Thursday, January 7, 2010

Swimming with the fish!

The next morning we woke to brilliant sunshine and a cloudless sky, after munching through the delicious hotel breakfast we zoomed off to the airport on the fantastic monorail. After a short 1hr flight and what had seemed like a years worth of anticipation we landed on Ishigaki Island...a real tropical island... the reef that extends around the whole island could easily been seen from the plane and the turquoise blue water was so inviting!

We quickly found our accommodation, hired some snorkel gear and a car and headed off in search of blue water, a sandy beech and coral! The trusty tourist map lead us to a beautiful beach called 'Yonehara' and with the sun still warming our (my) bald head we donned the snorkel and mask and set forth into the deep blue. Literally 1m from the beach the coral began and the underwater world was truly spectacular.

All sorts of colored fish and coral greeted us and everywhere you turned it was like a new world to explore. The highlight would have to have been finding a real life NEMO family and spending a good 20mins watching them go about their fishy business. We spent most of the afternoon lapping it up and only when the mask had permanently etched a line in my face did we reluctantly get out. Back into the rental with smiles plastering our faces we carried onto Kabira bay, a stunningly beautiful bay with small islands and home to Japan's black pearl industry. With swimming banned here we splashed out on a glass bottom boat ride and spent the next 1/2hr peering through the glass at life under the ocean. Definitely worth it to see more amazing coral but our snorkeling still rated as a much better way to swim with the fishies.

As the sun was setting into the South China Sea we found a well positioned lighthouse and lookout to watch the sunset. Every tourist on the island also had the same idea! The rest of our time on Ishigaki was spent driving from one beach or lookout/lighthouse to another and enjoying wearing t-shirts and shorts again!

The town was easily explored on the free bikes from our hotel and it seemed we were a world away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life in Japan.