Exploring the Okinawan wilderness

18 May 2020 in In immersion

Ready for adventure? Experience a remote Japanese jungle at Hoshino Resorts Iriomote Island Hotel!

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You’re on a beach at sunrise on a subtropical jungle island. The waves lap gently against the white sandy shore. The water is crystal clear, revealing a magnificent coral reef glimmering beneath the surface. Behind you is your hotel. And just beyond, a world of wilderness is waiting to be explored.

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Should you pull on your snorkel and spend the morning admiring the colourful marine life? Head into the jungle to explore mangroves by kayak? Wander the trails for a chance of spotting the famed Iriomote cat? Or simply relax at the hotel’s pool and café?

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At Hoshino Resorts Iriomote Island Hotel, contemporary comfort combines with off-the-beaten-track adventure. You’ll stay at a remote location in the Yaeyama Islands on Japan’s southwestern tip. You’ll be at the heart of the Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park, known as Japan’s “last unexplored region”.

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And you’ll have the chance to glimpse some of the world’s most prized endangered species. It’s difficult to imagine a better place to truly get away from it all.

Style in the wild

Opened on October 1, 2019, Hoshino Resorts Iriomote Hotel is set beside a long beach on Okinawa’s second biggest island. Some 90% of Iriomote Island is dense jungle – and the hotel is an ideal base for exploring the extraordinary local flora and fauna.

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Wilderness may surround the hotel, but inside, the atmosphere is all about comfort. Whatever type of room you choose, it will be large.

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And you’ll have your own terrace and luxurious daybed couch. If you’re facing west, you’ll hear the waves gently breaking on Tudumarihama beach, with views of the East China Sea beyond. And if you’re east-facing, you’ll hear a morning chorus of jungle birds emanating from thickets of dark green foliage just outside your window.

Swimming and seafood

The hotel has all you need to relax after a day of exploration. The 21-metre long outdoor pool is sheltered from winds by swathes of bougainvillea and casuarina. Just a few metres away, the sandy beach invites you into the ocean.

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And the hotel spa offers everything from a Hibiscus footbath to a revitalizing treatment using cosmetics made from Okinawan coral and shell ginger.

At the restaurant, you’ll be able to sample creative local food such as wild boar brown sugar sukiyaki and Japanese blue crab.

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There’s plenty of room to eat outdoors, meaning you can enjoy a fresh-fruit breakfast with the first rays of sun.

Ephemeral beauty

In early summer, breakfast can wait until later. Why? Because this is the time to experience the extraordinary natural phenomenon of the Sagaribana powder-puff tree. From late June to mid-July, this unique plant produces brightly-coloured flowers that bloom for one night, then wither and die the next morning.

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Sagaribana grow along mangrove rivers – and, as the only place to house all seven species of mangrove native to Japan, Iriomote Island is the ideal place to see the “phantom flowers”.

In the early morning, you’ll board a kayak and paddle down one of the many rivers to see the celebrated powder-puff flowers gently falling to the surface – with the characteristic vanilla scent of Sagaribana floating in the air.

Natural wonder

The unique, exotic beauty of nature is everywhere on the island – and, at Hoshino Resorts Iriomote Island Hotel, you can take your pick from a remarkable number of activities.

In winter, why not head into the forest at dusk to catch the natural illuminations of Yaeyama fireflies? Just 5mm long, these tiny insects glow in groups of tens of thousands for around an hour after sunset. A mesmerizing sight.

How about snorkelling among turtles and clownfish in one of the world’s largest coral reefs?

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Watching the sun set as you paddle past mangroves on a SUP?

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Or, if you prefer hiking, the hotel can provide equipment – and you can head into the jungle for a chance of spotting rare species such as crested serpent eagles, yellow-margined box turtles and the endangered Iriomote cat.

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With sea, rivers, mountains and jungle in abundance, Iriomote Island offers almost every outdoor experience you could ever imagine.

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