Is there such a thing as a ‘man-squeal’…?? If so, I made one. But more on that later…
Our last full day in Ishigaki was again a cracker, so we decided to take the public bus up to both Kabira Bay and Yonehara beach and just chill out (get the Y2000 five day pass, it’s worth it if you take more than one bus line during the five days!).
We’d heard that Kabira Bay was a ‘must visit’ location in Ishigaki, as it’s widely touted as one of the most beautiful locations in Japan. Besides looking good, it’s also famous for its black pearls, which is a bit of a bummer because it also means you can’t swim there! Instead, you can take a glass-bottomed boat out to the coral reefs that form a natural boundary between the azure lagoon and the deep blue sea, where you can (apparently) see the gorgeous coral and fish that are in abundance in the area. I say ‘apparently’ because we didn’t actually do the tour as it smacked of being a tourist-tarp, but judging by our experiences later in the day I’ve got no reason to doubt that it would be pretty nice.
As we had to catch a connecting bus through to Yonehara beach we could only spend around 40 minutes in Kabira Bay. Enough time to get a couple of shots of the bay, pat one of the cutest daschunds in the world, and try some incredibly delicious icecream/gelato (sugar cane and shikwasa for me, chocolate cookies and cream and caramel macchiato for Karen)!
We then grabbed some lunch from the local store and grabbed the bus across to Yonehara beach.
Yonehara is a very tiny town, home to only a couple of souvenir shops (heaps of shiisa, but that’s about it) and a camp ground. We walked down to the beach and found ourselves a nice spot under one of the sparse trees dotted along the coastline (later on we found an awesome spot right at the end of the beach (to the east) where there were some large rocks casting shadows onto the sand that made for a much more private and quiet experience).
The beach itself isn’t that fantastic to be honest as it consists of quite a bit of coral that has washed up onto the beach interspersed with good sand, together with some rubbish as well (surprising given how clean the rest of Japan has been).
But the average beach was more than compensated for by the super clear water (a comfortable temperature in the low 20’s I reckon) and huge amount of fish out in the shallows! I didn’t go out as far as the waves that were breaking on the reef, but I reckon the coral would be pretty good out there. The only thing that you need to watch out for is the fairly strong current drawing you out to sea. Not strong enough to be scary, but you wouldn’t want to be fatigued and trying to fight against it.
Then, the moment of truth arrived… ever since my first time snorkelling in Papua New Guinea I have had an abiding and (perhaps) irrational fear of sea snakes. They are bad enough on land where you can run away from the bastards at high speed, but in the water…well let’s just say that swimming isn’t the most effective way of distancing yourself from a sea snake in a prompt and effective manner!
Of course, I had to come face to face with a monster! At least 1.5m long and banded with iridescent blue stripes.
<Cue masculine ‘man squeal’>
I nearly shat myself… After an involuntary cross between a yelp and a moan I got my little arms churning at break-neck speed in an effort to make distance between myself and the evil, conniving, devil snake! Thank goodness he must have thought he’d already killed me with his steely gaze and hypnotic stripes, as he casually meandered off into the unknown. Didn’t stop me though! I was getting to dry land quick smart! It had to be the longest swim back to shore I’ve ever experienced (against the current of course)!
As I hauled my quivering carcass onto the safety of the rough, coral beach, I vowed never to venture anywhere near the water for the rest of my life…well, perhaps the rest of the afternoon anyway…
Speaking of which, the rest of the afternoon was spent participating in much more mundane, but inherently safe, activities such as reading on the beach, teasing hermit crabs with my finger-shadows, and generally soaking up the warm sun.
We then caught the bus back to Ishigaki where we got our bogan on and surreptitiously took some beers up to the blue bridge expertly hidden in our thermos, and watched the awesome sunset.
Dinner was at a random place in town where I decided to try a deconstructed hamburger, made with local Ishigaki beef mince. Sooo good!!! I never thought a pure beef patty could be so tender. It just melted in the mouth!
Karen had a more traditional Yaeyama soba…
A little bit sad, because this was our last full day doing ‘proper’ holidaying in Japan. Tomorrow is a transit day back to Tokyo before our flight home.