12 Dec 2016: The last rays of the sun had just disappeared over Ago Bay when we arrived at the hotel yesterday evening. From a distance in fading light the bay looked like a dense tropical forest devoid of form. So we had a pleasant surprise next morning when the view of the bay unfolded before us over breakfast from the restaurant’s full glass windows.
Ago Bay is best viewed from above to appreciate its full beauty. Located at the southern tip of the Shima Peninsula, the bay consists of 50 small islands spread haphazardly across a calm bay sheltered from the harsh currents of the Pacific Ocean. The bay is famous for pearl cultivation with many floating oyster rafts. The clean water with slow currents are ideal for pearl cultivation. The art of pearl cultivation was first mastered by Mikimoto Kokichi who grew up on the Shima Peninsula not far from Ago Bay.
Hotel Kintetsu Aquavilla Ise-Shima sits on elevated ground like a sentinel overlooking Ago Bay. After a full breakfast it felt appropriate for a walk along the trails around the hotel to burn off the excess calories. The well marked trails took us around the sprawling hotel grounds and lookout points with a closer view of the bay.
Kashikojima España Ago Bay Cruise
After lunch we took a short drive from the hotel to Kashikojima, the largest island on Ago Bay for a cruise around the islands (GPS: 0599-43-1023). Kashikojima España Cruise operates a cruise with a replica of a 14th century Spanish ship named the Esperanza (¥1600 pp). The 50-min cruise took us between the small islands with a short stop at a pearl factory where we learned about cultured pearls and observed the process of implanting a nucleus into the Akoya oyster which is a mother of pearl.
Onboard we braved the cold winter air on the open deck so as to soak in the serenity of the bay and the jagged coastlines of the isles up close.
Yokoyama Observation Deck
Other than getting up on a helicopter, the best view of Ago Bay is from the Yokoyama Observation Deck located on the slopes of Mount Yokoyama. At 200 meters above sea level the lookout point offers a panoramic view of the bay.
- Hotel Kintetsu Aquavilla Ise-Shima Review
- Day 1: Nagoya to Ise-Shima
- Day 3: Scenic Drive From Shima to Shingu
- Day 4: Paying Homage to the Historic Shrines of Kumano
- Day 5: Driving From Shingu to Kyoto via Nara
- Day 6: Exploring Arashiyama and Ancient Kyoto
Also read my tips on using GPS and ETC in Japan.