ISHIGAKI: THE UP AND COMING ISLAND OF JAPAN
January 1, 1970
by Marcella Giovanna
I call it up and coming because it’s just that, paradise waiting to be discovered. Many people crave that hidden paradise where you can go to relax and unwind. An emerald green colored beach and not be surrounded by so many tourists.
Where Is Ishigaki?
ISHIGAKI has got just that… Off the coast of Okinawa, JAPAN. This island has exceptional local people, food and most of all crystal clear water with many activities to go with it. Before even landing, you could see the beauty that awaits.
What Can You Do There?
There are so many water sport activities that the island provides. I would say that it is a must to try snorkeling and paddle boarding. The are so many reefs with many sea creatures that going in the water and seeing them is truly an amazing experience.
For the fitness geeks, there is also paddle boarding, which provides a sensational peaceful view of what’s underwater, while still doing your day to day exercise.
Where To Eat
Japanese food is known worldwide, but truly coming to Japan and tasting it is a whole other experience!!! For all the sushi lovers out there, make sure to check out Sushinchu. Their sushi is fresh and just ordering them automatically by a screen and having it brought to you on a sushi train style conveyer belt after 3 minutes is another bonus point.
Another must try is their green soda. It is not only refreshing but it also tastes great! There are so many fresh sushis, miso soups and sashimi to choose from. The price its good for what they offer.
On that third day, we drove around the bike path on the beach near our hotel when we stumbled across this cute modern restaurant called St. Elmo.
It had a sensational view and we didn’t even think twice before making a dinner reservation. We got there 30 minutes before the sun was set to go down. The atmosphere was great! The food had a European vibe to it, so we ordered some nice cold white wine and tapas while admiring the views.
This place has truly one of the best spots to watch the sunset! While the menu price is a little expensive, its a must to go there. It was one of the highlights of my trip, and the customer service, like everyone on the island was on point.
Just watching the sun go down with the bright orange colors, the wind blowing in your face with music playing in the background, and holding a glass of nice Italian white wine, it didn’t get any better than that.
`If you want to check out something specific, have a look at the tripadvisor reviews of restaurants on the island.
What To Do At Night
The nightlife in Ishigaki is what I would call calm. If you ever come to the island, don’t expect it to be like Okinawa or much less like Tokyo. Ishigaki is more for relaxing, having good food and making the most out of the beautiful beaches.
However, for a calm night out, the best place to go is Chaka Chaka. It’s a small reggae bar in the city centre. Most nights they play live music, and you can sit there and have an ice cold Japanese beer. Make sure you have eaten first though, the food there, while it might be great quality, the portions are relatively small.
The owner was a well-known surfer back in his day and his a really nice guy. He makes you feel at home at his bar and all in all, it has a really good atmosphere and customer service, a must see place to go to have a good chill and fun night.
Have a look at the 10 best nightlife spots according to Yelp
While paddle boarding and watching the crystal clear water and the sunset in the horizon, or flocking in the nice white beaches with few tourists in sight might sound like a dream, we wanted to explore more of what the island had to offer. So on our third day there, we rented some bicycles, which cost around 10 euros a day and went to explore Ishigaki.
When I imagined Ishigaki for some reason I believed it was a lot smaller that it appeared. That day I realized I was totally wrong, the island is fairly big. So you really need to choose a good path to go and see the sights on a bicycle, because it is impossible to see it all in one day.
Whatever bike route you choose, all of them have pretty good views of not only the beaches, but also the plantations of the island. Ishigaki has the best invention ever!! While hiking or biking you will find beverage machines, literally in the middle of nowhere every few kilometers. So don’t worry about being thirsty, cos that will never happen.
To choose the bike routes, it all depends on where you are staying, which brings me to my next piece of advice: Where to stay. It all depends on your budget. While the famous club med on the island sounds like a lot of fun, it’s expensive and you will be surrounded by a lot of guests. In this environment you really won’t be able to explore the real local Ishigaki.
We stayed in a nice place, just 10 minutes by taxi from the city center. The hotel, which was called Beach Hotel Sunshine was really nice, fairly cheap, and it was in front of the beach. It provided amazing views of the sunsets.
What to take into account
While Japan is known for being super modern and very advanced in their technology, for some strange reason, the island has very poor wifi. There are only a few, and I mean really few places where they provide good wifi or just wifi in general. To be honest, it isn’t as bad as it sounds. It’s a great excuse to shut down your phone and just enjoy your surroundings.
Another thing to take into account is the language. Not many people speak English. However, they are very patient and nice and will try their best to communicate with you, and they expect the same from you.
5 days was not enough to explore all the island and what it had to offer. The locals are so friendly! Their food is out of this world and the beaches, there are truly no words for the beauty they hold.