2.5 hours away from the perfect family-friendly
Living in Hong Kong definitely has it’s perks. A vacation to any part of Southeast Asia is literally a few hours away, giving us the option to fly for a quick weekend getaway or a family vacation on a whim. One spot that has all of us at Sassy HQ talking about is Okinawa. Located on the southernmost part of Japan, it’s often referred to as the “Hawaii” of the East. Vastly different from it’s more popular sister destination, Tokyo, Okinawa is known for it’s stunning views, great outdoors, unique culture that’s steeped in history and a population that lives past 100 years old (hello, centenarians!). Okinawa is your unexpected adventure vacation spot.
HK express has five daily flights from Hong Kong to Ishigaki Island, Okinawa. At just under 2.5 hours away, you’ll enter into a holiday packed with adventure, history, irresistible food and views upon views. With plenty of activities to engage in, Okinawa is the perfect holiday spot for families.
Click through our slideshow to see our top five picks we’re dying to try out with our fam!
One of the benefits of Okinawa as a holiday destination is its proximity to many other islands that surround it. One being Taketomi, known for it’s large coral reef which is teeming with sea life (colourful fish, sea anemone, clams, and an occasional sea turtle to name a few!). Take your “I spy with my little eye” game to a whole new level with the kiddos as you board a glass bottom boat to take in the underwater sights. The island itself has maintained its local charm with traditional Kawara style, red tiled roofed houses that make for the perfect photo op. Carts drawn by water buffalo bring tourists around the village whilst the driver shares traditional folk stories and songs. If playing in the sand is more your kiddo’s speed, there is also a bus tour that brings you to the uniquely shaped crescent Kaiji beach with its star shaped sand. How’s that for out-of-the-ordinary, mamas?
Twinkle, twinkle little star… take your kids on a star gazing experience on the Yaeyama Islands where over 84 of the known 88 constellations can be seen! Due to it’s unique geographic location close to the Tropic of Cancer – the starry night sky is one to behold and completely unlike the “city of lights” we’re used to in Hong Kong! The viewing area is close to Miyara Bay where you and family can relax on reclining seats and a guide points out stars and planets through a telescope provided. This is definitely an evening you’ll write home about, mamas!
Become one with nature and venture into the unspoilt forests and rivers of Iriomote. See the island in a whole new light by kayaking along the mangrove tree forest that runs along the Nishida River. At the base kayaking station, hike into the forest and take in the stunning views of Sangara Waterfall. This activity is perfect for older children who love a bit of exploring. Make some family memories and snap a few pics while walking along the river bank and enjoying a picnic at the base of the waterfall.
If you’re traveling with older children or teens, venture out a little further into the jungle on a zip lining adventure. Explore the natural environment and rich eco-system that Ishigaki is known for. You’ll get a chance to see unique plants native to the island and animals up-close. There will be 5 different zip lines throughout the tour giving you an unique vantage point and plenty of picture opportunities for the fam. A great bonding activity that is couples adventure with the great outdoors, – a win-win in our books!
Ready to get your hands dirty? Get the whole family involved in making your own souvenir to take home this holiday. Ishigaki and the Yaeyama islands are famous for their local weaving and dyeing techniques (commonly known as “Bingata”). Spend two hours on a local indigo farm and studio where you’ll get the inside scoop on how this expensive dye is produced locally from plants grown on site. The eco-friendly workshop is hosted by local teachers who will show you how to apply traditional techniques to dye your very own fine linen woven scarf (which also makes for a great nursing cover or baby swaddle!). Just note that you’ll be working with dye… this activity does not call for an all white ensemble, mamas! Protective gloves and an apron will be provided.