Banna Park playground adventures – Ishigaki

After the rubbish weather we’ve had recently, today was absolutely amazing! Blue skies and (thankfully) only a slight breeze from the north.

A few blogs and websites that we’d come across seemed to come to the same conclusion that Banna Park, just outside Ishigaki, was a little gem of a place. So Karen and I decided to risk life and limb on our bikes again and check the park out.

We took the main road (208) from the centre of town, riding for 3-4km  to the southern corner of the park. The road from Ishigaki has a massive sidewalk running down eastern side all the way, so we didn’t have to be worried about dodging traffic (thank goodness!). It was up hill all the way, but it’s only a gradual slope until you get to the last 1km before the park where it gets a little steeper. If we’d had geared bikes then it wouldn’t have been a problem at all, but the ratio on our bikes wasn’t too flash, so we ended up having to get off and push a couple of times. Overall I’d say that anyone of less-than-average fitness wouldn’t have a problem with this ride.

Banna Park is free entry, and is made up of four ‘squares’ located around its periphery. In anti-clockwise direction:

  • Stone Monument Forest Square (at the southern entrance) – a couple of reasonable gardens to look at;
  • Forest Passeo Square – heaps and heaps of awesome butterflies, lots of small walking trails;
  • Children’s Square – BMX track, play equipment, slides etc.. (lots of fun for immature adults!); and
  • Observation of Nature Square – a few walking trails through the forest and good views to the north of the island.

Banna Park southern entrance

Garden at the southern entrance to Banna Park

There’s a road linking all four squares, with numerous walking paths and trails to be found at each of the squares. There’s also a road that takes you up over the mountains in the centre of the park, but we thought trying that on our bikes would have been a little bit too ambitious!

The ring road generally consists of rolling hills that are all easy by bike, but there are a couple of steep bits that required us to again push our bikes (only about 10% of the road I’d say).

We had a great time (particularly at the Children’s Square :), and stopped off at the cafe located near the Observation of Nature Square for a great lunch. No english menu, but the waitress was able to give enough information for us to work out what was on offer! There is also a butterfly house adjacent to the cafe, but we didn’t go inside.

I actually got wedged in half way down!! Not sure what that’s saying about my recent eating habits…

Some kind of new dance maybe…??

Karen loves squirrels!

Andrew loves horses!

…a lot!!

…a WHOLE lot!!

The bridge at Forest Passeo Square

Lunch at the cafe. Pork, egg and greens on a bed of rice (ie. ‘tendon’).

One of the seats at the vending machine outside the cafe

We thought we’d try something a little different for dinner and went to a tiny cafe (Beach Cafe) that specialised in rice tacos. Again, a simple dish that works really well!

Rice taco (beef)

Beach Cafe in Ishigaki (at the western end of the northern mall)

We stopped by this awesome dessert bar on the main road and picked up a couple of crepe cones filled with cream, chocolate sauce, bananas and cake!

As we walking home we saw this little fella fly overhead…

Also had the privilege of seeing a Taiko drum group practicing down by the wharves. We heard them first, deep booming noises and then the chanting. Didn’t want to get too close to them and interrupt their ‘flow’ so I wasn’t able to get any photos, but I did get a (grainy) video that I’ll put up onto fb later.

Tomorrow is beach day!