My Tokyo Guide
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Updated: November 29, 2023
This guide is your jumping-off point to some of the best islands in Tokyo. From swimming, watersports and fishing to unforgettable seafood dishes, Tokyo’s Niijima and Shikinejima islands, with their surfing and sandy beaches, make for the perfect daytrip or overnight retreat.
Only hours from central Tokyo, Niijima Island is one of the most charming in the Izu Islands chain stretching south into the Pacific Ocean. You will find towering cliffs, white-sand beaches, big waves for surfing and soothing hot springs. To get to Niijima, head to Tokyo Takeshiba Pier and catch either a high-speed ferry (two and a half hours) or passenger ship (eight to nine hours); you can also grab a flight from Tokyo’s Chofu Airport (about 30 minutes). Bike rentals are available at several shops in the commercial area of Niijima.
One of the finest beaches in the Tokyo region, Habushiura is the longest on Niijima at 6.5 kilometers. This expanse of white sand covers most of the island’s east coast and makes an ideal spot for surfing—local shops offer rentals and lessons. There’s an excellent camping ground a few steps from the beach.
You may be familiar with the large Moyai statue outside Shibuya Station, a popular meeting spot, but did you know it came from Niijima? The island features enormous heads sculpted from native rock that evoke the massive heads on Easter Island. Moyai means “to come together” in the dialect of Niijima. The island is also renowned for its glassware artists that work with the volcanic rock containing 80% quartz. Their artworks, as well as those of visiting artists, are on display at the Niijima Glass Art Museum. The adjacent Niijima Glass Art Center hosts the Niijima International Glass Art Festival showcasing beautiful and intriguing creations fashioned from glass.
*The Niijima Glass Art Museum is closed as of September 2023
About 6 kilometers south of Niijima, Shikinejima is a small volcanic island bursting with hot springs and beaches for swimming. Only 3.7 square kilometers, Shikinejima can be toured on foot or rental bicycle, but note that it has hilly terrain. To get to Shikinejima from Niijima, take a ferry (about 15 minutes). To get to Shikinejima from central Tokyo, take a ferry from Takeshiba Pier (about 10 hours by regular ferry or 3 hours via high-speed jet ferry) or a flight from Chofu Airport (about 30 minutes to Niijima, then about 15 minutes by ferry).
Note that there are as few as three ferries per day connecting Niijima and Shikinejima. If you want to bicycle on Shikinejima, rentals are available locally.
Dramatic Jinata Onsen is one of the most spectacular seaside hot springs in Japan. Carved out of the craggy coast, Jinata is a collection of open-air pools with springs that are reddish-orange from their high iron sulfide content. The hot springs, said to help poor circulation and neuralgia, combine with seawater for a perfectly refreshing mix. Soak up the stunning scenery as you relax your body and soul. Bathing here is mixed. Be sure to wear a swimsuit.
Only steps away from the ferry terminal at the northern tip of the island, Tomari Beach looks like a picture postcard from the South Pacific. This beach on a small protected cove is ideal for sunbathing and, especially for people learning to swim, splashing around in the shallow waters. Nakanoura and Oura beaches are also accessible along the same road.