaches or the beach vibe other destinations in Southeast Asia have, it is a very good location to unwind for a couple of days. And if you know where to go, it is also very easy to escape the masses.