(this post is a throwback photo blog from October 2019)
Okinawa was my last prefecture I needed to travel to in order to finally seal the deal of going to all 47 Prefectures in Japan. We planned a trip in October since we wanted to try to get some good weather. Winter is often colder, making waters colder and resorts often limit the amount of activities in the winter time (in good Japanese fashion). In the summertime, Okinawa is likely to get typhoons, and we wanted to avoid it...
...which is crazy ironic because two typhoons were circling our tails for the duration of our one week trip. Thankfully, the one that was hitting Ishigaki changed courses and brushed right past us. The second one hit just after we left Ishigaki and followed us to Naha (will be featured in a different post), and last minute swerved towards Osaka. Our flight would have been cancelled had the typhoon kept up its strength. But the day before we left, the typhoon dissipated so I guess it ended up being a tale to tell, huh?
So anyway, let's get started from the beginning!
We flew into Ishigaki from Osaka KIX. After we picked up our car, we quickly drove towards Yonehara Beach.
We briefly stopped by the Yonehara Palm Grove, but didn't stay long.
But we did get a really nice pineapple sugar cane drink, and met a few local kitties by the gift shop there. They were all taking their late morning naps.
We wanted to stop by other attractions (like the Blue Cave) but with the typhoon approaching, we wanted to make the most of our snorkeling time. So we headed straight for the beach after that.
When we got to the beach, we had a problem. We had banked on being able to purchase some cheap snorkeling gear there, since we couldn't find any at the airport. They had gear for rent, but we didn't really feel comfortable renting. We were also going to go to several beaches, so it was better to have our own gear. We attempted to float and take turns "snorkeling" with my goggles... but it wasn't ideal.
So we decided to go somewhere else to try and buy gear for the rest of the trip and hopefully come back another time, when the weather would still be okay. And also get some lunch.
So, we drive down to Kabira Bay.
We stopped in for lunch, and thankfully due to it being one of the biggest tourist attractions, you can buy snorkeling gear here! You can't buy snorkeling stuff at the airport for one reason or another, so if you don't want to rent gear - definitely stop in at Kabira Bay first!
I wanted to try some Ishigaki beef, while my boyfriend got some Soki Soba (I didn't take a photo).
Kabira Bay is non-swimmable. Sadly.
I did overhear a local saying to her (presumably) visiting friend that many locals come here after sundown to take a dip, but during the daytime, swimming is prohibited. I probably wouldn't want to swim here with all those boats operating anyway, but such a shame since it looks so beautiful!
It was here that we got our first scoops of Blue Seal ice cream, and many many more to come during the rest of our trip!
With our snorkeling gear in hand, we handed back to Yonehara Beach for a second attempt at snorkeling. I wish I had a waterproof camera and took photos, because even though it was windy the it was just so much fun!
By around 4pm, the weather had gotten even more intense from the incoming typhoon that was suppose to hit later that night. After about an hour of windy snorkeling, we decided to drive the long way around the island to explore so more before settling in for the night in Downtown Ishigaki. We only had one full day in Ishigaki, so we wanted to see as much as we could!
The next part is a bit of a blur, but I do remember driving over to Sukuji Beach to find that swimming season at that beach was over one week ago. Since Sukuji Beach was extremely shallow (as you can see in the picture below), you are still allowed to dip and walk around, but snorkeling was a definite no-go.
A family of tourists who drove in the same time we did realized the same thing, and ultimately left just as we did.
The weather was still quite nice then, but it was extremely windy.
You can see all the thick clouds starting to form when we were at... what I presume is the Oganzaki Lighthouse. Like I said, this part was very much a blur to me. Haha.
So someone more well-versed in Ishigaki please feel free to correct me if I'm mistaking my photos to be somewhere else.
After that, we were going to drive straight into Downtown Ishigaki for the night, but since we had to pass along the strip of Resorts (small island problems lol) to get back into town anyway, we decided to check out what Resort Life would have looked like.
So we drove into a resort we had previously wanted to stay at, but opted out of - Fusaki Beach Resort Hotel.
It was also just in time for sunset!
The clouds were really setting in, so there wasn't much sunset, but we did get a little bit in.
Would have been the perfect sunset spot if not for the ominous clouds. :(
Doesn't it look like it's straight out of a Japanese soap drama? Definitely an ideal spot for a wedding or a ceremony, that's for sure.
Fusaki Beach is a private beach, but non-staying guests are welcome to just park along the side of the road and walk in. I do highly recommend coming here and taking a stroll. Their Aqua Garden is actually pretty damn impressive for a resort, and I highly regret not splurging even more to stay here haha...
They also have a 6000 yen buffet offering if you're into the high-end buffet experience. It's available to non-staying guests.
We were tempted to try, but figured there must be other foods in downtown Ishigaki waiting for us. So off we went into downtown Ishigaki for the night...
We walked through the shopping street looking for food and being distracted by souvenir shops along the way. We actually had a hard time finding a restaurant for food (we realized on our 2nd night in Ishigaki that we were simply looking at the wrong places), so we spent a lot of time just wandering.
We finally gave in and decided to look on google maps.
I don't remember how, but I chanced on this Mexican restaurant called Vagabundo several blocks away from the main shopping street area.
This turned out to be one of the best meals we've had on our entire trip.
It was so good, we went back on our 2nd night in Ishigaki. I highly recommend it to all of you once we all get a chance to travel again!!
But that's it for one full day in Ishigaki.
We spent our second day on the island of Taketomi, just off the coast of Ishigaki. I hope to write about it next time, along with the rest of my time in Okinawa back in 2019!
Thanks for reading!