LWIF EP12: Visiting Tokyo’s Izu Islands

Hello World! Did you know that Tokyo has islands? Yes, the prefecture (province/state) of Tokyo has a volcanic chain of islands called the Izu Seven Islands group. We stayed at Shikinejima (Shikine-jima), which is a small island 3 km long by 2.5 km wide that is located 160 km south of the city of Tokyo. To get there, we took an overnight ferry, where we slept on a carpeted floor.

It was a real surprise to find out that there are beautiful islands and with amazing water so close to Tokyo. When I thought of visiting a nice beach, Okinawa always came to mind. If you do some research on Shikinejima, the bay below is the famous beach you’ll often see.

In front of Tomari beach
In front of Tomari beach

The nice thing about Shinkinejima is that there’s lots of these little coves and bays around the island, and since it’s very small, you can visit all of them. There are electric bike rentals that you can use to tour around the island, and if you have a Japanese or international driver’s license, you can rent a scooter (I did, it was fun!)

Because the islands are volcanic and have geothermal activity, you can find hot springs (a lot of them free) to soak in. These are natural hot springs, so the temperatures can vary (be careful!) and the minerals may stain some bathing suits.

I specifically chose Shikinejima because I wanted to visit a quiet island that didn’t require taking buses or renting cars to get around. However, there are lots of islands and choices to choose from. Just a ten minute ferry ride away is Niijima, which is quite popular with surfers.

There are two sets of ferries that you can take: the jet ferry and the regular ferry. The jet ferry is of course more expensive, but it cuts down the travel time by a factor of 4. If you’re on a budget, the regular ferry is a good choice, especially since you don’t have to pay for accommodations when you sleep overnight. If you want to find out about the ferries, the operator is Tokai Kisen.

Maehama beach
Maehama beach
Viewpoint from Shikinejima  with Niijima behind us.
Viewpoint from Shikinejima with Niijima behind us.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do people regularly wear shirts while swimming?

When I first went swimming in Japan I was surprised to see that almost all the swimmers appeared to be wearing hoodies. They are actually a specialized clothing item called a rash guard. I think they’re mainly worn for two reasons: modesty and sun protection. I also think the clothing will depend on the type of crowd you find at the beach. For example, I just went to a beach at Kamakura and there were lots of young people there not wearing rash guards.

Higashihama beach in Kamakura - If you look closely lots of people aren't wearing rash guards
Higashihama beach in Kamakura – If you look closely lots of people aren’t wearing rash guards

How much did the trip cost?

It was a package deal that ran the equivalent of about $1,000 USD. It was for two adults and two elementary school children. The package included the regular and jet ferry rides, two nights stay, two breakfasts, and two dinners.

7 comments on LWIF EP12: Visiting Tokyo’s Izu Islands

  • Sarah Francis

    +60162469887

    • Sarah Francis

      Forgot to explain!

      Hi Aiko!

      Your video reminded me of my island visit last year. This picture was taken from Pulau Redang, Pasir Panjang (Redang Island, Long Beach) There were lots of colorful tropical fish and on the far right of the picture is Shark Bay where the baby sharks come to play. We can see them but not touch them! One excited little girl tried to carry the baby shark and got bitten! But don’t worry, she is alright! The baby shark bite was like a dog bite…still…OUCH! If I can find pictures of the fish and ocean from my albums, I’ll post them here. Keep up the good work you do and hope you had a great summer….school starts soon!

  • Sarah Francis

    The fish were busy eating me…

  • Mike Marcus

    Thanks for the post on Izu Islands. We went to Miyakejima while living in Tokyo and had a great time. The place deserves more tourism but is not popular with Japanese who usually prefer more exotic overseas locations. The island has suffered a lot from volcano problems in recent history but the peoplekeep bouncing back.

    Highlight of trip was a boat trip to swim with dolphins in open water near the island. Diving was also great!

    They don’t see many foreigners so visitors with little Japanese language skill need to be patient and plan well.

    • lifewhereimfrom (author)

      I just looked up the place on google and the images make it look so desolate. Must have been a neat experience. Swimming with dolphins in the open water would of course been fantastic. One of the reasons we didn’t make it the more southern Izu islands was because of the distance and cost. The family was so happy with the Shikinejima trip that they want to go again this year. Although I haven’t been to Shikoku and would like to visit there.

  • Kate

    HI Dad, could you share more about the package deal that you got and which guest house you stayed at? 🙂

    • lifewhereimfrom (author)

      Hmm… I didn’t book it, so I can’t say what it was exactly. It was a Japanese package that my wife and her sister booked (i.e. You would need to know Japanese to access it). I would normally say go to http://www.japanican.com, but, I don’t see any current packages there (although it may be because it’s winter right now and it’s not popular during the winter season).

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