After a 3 and a half hour flight from Tokyo, we arrived at the very tropical, very beautiful island of Ishigaki.
The Kabira Gulf
Just as you would think Paris when imagining the Eiffel Tower, when coming to Ishigaki Island, the Kabira Gulf is a definite must-visit sight!
Just a 30 minute drive from the airport, the Kabira Gulf has been declared a 3 star tourist hot spot by the Michelin Green Guide Association of Japan. Despite its beautiful, glass-clear looking waters, the flow of the tide is actually too rapid to allow visitors to freely swim in the Gulf. However, there are plenty of glass-bottom boats on the beaches you can ride to get a glimpse of the beautiful under-water world below.
Each ride is roughly 15 minutes and the boat will take you over areas where there are plenty of coral reefs and tropical fish. The color of the water itself will change with the condition of the weather, making each trip you take a unique experience!
Approximately 20 minute away from the airport and the Ishigaki Bay is the Yaima Village, a theme park that has replicated the Yaeyama infrastructures. This theme park is at the very southern tip of Japan and surrounded by much greenery and vegetation, making it the perfect spot for a nice, relaxing afternoon stroll.
Especially recommend is “The forest of squirrel monkey” where you can interact up close with these adorable little imps. Squirrel monkeys are very playful and because they’ve become accustomed to humans in this park, they will climb and jump onto you without hesitation! With that being said, they are known to open up your purse (yes they are smart enough to know how to use a zipper) and take anything from inside they perceive to be food so one should definitely take care of their belongings when playing with these little critters.
If by this time you’re feeling a bit peckish, you can head down to the Anparu cafeteria for some delicious Yaeyama soba while looking out to the Nagura harbor. Also, the taco rice made with kuroshima beef juice and soki soba are must tries when coming to Okinawa!
Also recommended is the Nakura Anparu area that was listed in the Ramsar Convention back in 2005, with many small creatures such as fiddler crabs visible among the mangroves.
When it comes to souvenirs, nothing says Ishigaki Island like its famous Ishigaki Chili Oil. Especially well known is the chili oil from the Pengin Cafeteria just a 10 minute walk from the Ishigaki harbors. Each bottle of chili oil is completely hand-made and is compatible with all sorts of household recipes such as stir-fries, noodles, and stew dishes. They are known to be sold out from time to time so I definitely recommend going there early during the day to ensure that you get your hands on them!
Stay tuned for the next chapter where I will take you around the three islands around the Ishigaki Harbor: Taketomi Island, Iriomote Island, and Yubu Island! Come with me as I search for star-shaped sand on the beaches, take a ride in a fancy ox cart, and explore through the mangroves plants!
ORIGINAL ARTICLE SOURCE : www.hisgo.com/visit-japan/