Our hotel on Tokashiki was very large and hotel-ish, and our Aka experience was the opposite. We stayed at Hanamuro Inn. As I mentioned before, the Pater Familias' Organizer Extraordinaire Friend (OEF) arranged everything, but when we started to have our own specific questions we emailed Masashi (email@example.com) and he answered promptly and clearly. (When we arrived he gave an eloquent speech about his English is not very good...you know how it goes! We never had a single issue with him not understanding us over the weekend.)
Usually, the Hanamuro accepts neither kids under 5 years old nor dogs, but as it was off season and our group had reserved all the rooms, he allowed it. And actually, they doted upon both Eva and the dog. They didn't charge anything for her, and our first afternoon there they laid out this white board for her (Eva) to torture us by making us try to draw animals. And the OEF was allowed to keep his dog and her kennel in the common porch area.
After we'd spent a couple of days there, I came to understand the no-young-kids thing. You really are all up in each others' grill, which is great if you are a group like we were, but if there were, say, some couples who were trying to have a quiet getaway, mixed with some couples with crazy kids, it could get awkward. There are 7 or 8 rooms with sliding glass doors that open directly onto a communal outdoor area with umbrellaed tables and two outdoor bathtubs (an idea I found slightly strange until I found myself on a drizzly, cool day sitting comfortably under an umbrella while Eva played happily in a warm bath, not missing the beach down the road one bit).
The rooms each had two single beds in them and were...quite cozy. We could just barely squeeze Eva's peapod onto the floor on one end of the beds, and piled our gypsy camp on top of itself at the other end. So pack light. Guests provide all of their own towels (although there was a hand towel in each room). One detail I liked was that there were four hooks with hangars in the room, which is really useful for beach stuff. Each room has an air conditioner which you control.
The showers and bathrooms were all communal; there are two toilet stalls and two bathroom stalls (all very nice on the inside). There are two sinks, out by the tables, so you get acquainted with your fellow guests right away. I forgot to switch to my quiet-tooth-brushing mode a few times, so I'm sure they wish they hadn't gotten to know me quite so well.
Bananagrams on a drizzly morning. Despite the outdoorsiness of the hotel, we didn't have much of a problem on our rainy weekend.
Masashi leads sea kayak tours of the area, including to different islands. The group that went had a fun and long trip and saw a sea turtle snorkeling. I was jealous when they left but not jealous when they were gone for several hours and missed lunch. Baby Due* would not have been pleased. I don't think it's even possible for me to eat enough granola bars to make up for missing lunch at this point in time, and certainly not during several hours of exercise. He also had fixed-gear bikes for rent, and seemed to have snorkel gear for borrow or rent (but we'd brought our own). There was a handy rinse-off area for gear.
The OEF's dog, pining away most piteously while he was kayaking.
The inn is just around the corner from the port and also from a beach where we spent most of our beach time:
A slightly longer walk (10-15 minutes with stroller) is what Masashi called the sea turtle beach, and sure enough we saw two there. A tactic we employed, since it wasn't overly warm, was to sit up on the sea wall until you spotted a turtle breathing, then go chase it down with snorkels. The snorkeling wasn't amazing around the island, but it was entertaining. And we saw weird thingies that looked like a mix between snakes and sea cucumbers. I'll try to post a video later. And of course, my first sea turtle was amazing!
There is also a beautiful beach on the other side of the island (definitely a drive away; we had our car, but I'm sure a ride could have been arranged with Masashi). We didn't swim at this one but would have liked to hang out there for a day if weather had been better. It was slightly remote but looked like there may be food shacks open there once it's high season:
Aka has one small town and food options are quite limited, but we did manage to find one open place that served good food every day. There are also a couple of small grocery stores, all in walking distance.
A note on the food: We thought the food was awesome. Dinner was all Japanese style (sashimi, which Eva LOVED, tempura, rice, tuna steak or fried fish, and soup) (actually pregnant me had a slightly hard time avoiding all of the raw stuff, but I was able to get enough food with the others). Breakfast the first morning was American-ish (coffee, eggs and French toast and such) but the second morning was soba and rice and a casual afterthought of coffee. It was absolutely fine for me, but it really didn't go over so well with some people; Masashi noticed and asked my husband about it**, as apparently visiting Europeans really get a kick out of Japanese style breakfast. The Pater Familias told him that, unfortunately, U.S. military people aren't always that into culinary adventure, and that coffee is really really important. The next morning they served us an elaborate, beautiful breakfast, with the coffee coming out first, followed by yogurt with mango and fried eggs and breakfast sandwiches.
A note on the drinks: We brought our own bar, which Masashi was...impressed with, perhaps. Thanks a lot for having caused this picture to be taken of me, guys. Obviously I was not partaking.
We highly recommend Hanamuro Inn and Akajima in general.
*Apparently I neglected to explain this before--"due", Italian for "two", is pronounced "doo-ay" (if you're from Texas...it's slightly more subtle but that's the best I can write out).
**My husband discovered after our ferry tickets were bought that he had to return home on Sunday instead of Monday, and there is no morning ferry back on Sunday. So Masahi arranged for him to take a mini-ferry/water taxi to Tokashiki, a taxi across Tokashiki to the port, and the express ferry back to Naha. Masashi, in short, is the man. He and his...wife?...walked the Pater Familias to the port to see him off on Sunday (and there asked about breakfast).