Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Izu Islands Part II: Shikinejima

In the previous blog post, I talked about our time on Kozushima. The second morning, we boarded the ferry and went about 50 minutes north to neighboring island, Shikinejima.
Shikinejima is very tiny. You can rent a bike and easily ride around the perimeter in a couple of hours. Or you can walk straight across from one side to the other in about a half hour.

We had some time to kill before we could check into our hotel, so we decided to hike over to the ruins of the Takamori Lighthouse. Up, up and up we climbed...
...until we reached the top, where there awaited a 3 foot tall "tribute", if you will, to the former lighthouse.  Kinda silly. But the view from up there was spectacular.

Our hotel was actually our own private bungalow, with a kitchenette and small living room. Nothing overly fancy, but it was nice to be on our own schedule. Would be a great place to bring a group of friends. The patio opened out  into a tropical jungle. There was a cacophony of sounds coming from the bugs and animals out there, but it was incredibly peaceful. I slept like a baby. The AC might have helped.
There was also no shortage of crazy flora. This palm thing sat on the ground and was 6 feet across. At least the plant life could be photographed. We tried to take a picture of the bat-size butterflies for about 20 minutes before we finally just gave up. Crazy freaks of nature wouldn't stay still.

Later in the afternoon we hiked down to the beach at Nakamoura, which the hotel owner told us was the best of the four beaches. For about $15, we each rented snorkel, mask and fins and headed into the clear blue water.

We saw a couple of classes worth of people learning to scuba dive. It seems like a really good place for it. As it was, just snorkeling was perfectly enjoyable for us. We saw a big variety of fish that were totally unafraid and would come right up to you, lots of beautiful coral, an eel and even some pufferfish!

Despite this being a 3-day weekend, we had the beach almost to ourselves.

That night we went to the new restaurant on the island, which was opened up by a martial arts instructor (his studio is next door). The place was decorated with blades and throwing stars and it served the best okonomiyaki we have ever had!  On the walk back to our bungalow we got some ice cream cones and looked up at the stars. This far away from the Tokyo lights, you could actually see the milky way and tons of constellations. A pretty amazing trip all and all.

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