Hokkaido and Okinawa

Take your own car on an adventurous trip to Hokkaido in the north and the beautiful paradise islands of Ishigaki and Iriomote in Okinawa. Overnight stays are at bed and breakfast, roykans, onsen and traditional inns.

If you long for hiking in national parks, swimming in onsens, eating the best Japanese food and snorkeling among colorful fish and corals, then this trip is just for you. See more about Japan on itypeusa.

Experience two of Japan’s extremes in this travel proposal to Hokkaido and Okinawa. The journey begins in the north with eight days of driving on Hokkaido. The route goes from the port city of Hakodate and via the scenic lake Toya, the onsen area Noboribetsu, the historic Otaru, the stunning landscape of Daisetsuzan National Park, the floral splendor of Furano and the beautiful blue pond Aoiike at the city of Biei.

From here you fly to the best of Okinawa, namely the islands of Ishigaki and Iriomote. Beautiful paradise beaches await you, rock diving, colorful fish and coral snorkeling, hiking on forested mountains, kayaking along rivers and mangrove trees and plenty of relaxation.

Day 1: Aresa from Scandinavia

Aresa from Scandinavia to Japan with arrival the next day.

Day 2: Arrival Hakodate

Today you arrive in Hakodate and take yourself to your hotel. For the next two days, you have the opportunity to explore Hokkaido’s third largest city on your own. Enjoy the sunset from Hakodate Mountain Observatory and dine on Hokkaido’s most delicious seafood at the harbor.

Day 3: On a voyage of discovery in Hakodate

Hakodate was one of the first Japanese cities to open its port for trade with the West in 1859, which can still be seen in the architecture as you move around the districts of Ekimae, Motomachi and Goryokaku. A must is to visit Hakodate’s Orthodox Church, built during the Meiji Era and the Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse, which is now a shopping mall. Another must is Goryokaku Park, an old fort that is today a popular recreation area for locals. ( F )

Day 4: Hakodate to Toya Lake by car (172 km)

Today you pick up your car at Hakodate train station and set course for Lake Toya. You can choose to stop at Onuma Quasi National Park. Here is Mount Oshima-Komagatake, an active stratovolcano surrounded by the lakes Onuma and Konuma. There are plenty of opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, kayaking and more. From Onuma Quasi, follow Uchiura Bay to Lake Toya. The lake is located in Shikotsu-Tōya National Park, which in 2008 was the site of the G8 summit in Japan. In addition to the beautiful lake, which can best be seen from the Silo Viewing Platform, you will also find hot springs and the active Usu volcano in the area. ( F , M )

Day 5: Toya Lake via Noboribetsu to Otaru by car (212 km)

Enjoy the beautiful sunrise over Lake Toya from the Silo Viewing Platform. You can choose to make a detour to one of Hokkaido’s best onsen areas on Noboribetsu. Via hiking trails you can visit several of the hot springs in the Jigokudani Valley, also called Hell Valley due to the steam and the boiling water bubbling out of small cracks in the frozen ground. From Noboribetsu you continue to Otaru. Enjoy a walk along the historic Otaru Canal and taste Hokkaido’s best sushi. ( F , M )

Day 6: From Otaru to Daisetsuzan National Park in your own car (226 km)

Otaru created its wealth of herring fishing in the 19th century, where herring barons built large palaces that you can still experience today, such as the Aoyama Villa. You can take the cable car up to the top of Tengu Mountain and get a great view of the city. From Otaru, continue towards Daisetsuzan National Park. Along the way you can stop in Sapporo, the 1972 Winter Olympics city that also has a fantastic beer museum. ( F , M )

Day 7: Onsen and hiking in Daisetsuzan National Park

You have the day all to yourself to explore Daisetsuzan National Park. Jysk Travel Agency recommends that you spend it trekking to Hokkaido’s highest mountain Asahidake (2290m), a wonderful hike through tundra and alpine landscapes. After this wonderful hiking trip, you can in the most exquisite way possible nurture your sore joints in one of the city’s onsens. ( F , M )

Day 8: Daisetsuzan National Park to furano in own rental car (72 km)

Enjoy the morning in Daisetsuzan National Park, where you will find plenty of short hiking trails. At noon you set course for Furano and it is recommended that you stop at the blue pond in Biei. Furano is best known for its fantastically beautiful lavender and flower fields, which every year from the end of June to the end of August stand in beautiful contrast to the alpine landscape. ( F , M )

Day 9: From Hokkaido to Ishigaki by air (125 km)

Today the trip goes to Sapporo Airport, where you drop off your car and fly to the Yaeyama Islands’ main island Ishigaki. You take yourself to your accommodation on the island where you have three nights. ( F )

Day 10-11: Relaxation and adventure at Ishigaki

After lots of experiences, hikes and impressions on Hokkaido, it’s time for relaxation. You have two full days at Ishigaki without a program. Ishigaki is the most developed of the Yaeyama Islands and offers fantastic beaches and equally fine snorkeling. For diving, Manta Scramble at Kabira Bay is a must. Here you can dive around with the impressive devil coats and enjoy swimming on the island’s best beaches Yonehara, Sukuji and Sunset Beach. There are also plenty of opportunities to take a day trip to the smaller islands of Taketomi and Kohama, which are also known for their beautiful beaches and fascinating underwater life. ( F )

Day 12: By ferry to Iriomote

today the journey continues by ferry to Iriomote. After a beautiful boat trip in less than an hour, you arrive in Iriomote, pick up your car and drive to your accommodation. By car you get plenty of opportunities to explore the island’s beautiful nature and various wildlife. ( F )

Day 13-14: On a journey of discovery at Iriomote in your own rental car

You have the next few days on your own at Iriomote. The island has mangrove forests, rivers that you can explore in a kayak and lots of hiking opportunities on the rainforest-covered mountains. Around the island you will find one of Japan’s richest coral reefs, so put on your snorkel mask and explore the colorful fish and corals. If you are lucky, you can also see a Yamaneko, a very rare feline that is best seen in the evening. ( F )

Day 15: Ferry to Ishigaki and return to Scandinavia

Overnight stays

Two nights at a tourist class hotel in Hakodate
One night at a B&B on Lake Toya
One night at a ryokan in Otaru
Two nights at a tourist class hotel with onsen in Daisetsuzan National Park
One night at a tourist class hotel in Furano
Three nights at a traditional budget resort on Ishigaki
Three nights at a traditional budget resort on Iriomote

Hokkaido and Okinawa