I don't think we knew what to truly expect from our stay in Ishigaki Island. When we picked the location to visit back in February, we just wanted to be somewhere outdoor-oriented and warm. Warm enough for all of us to swim and spend time together as a family after having an incredibly full winter and spring at our home in Los Angeles.
What we felt from our 8 days on Ishigaki Island was the beautiful void and emptiness in our minds that resulted from the constant mode of simply being. Interestingly, we never knew how full and busy our minds were until we experienced how empty and still they could be.
The island is slow paced. No freeways. No crowdedness. It's surrounded by beautiful blue emerald ocean and corals and the land is covered in dark green jungle. It's so hot, humid, and high in UV that it's unbearable to be outside during the mid-day. But being out in the nature in the morning and early afternoon feels cleansing almost like being in the sauna room. We were lucky to have arrived right at the end of the island's rainy season.
Where we stayed:
As we usually do, we rented an Airbnb house which was a renovated traditional dwelling that had charming details of what used to be with updated kitchen and bathroom. Renting a house allowed us to cook most of our meals and had enough space for us to spend time and relax indoor during the hot mid-day. We journaled, studied, and wrote tons of postcards from our dining table. Girls played for hours with what we had at our home away home. Jumping between futon piles, making a pretend game with their beloved stuffed animals, and playing the game of Yahtzee with Frido...
Beaches in Ishigaki were beyond amazing. More than anything, we were taken away by how uncrowded these beautiful beaches were. Each beach has its own charm but one of our favorite beaches we kept going back was Yonehara Beach. We visited the beach at low-tide and mid-tide. We rented life vests at a general store located in the parking lot and enjoyed snorkeling for hours. The part of the beach had a sign for rip current warnings so we stayed close to the shore but sea life was abundant and full of exciting discoveries for all of us.
A day trip to Taketomi Island:
15 minutes ferry ride from Ishigaki Island took us to Taketomi Island which had visually stunning traditional dwellings and a village that has been preserved over time. We started the day as early as we could to beat the heat! We rented bikes and explored different parts of the island. Frido's favorite part was looking for a star-shaped sand that is truly unique to this island and Satchi's favorite part was riding a bike. I loved sitting at the beach and staring at the water...
Bits and pieces of delicious eats:
We didn't eat out a lot but here are some of our favorite finds!
This cafe was recommended by a lifeguard we met on our second day in Ishigaki. It was a warm day (as usual in Ishigaki) so all the other guests were eating inside but I LOVED sitting on the shaded patio. A perfect post-beach lunch with sand between our toes.
After eating a lot of Japanese noodles, we were ready for something else and we couldn't have asked for more! Great iced coffee, pizza, waffles...
I was in search of a traditional "Kaki-Gori" (shaved ice) in Okinawa. I told Frido that I wasn't going to leave the island until I find one. So I was thrilled to walk into this charming establishment in the city of Ishigaki. Flavors and ambiance were both exactly what I was looking for.
I knew that our stay in Ishigaki was necessary and essential because immediately after we arrived at Hamburg (our next and final destination for our summer travel), I started writing. Multiple new stories, ideas, and creative contents are getting ready for Baum-kuchen as I type this story. My creative juice is flowing again because I had an opportunity to empty my mind that has been overflown with a plate full of projects and responsibilities for last few months.
I am sure that I will continue to feel the effects of our time in Ishigaki for many days, weeks, months ahead. And that's why traveling is magical. Small or big. It shifts the course of our life just like that.