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Tokyo is a mega metropolitan city full of lively vibes with super unique modern cultures and interesting historical elements. Surprisingly, there are many islands that you can easily visit on a day trip or a weekend. On these remote islands of Tokyo (called Izu-shoto), you can witness the totally unexpected faces of Tokyo. You can either spend your time actively or just relax on these islands with unique nature and gastronomical culture. Snorkeling, fishing and surfing are very popular activities. As Izu-shoto are peaks of the submerged volcanic chain, there are many onsens (hot spring) on different islands. Soaking in nature setting onsen and gazing at the deep blue sea becomes one of the unforgettable views. It is possible to do island hopping, but if you have only a day or two, why not focusing on one island only? If you opt for Niijima, you will experience completely unexpected Tokyo's heavenly island vibe.
Access to the Izu-shoto islands is surprisingly convenient. There are 11 islands for tourists to choose from. All the boats depart from Tokyo Takeshiba pier in Minato ward of Tokyo, located only a few minutes from Takeshiba train station. Depending on how much time you have and how isolated you would like to be, you can take a day trip to Niijima. However, if you have time, an overnight stay or two in Niijima is highly recommended to soak up the authentic Niijima vibe.
Niijima is located 160 km south of Tokyo, and the size of the island is approximately 28 km2. Niijima is famous for its surfing and swimming beaches with crystal clear water. It takes only about 2 hours and 50 minutes by speed boat from Tokyo. Once you land in Niijima, you would not believe that you are in Tokyo. The breathtaking view of the ocean in Niijima is just heavenly. Niijima often holds word-class surf competitions. There are rental car shops and rental bicycle shops to support your independent exploration of the island. You can rent a surfboard locally, so it is not required to have a surfboard with you. Many visitors also enjoy snorkeling at Niijima.
There are 5 surf points where each point has unique features and suits different levels. There are also 5 swimming beaches around the island. Each beach has a unique feature to offer. Habushiura Beach offers 7 km of white sand, Motomura Maehama Beach has a floating island, Mamashita Beach is close to natural hot springs, Kurone Beach is located next to the cruise pier and close to eateries, while Wakagou Maehama Beach is perfect for snorkeling. My tip would be to rent a car and go on the beach hopping to experience amazing Niijima beaches.
There are two onsens (natural hot sprints) right next to the sea. One is Yunohama Roten onsen, which opens 24 hours every day of the year. The unique architecture of Yunohama Roten onsen reminds you of ancient Greece. You are required to wear a swimming suit, but there is a foot onsen in the premises, so you can experience the onsen even you do not have swimming suit. The sunset view from Yunohana Roten onsen is just gorgeous.
There are a few eateries on Niijima, and Izakaya Nihonbashi is highly recommended as it offers local delicacies, including island sushi. If you are not a fish eater, a few eateries on the island offer western food (and a yummy bakery). There are three temples on the island, Miyatsukuri temple, Jyuusansha temple and Daisanooji temple. Daisanooji temple is the smallest temple, located on the top of Mt. Daisan, to the east of Niijima port. It is surrounded by thick forest, and the worn-down 400 mossy stone steps highlight the temple's majesty. Do not miss the gorgeous Daisanooji temple. It is definitely a hidden gem of Niijima.
It is not well known that Tokyo is not just a mega metropolitan city but also offers gorgeous island vibes which are not too difficult to access. Including Tokyo’s Izu-shoto Island visit in your itinerary would be definitely the unique experience. And visiting Niijima, Tokyo’s heavenly island, will give you an unforgettable, nature-rich time of your stay in Tokyo.
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