Did you know that Tokyo also consists of several scenic islands? The area of the Tokyo Islands refers to a large area with a total of 219 islands of different sizes, dotted around the sea area. 11 of the islands belong to a group of islands known as Izu Islands or Ogasawara Islands and together are being called the Tokyo Islands. Some of them are inhabited and all offer beautiful natural scenery, that attracts many tourists. Some islands even feature unique plants and animals that are only found here, since they were never connected to the Japanese mainland! Technically you don’t have to leave Tokyo for beaches, dolphins and jungles, and other beautiful spots and exciting outdoor activities. You just need to board a ferry or a plane.
The Izu Islands are the closest islands located to Tokyo and are great for a getaway for onsen, sushi, and nature lovers. Ogasawara Islands are a chain of small sizes volcanic islands, located about 1,000 km south of Tokyo Bay. They are known for their coral reefs, subtropical terrain, and rocky cliffs. The islands of Ogasawara are also designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Both Izu Islands and Ogasawara Islands are accessible by (overnight) boat and ferry services from several locations in Tokyo, Shizuoka, and Chiba. Alternatively, you can board a flight to Oshima Island. Especially during the summer season, a number of people visit the islands to escape the concrete jungle of Tokyo and to enjoy marine sports and sea bathing on scenic beaches. In this article, we help you learn the highlights of each island and how to get there!
1. Oshima (大島)
Oshima is the biggest island among the Izu islands and is located about 100 km south of Tokyo. Miharayama is a giant mountain standing in the heart of the island, which offers several beautiful hiking and trekking courses. Hike up the active volcano to see its amazing geographical features from up close. At the base of the mountain, a desert called Ura Sabaku is completely covered with black volcanic soil and rocks. The dynamic landscape looks similar to the surface of the moon! When you drive the road along the scenic coastline, you will see the strata, layers of sedimentary rocks, and soils made by a volcanic eruption around 15,000 years ago. The volcano also makes Oshima has some great natural hot spring. Many onsens can be found around the islands. If you are more into beaches and sea life, visit the north and west part of the island, where you can enjoy water activities or just relax on the beach.
How to get to Oshima
Take a high-speed boat departing from Takeshiba Passenger Ship Terminal in Tokyo (~1h45m, ¥7,500-¥8,500) or a regular ferry (6-8 hrs, ¥4,500 – ¥5,500). You can also take a plane from Tokyo or Chofu Airport (30min, ~¥10,000).
2. Toshima (利島)
Toshima is a small island with a population of 300 living in harmony with the rich nature, Toshima is known for the many beautiful camellia flowers growing on the island. From Tokyo, you can get there by a high-speed boat. It is also conveniently accessible from Oshima by helicopter, which will definitely be an amazing experience! Enjoy a relaxing hike at Mount Miyatsuka, with an observatory offering a panoramic view of the island and Mt. Fuji on a sunny day! It is also known as a perfect spot for stargazing at night. In the spring and summer seasons, you have to chance to swim with wild dolphins in the ocean. It is a wonderful experience to swim with the dolphins in the crystal-clear water! There are several guesthouses (minshuku) located on the island that can be found on Toshima Island’s website.
How to get to Toshima island
Take a high-speed boat departing from Takeshiba Passenger Ship Terminal (~2h25m, ¥7,920) or the overnight ferry (9-10 hrs, ¥5,000).
3. Niijima (新島)
Located about 160 km south of Tokyo, Niijima attracts a number of tourists who enjoy marine sports especially surfing and diving as the conditions are the best. It has a lot of beaches in different locations, and you can choose the perfect one depending on the weather and wave condition. Take a relaxing stroll on the white sandy Habushiura Beach while feeling the sea breeze. Rent a bike to get around the island and spot unique stone statues created by local people. The island is also famous for its glass art, visit Niijima Glass Art Museum which houses a large collection of glass works by inspiring artists.
How to get to Niijima
Take a high-speed boat departing from Takeshiba Passenger Ship Terminal (~3hrs, ¥8,930) or the overnight ferry (10-11h, ¥6,000). The island also has an airport, you can take a plane from Chofu Airport (40min, ~¥14,000).
4. Shikinejima (式根島)
Shikinejima is another small volcanic island, perfect for a weekend trip from Tokyo! The island accessible by high-speed boat from Tokyo in less than 3 hours. Once you arrive at Nobushi Port, head to Tomari beach which welcomes you with the sandy beach and calm waves perfect for sea bathing, snorkeling and fishing. The island is the perfect place to recharge with its beautiful nature and many free onsen. Visit Kanbiki Observatory which offers breathtaking views of the ocean, giant rock formations, and the scenic coastline. There are several ryokan and guesthouses located on the islands or you can bring your tent and camp on the island!
How to get to Shikinejima (from Tokyo)
Take a high-speed boat departing from Takeshiba Passenger Ship Terminal. (~2,5 hrs, ¥8,930 ) or the overnight ferry (11h, ¥5,980).
5. Kozushima (神津島)
Looking for somewhere enjoyable for the whole family? Kozushima is the family-friendly destination with a range of outdoor activities and exciting experiences in nature for both adults and children. Add to that the scenic beaches and camping sites, and you will understand why it is is an ideal spot to spend a great time with your family during the summer season. Maehama Beach is a nice sandy beach stretching about 800 meters on the southern coast of the island, with incredibly clear sea water and a number of accommodations nearby. Mt. Tenjo, the highest mountain on the island offers several hiking courses, for both the more adventurous travellers as well as those who like to enjoy a short hike. Akasaki Boardwalk is definitely one of the must-visits of the island, here you can enjoy snorkeling or diving in the natural pool surrounded by giant rocks.
