To make a trip to the Far East even more adventurous, try island hopping around Japan's little-known Yaeyama Islands. NY1's Valarie D'Elia has the story.
For most Americans, the dream of taking a trip to mainland Japan is exotic enough. But imagine upping the ante on the faraway factor with a visit to the archipelago’s tropics, the Yaeyama islands, the most southern part of the Okinawan island chain.
“It’s not very well known, even inside of Japan,” Daan Jacobs from Hirata Tourism, Inc. said.
The hub for this idyll of isolation is Ishigaki island, an hour’s flight southwest of Okinawa's main island, where ferries make regular connections between spits of sand that rival the Caribbean.
While day trips are a popular and affordable option, those with the cash for a bit more splash can have a luxury stay.
As a guest of Hoshino Resorts, I arrived at my first stop by a 10 minute ferry to Taketomi Island, where the barely one-year old Hoshinoya Okinawa holds fast to the tiny island’s traditions.
Carefully built to the same code as the traditional houses in the village, Hoshinoya offers cultural excursions such as weaving local minsa cloth and taking a water buffalo cart through the traffic-less town.
Just 25 minutes from Ishigaki is Kohama island, where Hoshino’s family-friendly Risonare brand claims the only golf course in the Yaeyama islands, with two holes that are way above par, representing the most southern and western tees in all of Japan.
You don’t have to be a duffer to enjoy the overgrown beauty of the surrounding forest.
The jungle atmosphere gets even denser on Iriomote island, a 45 minute ferry from Ishigaki where the Risonare Nirakanai is the choice for adventurers who want to skim over coral-laden waters or dive below the surface.
The resort’s guides lead you into the jungle for daily treks through leafy paths to hidden waterfalls.
Somewhere in the brush lurks the infamous Iriomote wildcat, which only comes out at night.
For more information, visit global.hoshinoresort.com.