Looking for some travel inspiration? This unspoiled Japanese island could be just what you’re looking for.
TripAdvisor is the go-to resource for anyone looking for travel tips, so when we heard that the reviews website had revealed its most hotly anticipated destinations for 2018 we couldn’t wait to add them to our wanderlust-list.
Every year the reviews website looks at the increased amount of booking interest in new travel hot spots and at positive reviews across a range of sectors including restaurants and attractions. The locations that show the most growth become heralded as part of TripAdvisor’s Top Destinations on The Rise, a top ten list which acts as a head’s up for the coming year’s travel trends.
And this year, a particularly blissful spot has made its way to the top. Island Ishigaki is a white-sanded heaven in Japan’s southwestern Okinawa Prefecture. Surrounded by the clearest of waters with idyllically topaz-blue skies for a backdrop, it’s pretty picture perfect.
Ishigaki is the commercial hub of a group of islands known as Yaeyama and as well as beautiful beaches, it’s known as a must-see for those who love water-based activities, thanks to it’s abundance of snorkeling, diving and surfing sites.
Interestingly, although the island is Japanese, its culture is also influenced by Taiwan thanks to sitting only 300km off its north eastern coast. Between those in the know, the island is also famous for its natural beauty. Although it doesn’t hold as many man-made landmarks, the capes of Uganzaki and Hirakubo, along with the peak of Mt. Nosoko and the emerald green waters of Kabira Bay, are guaranteed to blow anyone that visits away.
TripAdvisor advises those planning on travelling to this newly appointed hot-spot not to “just stand on the beach and stare, travellers recommend a ride in a glass-bottomed boat to gaze at the coral reefs and tropical fish from above.”
Inspired by this magical sounding experience, we’ve done some research (any excuse to indulge our wanderlust) and picked out three absolute must-dos for those who want to be the first of their friends to explore this next big thing.
The Tamatorizaki Observatory is a beautiful view point on Ishigaki Island with 360 views of spectacular scenery which stretches out for miles around. It’s one of the only places that you can view the Pacific Ocean and East China Sea at the same time and is famed for the brightly-coloured flowers that grow on the surrounding hills all year round.
The main viewing point is a 10 minute up-hill walk from the parking area as most visitors tend to drive most of the journey which is said to be around 40 minutes from downtown.
The Uganzaki Lighthouse marks the north west point of the Sakieda peninsula, which is located on the Ishigaki’s west coast. The views from this spot are said to be breath-taking and thanks to the dramatic rock face that juts out from beneath the lighthouse, the area is revered as a must-see part of the island.
For an especially magical experience visit at sunset, when the sky fills will Instagram-worthy pastel hues.
Ishigaki is home to a series of limestone caves which are huge natural caverns filled with other-worldy looking stalactites. The enormous underground space is said to look almost like a castle and is sometimes lit with atmospheric lighting which enhances the spindly limestone features.
Many moons ago the caverns existed underwater, a fact that can be proven by the fossils of clams and ancient coral which can be pointed out to visitors by a guide. For a fee, guests can wander through the tunnels and gain access to the gift shop and restaurant on site.
But if Japan isn’t sitting high on your priority list for your next expedition, you might be interested to see the other hot-spots TripAdviser has pegged as places-to-be this year. Check out the top ten list below:
10. Casablanca, Morocco
9. Nerja, Spain
8. Rovinj, Croatia
7. Riga, Latvia
6. San Jose, Costa Rica
5. Gdansk, Poland
4. Halifax, Nova Scotia
3. Nairobi, Kenya
2. Kapaa, Hawaii
2. Ishigaki, Japan
Excuse us while we add visiting these incredible sounding places to our New Year’s resolutions list.
Images: Nick Karvounis / Instagram