How to get to Kozushima
Take a high-speed boat departing from Takeshiba Passenger Ship Terminal. (~3,5 hrs, ¥9,510.) or the overnight ferry (12 hrs, ¥6,340) The island also has an airport, you can take a plane from Chofu Airport (50min, ~¥15,000).
6. Miyakejima (三宅島)
Miyakejima is a volcanic island located about 180 km southeast of the main island of Japan. The unique landscape was created by lava from a series of eruptions over centuries. Mount Oyama is a symbolic volcano which has repeatedly erupted in the past. Some part of the island is now covered with black lava caused by the eruption, and visitors can observe them closely from the boardwalks. Due to its volcanic activity, this island isn’t visited by large crowds of tourists, making it the perfect place to go off-grid. It is also a perfect spot for birdwatching with over 250 types of (rare) wild birds. When you visit the island between March and November, you have a big chance to see dolphins visiting from the nearby Mikurashima Island.
How to get to Miyakejima (from Tokyo)
Take a night boat service departing from Takeshiba Passenger Ship Terminal (~6h30m, ¥6,690).
7. Mikurashima (御蔵島)
The volcanic island of Mikurashima is a beautiful natural park about 190 km south of Tokyo. It boasts a blue ocean and natural environment with many special plants and animals living there. You can enjoy a refreshing hike on the Mount Oyama, in the center of the island. Another highlight of the island is a swimming experience with wild dolphins. Being a national park, cycling or camping is not allowed on the island, and all hiking and dolphin swimming must be done with a guide.
How to get to Mikurashima (from Tokyo)
Take a night boat service departing from Takeshiba Passenger Ship Terminal (~7h30m, ¥7,300).
8. Hachijojima (八丈島)
If you are a great hiker looking for adventurous experience, visit Hachijojima, a sub-tropical island approximately 287 km away from Tokyo. Mount Hachijo-Fuji is the highest peak in the whole Izu island group. The hiking course may seem challenging, but once you reach to summit you will be rewarded with a stunning panoramic view! Explore the forests and intact nature which is a home to a variety of wildlife and plants. Unwind at the outdoor hot spring facility Miharashi-no-yu, situated on a hillside 94 meters above the sea level. It will help you feel refreshed and get rid of fatigue while soaking in the amazing view of the ocean!
How to get to Hachijojima
Take an overnight ferry departing from Takeshiba Passenger Ship Terminal (10h20m, ¥8,150). Flights to Hachijojima are also available from Haneda Airport (55 min, ¥15,000).
9. Aogashima (青ヶ島)
Aogashima is the southernmost island among the inhabited Izu island group. Its’ unique geographical features attract and fascinate a number of researchers and explorers. The entire island is actually a giant crater, with another smaller volcano in the center of it. The current form of the island was created by a volcanic eruption in 1785, and most part of the island remains untouched. There are 6 small houses where you can rent a private room or stay at the free camping site. Reservation is required for all accommodation before you visit the island.
How to get to Aogashima
You can only access Aogashima from Hachijojima. Regular boat service is available, but can these can be cancelled due to bad weather, make sure to check the time schedule in the morning.
Helicopter is another option to travel to Aogashima (reservation is required).
10. Chichijima (父島)
If you have a couple of days to experience the islands life of Tokyo, Chichijima could be a perfect destination for you. Located approximately 1,000 km south of Tokyo, it fascinates visitors with a number of beautiful beaches with different features. Enjoy sea bathing at Komitato Beach known for calm waves. Miyanohama Beach is great for snorkeling and diving with the beautiful coral reefs and colorful fish. Visit Ogamiyama Park, where you can learn about the history and ecosystem of the island. Another recommended activity is a guided tour to visit the small uninhabited island Minamijima which is only accessible by canoe or boat.
How to get to Chichijima
The only way to reach this remote islands is by a special boat called Ogasawara-maru which operates every three or four days during the peak season. The trip starts at Takeshiba Passenger Ship Terminal and will take around 24 hours.
11. Hahajima (母島)
Hahajima, in the Ogasawara Archipelago, is the farthest island from Tokyo, located about 50 km south of Chichijima. The two islands are designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites and also known as The Galápagos of the Orient. Since there is no direct transport from Tokyo, it is quite a journey to get there. We recommend to combine your visit with a stay at Chichijima too. Joining a guided tour is a perfect option to explore the remote island, tour options include trekking in a tropical forest, diving or snorkeling in the beautiful ocean, stargazing at night, and more! If you prefer spending time on your own, you can also easily walk around the small island yourself.
How to get to Hahajima (from Chichijima)
There is no direct transport that takes you to Hahajima from Tokyo. Take a special boat called Hahajima-maru from Chichijima (2 hrs). Make sure to check their timetable prior to your visit.
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A visit to the Tokyo Islands will give you an opportunity to relax and unwind in untouched nature and escape from the crowded city life. All the islands have an amazing rich nature to offer, with beautiful beaches, diving spots and great waves for surfing. The rich marine life makes the Tokyo Islands popular destinations for snorkelling, diving, whales and dolphin watching. Pick your favorite island and make your trip a memorable one!
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