Summer in Japan generally falls on the months of June, July, and August and extends up to early September. Summer months can be hot and humid with temperature ranging from 30-40 ℃. Most people take advantage of the warmer temperature spending more time outdoors and traveling to the beach is surely a top pick. And like most of them, we also took this opportunity to have a short get-away from the busy city and enjoy the white sand, clear water, and forested mountains of Niijima.
Niijima is a fairly small island located approximately 163km in the south of Tokyo and despite the island being nearer to Shimoda, Shizuoka Prefecture, it is actually a part of the metropolis and administered by Tokyo Metropolitan Government. The island is famous for its good camping grounds, different hiking trails, island bicycle riding, and most of all a surfer’s surfing paradise because of its many good waves.
We took an overnight large passenger ship from Takeshiba Shinbashi in Tokyo and traveled for 9 hours. The ship was packed so we only managed to get a lower second class ticket which is free sitting so spaces are on a first-come-best-spot basis and we are lucky to be able get a space a few meters from the stairs. Food and drinks vending machines are also available in the ship.
Beautiful mountains, white sands, and clear blue waters welcomed us as we reached the port. The nearest bike rental is around 10-15 minutes walk from the port while the campsite is around 20 minutes away from the rental shop by bike or around an hour walk from the port.
The campsite is on a first-come-first-serve basis and registration can be done in the office located near the Koga Stone park. We took the spot under the safety of the trees but realized that we should have taken the grassy spot instead because there are more insects in the shaded area. The space also got muddy as it was raining almost everyday of our stay. We then have to ensure that our feet are free of sand and mud before we enter the tent. One thing to also note when camping is to never forget to bring insect repellant – the insects like mosquitoes in the island are as healthy as the forest around the site.
We explored the island by bicycle visiting most of its attractions: beaches, moyai hill, secret point, temples & shrines, glass art musems, hot springs, and water park. The beaches especially the Habushiura beach is really a surfer’s paradise with it’s big waves. We saw a lot of people surfing in the early morning sun. A body board competition is even taking place during our visit. Even non-surfer can also enjoy the water. Most of the visitors are carrying floaters/lifebuoy so as not to be carried away by the waves. The water is just so inviting that you can’t resist to take a plunge.
After enjoying the refreshing sea water, we headed to the Yunohama onsen, a free hotspring (which is 10 minutes away from the port by foot) to relax ourselves. Swimsuit is required here as it is a mix-open-air hot bath. This onsen is naturally heated with 6 different pools at varying temperature that can suit your body as you relax.
We also enjoyed the sunset while soaking on an ancient Greek ruined styled onsen with the sound of the waves lapping on the cliffs below.
There are also several convenience store and eating places near the port. The milky ice cream from Morita, one of the convenience store, really captured our taste buds. We had it even with the rain pouring strongly.
The sushi place across Morita is also very fresh and exquisite. The sushi just melts in your mouth, one thing that shouldn’t be missed when you visit the island.
As we left the island on our third day, we found ourselves wanting to stay longer. The island’s relaxing pace of life, scenic surroundings, and welcoming locals are enchanting and breathtaking. A really good place to seek solace and solitude.
For more details, check-out the Niijima travel guide!