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Tokyo Islands Uncovered: Top Travel Tips & Sightseeing Gems

About the Tokyo Islands

As the capital of Japan, Tokyo is renowned worldwide as the largest metropolis and a thriving center of culture, industry, and fashion. However, there's more to the city than meets the eye. Despite being frequently overlooked by visitors and locals alike, Tokyo boasts several islands off its coast.

Tokyo comprises the mainland city and two main groups of islands: the 9 Izu Islands and the 2 Ogasawara Islands. These 11 serene islands are reachable by boat from Takeshiba and Yokohama or by air from Haneda. To learn more about these stunning islands, read our comprehensive guide.

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The Izu Islands

1. Oshima

Oshima is the largest and closest Izu Island to the mainland, making it a popular destination. The island is centered around Mt Mihara, a 758m volcano, which makes its environment unique and great for hiking. Walking tours and cycling trails are also available if you prefer a more relaxed way of exploring. Oshima is also known for its camellia festival, which takes place from late January to March.

Travel Time:  By Air – 25 minutes

By Boat – 1 hour 25 minutes – 6 hours

How to Get There: There are approximately 2 round trips daily from Chofu Airport in Tokyo to Oshima Island. When traveling by Boat, you can take a slower overnight cruise at around 6 hours or a high-speed jet boat to reach your destination in about 1 hour and 25 minutes.

2. Toshima

While Oshima is home to a camellia festival, Toshima is the best island to visit to bask in the local camellias. Up to 80% of the island is covered during the flowering period of November to March, making it ideal for lovers of flowers and nature. There is also a local pod of dolphins, and it is now possible to watch the dolphins and even go swimming with the dolphins. Despite being one of the smallest islands, Toshima is still a great way to experience untouched natural beauty with extensive sea life and flowers.

Travel Time:  By Air – 25 minutes + 10 minutes

By Boat – 2 hours 25 minutes – 7 hours 35 minutes

How to Get There: If traveling by Air, it is possible to reach Toshima by taking the plane from Chofu Airport to Oshima and then a short helicopter ride to Toshima. If traveling by boat, the overnight ferry takes at least 7 hours and 35 minutes, while a jet ferry takes 2 hours and 25 minutes. Taking a short ferry from Oshima is also possible if you are island-hopping.

3. Niijima

Niijima is well-known as an island for surfers. Surrounded by beautiful beaches with waves ideal for surfing, the island couldn't be more well-suited to water sports. This also includes standard swimming at the beach and diving. The island is also home to two large onsens, Yunohama, a mixed, swimsuit-required group of six onsen baths, and Mamashita, where you can enjoy standard onsen baths and sand baths. Niijima is also well-known for its glass-making. There are many local artists, shops, studios, and even a glass-making museum to explore.

Travel Time:  By Air – 40 minutes

By Boat – 2 hours 20 minutes – 8 hours 30 minutes

How to Get There: The plane from Chofu Airport takes about 40 minutes and runs 3-4 times daily. The overnight ferry runs daily and takes about 8 hours and 30 minutes from Takeshiba. The high-speed jet boat cuts the journey to around 2 hours and 20 minutes.

4. Shikinejima

Shikinejima is a smaller island surrounded by many coves and small beaches. It is an ideal diving area and very popular among keen divers. There are also courses on the island for those with little or no diving experience. There are many beaches where visitors can relax and enjoy the scenery, such as the beautiful coral at Nakanoura Beach. Several onsens are also available on the island, including Jinata Onsen, which is only available for a few hours a day due to the water's temperature.

Travel Time:  By Air – 40 minutes + 15-minute ferry

By Boat – 2 hours 20 minutes – 9 hours

How to Get There: It is possible to take a 40-minute plane to Niijima Island and then a 15-minute ferry from Niijima to Shikinejima. When traveling by Boat, there are the options of the overnight ferry, which takes about 9 hours, or the high-speed jet boat, which takes around 2 hours and 20 minutes.

5. Kozushima

Kozushima has a long and unique history surrounding the 574m mountain at its center, Mt Tenjo. It is possible to hike this mountain and see a wide variety of natural features that would usually be present in alpine environments. The Akasaki Promenade is also very popular, with its wooden walking trail and attached diving spots. The clear water and beautiful nature of Kozushima make it an excellent visiting spot.

Travel Time:  By Air – 45 minutes

By Boat – 3 hours 5 minutes – 10 hours

How to Get There: There are 2 – 3 round trip flights from Chofu Airport daily, a high-speed jet boat that takes a little over 3 hours, and an overnight ferry taking around 10 hours.

