The contrasting white sands and painterly light blue of the ocean leaves visitors to Niijima with quite the impression. 3 hours away on a high speed jet boat from the city, Niijima island is also the proposed site for competitive surfing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Here is a list of our most recommended destinations including attractions, restaurants, cafes, events and transportation for a 2 day trip to Niijima.
Table of Contents
1. Must-see spots on Niijima Island
2. Must-do Activities on Niijima Island
3. Where you can try some local foods?
4. Find Accommodation on Niijima Island
5. Access and tips for traveling around Niijima
Must-See Attractions in Niijima
Habushiura beach is a known surf spot. I’ve been to many of the beaches on Niijima island but the beauty of the water here far exceed the others. It’s beyond mere description of how clear or transparent the water is. The water at Habushiura beach is of a color you would not see elsewhere. A pastel light blue, as blue as though it was painted by an artist.
The cherry on the cake at habushiura beach is this white building. Its presence is so grand it’s almost asking to have its photo taken. The tourists heed to this by snapping away tons of photos.
By the way, this just so happens to be a popular surf spot, so you’re sure to see many surfers riding waves.
3 Honmura, Niijima-mura, Tokyo
As it was still early in May there were hardly any swimmers at the beach, but we were told that during summer season it gets busy. I swam about 200m away from the coast. The white sands go on for a long way, and I felt as though I had wandered into a void in space.
Once in a while, a large manta ray would be seen scattering sand on the seabed. Fish would swim leisurely around the tetrapods. I also spotted some large striped beakfish, blackfish and moray eel.
I’ve been to almost all the viewing platforms of Niijima, but the all inclusive view of the ocean, mountain and city from this spot makes Fujimitoge Observatory an unbeatable spot. You can get from the foot of the mountain to the top in 10 minutes by car. There is also a hiking course which will take around 2 hours on foot. (No bicycles are allowed on the trek)
An observatory recommended for anyone who wants an all encapsulating view of Niijima.
Official website here
Ishiyama Observation Deck
Driving along the coast for just under 20 minutes, we arrive at Ishiyama Observation Deck, which is also a mining ground for Koga stone. There is a large Koga stone object. You can look over Shikinejima and other islands. The moment we take a step out of the car, we are blown by rather strong winds. Under the strong sunlight, the wind feels pleasant. From here, we have a sweeping view of Shikinejima and other surrounding islands. I am reminded of how blue the ocean is. As might be expected from a Kouga stone mining ground, the place is scattered with stone. Everywhere you look it’s stone. I pick one up just to see. Lo and behold, it’s light!
Glass Art Center
The Niijima Glass Art Center is in a stylish building standing in an open space facing the ocean.
Here, Kouga stones are used as raw material to make pieces of glass art. There’s a line of glass art in unique shapes and colors that can be bought to take home as a souvenir. They also offer classes for making glass goods from Kouga stone.
Glass Art Center
Hours:10:00 to 16:30
Holiday:Every Tuesday, year-end and New Year holidays
Niijima-mura Museum is a place to learn about the history of how Niijima came to be, such as how in the Edo era, criminals who were exiled ended up on the island, or how one of those criminals is rumored to have been Tonomo Souma, last leader of the infamous Shinsengumi. There’s a lot of trivia, and while I originally thought I’d be done in about 10 minutes, I ended up staying for close to an hour.
The staff are very knowledgeable too, and will happily answer any questions that you may have. I left feeling smarter, and enriched with new knowledge.
2-36-3 Honmura, Niijima-mura, Tokyo
Hours: 9AM – 5PM
Official website here
Must-do activities in Niijima
In Niijima, there are a lot of surfers raised, also many champions have visited. Here is the very famous place for surfing. The strong waves, emerald blue sea, bright blue sky and clear air….Many surfers are just fall’in love. Surprisingly, the key pioneers of this restoration drama were surfers who came from abroad. These surfers who traveled all over the world were struck by Niijima’s rich nature, beautiful sea, and world class waves, and began to share their find with the world. If you are sarfer, here is the mast visit place for you.
Yunohama Roten Onsen
Yunohama Roten Onsen is conveniently located just 10 minutes from Niijima port. What’s more, this rotenburo, or outdoor hot spring, is free for all to use. The view from the highest rotenburo, which has an Ancient Greek inspired design, is quite something. You can see so far that the curve of the horizon is visible. A view like this for free? How generous of you Niijima! What’s more, it’s open 24 hours a day, so you can even go whenever and however many times as you please.
As it’s cleaned frequently, it’s kept in good condition despite being free. As it’s a mixed gender bath, visitors are required to wear a swimsuit so it’s a great destination for both families and friends. It’s great fun for larger groups as well.
Yunohama Roten Onsen
Setoyama, Honmura, Niijima-mura, Tokyo
Official website here
Mamashita Onsen is located 15 minutes on foot from Niijima port. There are not only hotspring or outdoor hot spring, but also a sauna and a sand bath! The cost is 300yen for hotsprings and a sauna, also 700yen for a sand bath. You don’t need to wear a swimsuits here for hot springs because here is separated by genders. Here is also good place to chat with islanders.
