Sun, sea and Ishigaki

Education | Katie Hung 11 Jul 2018

Water sports lovers and families seeking a summertime getaway to a seaside paradise need look no further than Club Med's resort on the Japanese island of Ishigaki, a mere two hours from Hong Kong.

Club Med Kabira Ishigaki offers magnificent sea views from its rooms and is a five-minute walk to the beach.

The resort has an extensive selection of water sports during summer and guests also get to enjoy the attractions that the island and nearby destinations have to offer.

Snorkeling offers an easy way to discover marine life, and a boat trip will let you admire stunning coral reefs in crystal clear water.

A fabulous snorkeling spot is right at the resort's beach, where all gear, including snorkel masks and life jackets, are conveniently available free of charge.

One can windsurf, paddle board or go kayaking, while the more adventurous will fancy a bit of scuba diving, available for both beginners and certified divers for a fee.

The resort also has activities for children of all ages. There are full-day cooking classes, dancing and handcraft-making for kids aged four to 10 at the Mini Club, while the Petit Club looks after tiny tots aged two to three for a fee.

Adrenalin junkies meanwhile will love the flying trapeze - a signature attraction at all Club Med resorts - that left me screaming with fear and delight.

Beyond the resort, there are comprehensive island tours available for an extra cost.

Resort manager Anna Wang said the full-day tour of Iriomote and Yubu islands is a favorite among the Japanese, who are nature lovers at heart.

While taking the mangrove forest tour to Iriomote Island, don't forget to step ashore and marvel at the massive 400-year-old Heritiera littoralis, commonly known as the "looking-glass tree," which rises 20 meters high.

The tour takes you from Iriomote to Yubu in a water buffalo-drawn cart through shallow waters, and during the 10-minute ride our guide entertained us with folk songs on a traditional three-stringed instrument called the shamisen.

We were also given an authentic taste of Okinawa in our bento (lunchbox), which featured a side of umi budou, a famous seaweed also known as "green caviar."

Another attraction is Taketomi Island's Star Sand Beach, so named because its sand grains are shaped like stars. The island is just a 15-minute ferry ride from Ishigaki.

Other tours include a half-day shopping tour of Taketomi and Ishigaki's town center.

While in town, check out Ishigaki's public market, which offers an amazing array of fresh fruit and meat, as well as Euglena Mall, to pick up your souvenirs.

On a breezy morning I tried my hand at fishing with a local angler who put me through my paces, right from making my bait to helping me catch my very first fish.

Fishing in 40-meter-deep turquoise waters, two kilometers away from the shore while gazing at the endless horizon, was an experience like no other.

If you're in the mood for fine dining, head to Kitauchi Bokujo, which serves up world-renowned Ishigaki beef grilled just the way you want it and after that, tempt yourself with an exotic cocktail at the Tingara bar.

Their must-try Kabira is made with awamori (an Okinawan distilled liquor), umeshu (Japanese sweet alcohol), orange juice and grenadine.

I ended my night star-gazing by the beach, listening to the waves crash onto the shore and watching shooting stars flash past - a perfect shutterbug moment.

Club Med currently has a four-day and three-night package to Ishigaki (excluding air fares) costing around HK$4,158 until the end of October. Daily meals and bar drinks are included as well as other activities like fitness classes and mountain bike rides.

The flight from Hong Kong to Ishigaki takes two hours on Hong Kong Express, the only carrier operating direct flights to the island, with departures taking place six days a week.

The resort is a 30-minute drive from Painushima Ishigaki Airport.

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