6. Miyakejima

Miyakejima used to be famous for its volcano's sulfuric gas emissions a few decades ago. However, it has been deemed safe for the last 15 years. Nevertheless, carrying a gas mask is still mandatory when visiting the island. But don't let this put you off, the local flora and fauna are alive and well, and this island is ideal for bird-watching enthusiasts with its wide variety of native birds. The coral reefs are also well-preserved, making it great for diving.

Travel Time:  By Air – 50 minutes

By Boat – 6 hours 30 minutes

How to Get There: There are 3 daily trips from Chofu Island in Tokyo, which takes around 50 minutes. There is also an overnight ferry which takes about 6 hours and 30 minutes.

7. Mikurajima

Mikurajima is a beautiful island with fantastic forestation for hiking throughout. It is also home to many dolphins that frequent the area, allowing for dolphin watching and swimming with dolphins. The island is a national park, which means there are certain restrictions on activities, like no cycling, and many activities require a guide. However, the island's natural beauty more than compensates for these limitations.

Travel Time:  By Air – 50 minutes + 10 minutes

By Boat – 7 hours 25 minutes

How to Get There: The fastest way to Mikurajima is to take the plane to Miyakejima and then a 10-minute helicopter ride to Mikurajima. Another option is to take the overnight ferry, which will take about 7 hours and 25 minutes.

8. Hachijojiima

Hachijojima is one of this group's larger and more popular islands, despite being one of the furthest away from Tokyo. There is an excellent variety of things to do in Hachijojima, from enjoying the native wildlife, including whales, dolphins, and turtles, to exploring the local culture and arts through kihachijo, a local dyeing and weaving technique. There are some great mountains to hike and a number of onsens scattered throughout these hiking trails to relax along the way.

Travel Time:  By Air – 55 minutes

By Boat – 10 hours 20 minutes

How to Get There: Hachijojima has two possible travel methods. There are 3 round trips to Hachijojima daily from Haneda Airport or the overnight ferry from Takeshiba for around 10 hours and 20 minutes.

9. Aogashima

Aogashima is the most southern island of all the Izu islands and is unique in that it has a double caldera. This has created several special geothermal features to explore. Aogashima is most well-known for its beautiful starry skies and inaccessibility, adding to the clear and beautiful features above. It is also home to a local sweet potato-based alcohol, Aochu, which is a great souvenir and a unique way to engage with the local culture of this tiny island.

Travel Time:  By Air – 55 minutes + 20 minutes

By Boat – 10 hours 20 minutes + 20 minutes

How to Get There: This is the only island of the Izu Islands not to have a direct route. Instead, you can take either of the direct ways to Hachijojima. Then there is a choice of a 20-minute helicopter ride or a 2-hour and 30-minute ferry to reach Aogashima. The helicopter is generally considered more reliable due to rough sea conditions in this area.

The Ogasawara Islands

10. Chichijima

Chichijima is well-known for its isolated, barely-touched state. This means there are many beautiful beaches, forested areas, and native wildlife to see. Chichijima is an excellent spot for whale-watching and visiting the local dolphins. The lack of light pollution also allows for fantastic star-gazing opportunities. There is also a large WWII shipwreck nearby, which makes for an exciting spot to explore.

Travel Time:  By Boat – approx. 24 hours

How to Get There: This island is only accessible by ferry 4 – 8 times a month. The ferry takes around 24 hours from Takeshiba to Chichijima, and there are no high-speed or Air options for Chichijima.

11. Hahajima

Hahajima is a great way to explore untouched, unspoiled nature and experience true isolation. Its remote status means that nature has been allowed to flourish, and trekking or hiking on this island is a unique and rewarding experience. It is also possible to see native whales, dolphins, and turtles.

Travel Time: By Boat – 24 hours + 2 hours

How to Get There: Hahajima has no direct route and can only be accessed by taking the 24-hour ferry to Chichijima and then a 2-hour ferry to Hahajima.

Expanding Your Horizons: Tokyo's Island Escapes

While the city of Tokyo on the mainland island of Honshu is exciting and fun, a great way to explore beyond the city is by taking a trip to one (or more) of the islands included in the Tokyo Prefecture. The 11 islands of the Izu and Ogasawara groups are hugely varied and have something for everyone, making this an ideal area to explore. From the beaches of Niijima to the culture of Hachijojima and the isolation of Hahajima, there is no end to the ways to enjoy these groups of islands.

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