Setoyama, Niijima-mura, Tokyo
Fee: Hotsprings- 300yen
Sand bath- 700yen
Where you can try some local foods?
The owner at Sakae Sushi, who is a native of Niijima island, filets the fish himself. While the sight of him doing so is charming enough, the taste of sushi here is vouched for by locals. As the sushi tastes great and the shop spacious and clean, the place is busy not just with tourists but locals as well.
We recommend trying the shimazushi, literally island sushi, that can only be found on the Izu islands. Shimazushi is sushi topped with cuts of white fish marinaded in soy sauce and other seasoning. At Niijima, it’s common to serve it with a touch of Japanese mustard on top.
Sakae sushi serves a variety of other dishes that originate on the island.
If you wish to try Niijima style dishes, come stop by Sakae sushi for an unforgettable meal.
5-2-9 Honmura, Niijima-mura, Tokyo
Hours: Lunch 11:30AM – 2PM, Dinner 5PM – 10PM
With a fantastic location just one road over from the ocean is POOL/PARK. A renovated warehouse turned cafe, POOL/PARK comes with terrace seats where you can sit for a beer under the sun. Inside the interior is chic with a resort theme. The food is made using local vegetables and other fresh ingredients. It’s a great cafe for anyone looking to lounge around and take it slow.
2-9-23 Honmura, Niijima-mura, Tokyo
Hours: 10AM – 5PM
Official website here(Japanese Only)
Find Accommodation on Niijima Island
Now let’s find an accommodation on Niijima. Go to the website of Niijima Tourist Association. You will find some places to choose from on the website. However, for some accommodations it will be difficult to place a booking in English so it is better to have a Japanese speaking person take care of the reservation or try your luck with Google translate.
Access and tips for traveling around Niijima
There are two ways to get to Niijima: by ship or by plane.
The great thing about going by sea is how affordable it can be. If you choose to take the large ferry operated by Tokaikisen, a two way ticket leaving Takeshiba sanbashi port in Tokyo will take 10 hours and 35 minutes, but only around 10,000 JPY. Even the high speed jet ferry, which would get you there in as fast as 2 hours and 20 minutes is roughly 15,000 JPY. The only con is the travel time. The large ferry in particular will save you a lot of money but takes a long time to get you there. That said, many of the large ferries leave late at night, so you can sleep through most of the ride. In the summer, high speed jet ferries are available almost daily, but beware that in winter, the majority of boats departing for the islands are the large ferries.
The other option is to fly. You will land at the New Central Air Service on a small plane, and the flight is just 35 minutes from Chofu airport in Tokyo! It’s the best option for anyone looking to minimize travel time. The disadvantage of flying is the cost of tickets which comes at a higher price than the boats at roughly 25,000 JPY.
Plan your transportation accordingly to your schedule, budget and preference.
Plane reservation→New Central Air Service
tips for traveling around Niijima
Best Season To Visit
A common misconception is that the best time to go to an island is summer. Sure, it’s very nice in the summer, and there’s always the advantage of being able to swim in the ocean.
As a result, the izu islands are packed during summer season. Many in the know of how busy it gets book hotels 2 to 3 months ahead. There aren’t that many restaurants and eateries, so you end up having to fight for seats. It’s best to call ahead and book a table.
There’s a free camping site on the island, so if you own a tent, it’s a great place to camp in the summer too! But other than that, just about everything else needs advanced preparation.
Hence why I personally recommend visiting outside of the summer season. It’s a lot quieter other times of the year and it doesn’t get too cool in spring or fall. The beaches are closed but the water is still very clear. If anything, the water is more beautiful in fall and winter. The sky is clear and the night sky is dazzling. As there are no street lights near Habushiura beach, it’s possible to catch sight of many, many stars. Plus, it’s much easier to book hotels outside of the peak season. True island aficionados visit outside of the summer season… or so I like to believe.
That Moyai Statue In Shibuya? It Comes From Niijima
You may know of the famous moyai statue outside of Tokyo’s Shibuya station. The statue, which over time has come to be a popular meeting spot, actually originates from Niijima island.
Don’t believe us? Come see for yourself. You’ll see why when you’re here. The whole island is full of moyai statues!
There are so many that it’s fun to look out for one with a face that you like. The sheer number of statues makes for an enjoyable art piece.
A Most Satisfying stay In Niijima!
As it’s a very small island, it’s possible to have plenty of fun in just 1 night and 2 days. You can rent a car, or choose to bike around the island. You can surf, or swim in the ocean. It’s a beautiful island where there’s plenty of fun to be had in the wild. It comes as a bit of a shock that there are such beautifully white sands and clear blue waters in Tokyo, but the warmth of the island and slow pace of life is very comforting. Go on, we urge you to take a trip to Niijima.