If you’re a travel maniac, an island lover, love challenges, and likes to go remote area, which isn’t very much known place, this is where you should go; An island called Hachijo Island (八丈島, Hachijo jima), a still-volcanic island in the Philippine Sea. Although 200km away from Tokyo train station, it is still considered part of Tokyo, as the city governs the island and other chain of Izu islands.
Of course, a travel to any island will require you to go either by ferry or aircraft. If you’re someone who likes to savor every moment, you could, as I did, choose to go there first by flight, and take your time going back home by ferry. ANA (All Nippon Airline) provides a 45 minutes flight from Haneda to Hachijojima airport, for around 20,000 yen per trip. Transportation through ferry however, is way much cheaper. A ferry company called Tokai Kisen provided this service, with around 7000 yen per trip.
I’ve been here myself, so I’m writing this article solely based on my experience. It was a 3 days trip in the early September, summer season with temperatures usually up to around 30 degrees. I highly recommend travelling to the island in the summer, as it is the best season for snorkeling, surfing or hiking. Arriving at the Hachijojima airport, you’ll noticed something familiar; a very clean environment, grass decorated with hibiscus flowers, modern looking airport, and a very well maintained pavements, just like you’ll see in Tokyo. But there weren’t too many people there, certainly very few cars, and the breeze from the sea fill the air, calm and serene sensation just engulf you the moment you step out of the gate. I’ve made a reservation at a guesthouse near Sokodo, in the valley just near the harbour. A 2-night stay just cost me 8000 yen, complete with breakfast and dinner.
I only had a brief period of stay there, so I did as best as I could explore the island. The first I did was going for a snorkelling at Nazumado, an area near the harbour. It is the best known, and is considered to be one of the top ten dives in Japan, as it is possible to spot sea turtles, dolphins, tuna or even hammerhead sharks (yes, for real). Any snorkeling or scuba diving course is usually provided by the guesthouse or any other resort, complete with rental gears. If you are a seasoned surfer, you should pack your gear and ride a wave here. There are 3 surf breaks, providing hotspot for surfers at the southernmost tip of the island; Kaisar, Santos and Tacos. Note that there isn’t any surf shop here, so you need to bring all your own gear with you.
I think the only reason why I came here is to go for hiking. The island is basically a strip of land sandwiched between 2 mountains, with the highest one called Hachijo-Fuji standing at the western side, and is actually the highest point (854 meters) of the entire Izu’s chain of islands. It certainly isn’t as high as you would expect as mountain Fuji, but the steep and slippery terrain isn’t really forgiving either. After hours of climbing and exhaustion, you’ll be amazed by the breathtaking view of the entire island from the mountain’s peak. There, you could see the airport, harbour, houses, civilization and the Hachijo-kojima, its smaller island with the blue sea filling the horizon, makes you wonder how such beauty could exist in the middle of nowhere.
Of course these are only part of my trip experiences that doesn’t really cover all the attraction places in the island. You could grab your camera and took photos of bioluminescent mushroom in the forest, soaking in hot onsen with spectacular view of the mountain and the blue sea at Sueyoshi, and even rent a bicycle and tour the whole island. If given another chance, I would definitely travel to the island again.
Guest post by Izzuddin.