Volcanic islands each more beautiful than the next the farther south you go
Most people think of Tokyo as a buzzing metropolis. The Tokyo Islands couldn't be more different than the city of the same name. This chain of volcanic islands includes the Izu Islands and the remote subtropical Ogasawara Islands , all technically part of the Tokyo area.
- Vacationing in the crater of a volcano on Aogashima
- The Ogasawara Islands; Japan's version of the Galapagos Islands
- Catching some surf on the island of Niijima
- Swimming with wild dolphins off Miyake Island
How to Get There
The islands are all accessible by ferry with all but the most remote also served by airplane and helicopter.
With ferries to all islands, the Takeshiba Terminal in Tokyo is the best departure point for travel by sea. Ports in Yokohama and Shizuoka also operate select services for access from outside the capital.
High-speed ferries operate from Tokyo to Oshima and other less remote islands in as little as two hours, making even day-trips possible. With the exception of the Haneda-Hachijojima route, all flights depart from Chofu Airport, on the outskirts of Tokyo. The furthest south you can fly by airplane is Hachijojima .
Note that the ferry to the Ogasawara Islands takes 24 hours and operates only once a week.
Catch some waves in the clear blue water in the Izu Islands
The clear blue waters and rolling surf make Niijima a popular spot with surfers. After a bracing swim, hop into the seafront hot spring near the port to warm up.
You can also enjoy snorkeling or diving in the waters off Niijima. The warmer waters around the volcanic Tokyo Islands have created the perfect habitat for tropical fish and corals. Hachijojima is a particularly good spot for diving.
Something special to take home
A popular souvenir from Niijima is green glass made from volcanic rock. Try your hand at making your own glass art to take home with you. On Oshima Island, pick up skin care products made with locally-grown camellia oil. In late winter, you can see the stunning camellia flowers in bloom around Oshima Park.
Exotic flora and fauna in Ogasawara
A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Ogasawara Islands are a haven for wild birds and other exotic species such as the bonin white-eye, found only on Hahajima . The unspoiled natural environment of the two islands (Hahajima and Chichijima) make them fascinating to visit, and the sheer variety of plant life is astonishing. Hiking trails offer an alternative to the beach, and are an excellent opportunity to get close to nature.
An epic sea journey
Part of the magic of the Ogasawara Islands is the journey there. The only way to access the islands is by a single weekly ferry that takes 24 hours. The Ogasawara-maru runs from Takeshiba Terminal in Tokyo passing under the Rainbow Bridge , past Odaiba and out of Tokyo Bay with views of different islands en route.
Playing games, reading, chatting with other passengers or taking in the sights from the deck, the long journey affords you the rare experience of old-fashioned travel. Sleep overnight and when you wake up the next morning, you will be greeted with views of the islands and a hearty breakfast at the ferry's restaurant.
Islands shaped by volcanic forces
These islands are part of the Fuji Volcanic Belt, and evidence of their volcanic origins is all around. The most visible reminders of this heritage are the many hot spring baths dotting the islands.
For the ultimate volcano experience, choose Aogashima. The island is a volcanic crater that rises out of the sea. You can cook eggs, veggies, and other foods over volcanic steam vents or take a sauna in the geothermal-powered facility on the island.
See whales and dolphins up-close
Island-hop in style
With well-established ferry routes to and between the different islands (except for the Ogasawara Islands), the volcanic chain is ideal for island-hopping. However, to really travel in style and for the best views, especially over Aogashima, consider island hopping by helicopter. Toho Air Service operates a fixed flight schedule and rates are relatively inexpensive.