How to Have a Remote Island Get-Away Without Ever Leaving Tokyo!
Imagine palm trees, white sandy beaches, surfing, snorkeling around tropical fish and sea turtles, swimming with dolphins, hiking among lush jungle foliage, and straddling the rim of a volcanic crater…all while still within Tokyo!
For all the latest information on the Tokyo islands check out: https://www.tokyo-islands.com/en/
In the meantime, read on and discover everything you need to plan your trip!
There is so much more to Tokyo than the densely populated urban zone that typically comes to mind. Not only does the region encompass a forested, mountainous region to the west, it’s also home to a series of subtropical volcanic islands in the ocean waters south of the metropolis.
In particular, a group of nine islands known as the Izu Islands along with a few smaller accompanying islands are popular for their accessibility and diverse natural scenery. Frequent and relatively affordable options to reach these islands abound, whether accessing them by boat or aircraft.
Join us as we look at some of those transport options so you can start planning your own island-hopping trip today!
Getting to Tokyo’s Islands by Boat or Airplane
Those with limited time on their hands will probably opt for traveling to these exotic southern islands by plane. Air travelers departing from the Honshu mainland have a couple of different options: flying with one of Japan’s major carriers, All Nippon Airways (ANA), or boarding the more regional carrier that is New Central Airservice.
ANA’s sole route to the remote islands of Tokyo is from Haneda Airport to Hachijojima Airport. Flying regular jet aircraft, ANA currently offers three regular 55-minute flights per day to Hachijojima, one of the larger and more southerly Izu Islands. Fares will vary depending on the time and season, of course, but generally start at a little more than 11,000 yen for a one-way flight.
To access other islands by airplane, travelers can board a flight with New Central Airservice departing from Chofu Airport, a smaller regional airport west of the Tokyo urban center. It is accessible by the JR Chuo Line and then a taxi from Musashi-Sakai Station, or alternatively a bus ride from Chofu Station on the Keio Line.
New Central Airservice operates twin-engine propeller aircraft seating up to 19 passengers, which fly to Oshima, Niijima, Kozushima, and Miyakejima. Fares with this carrier start at 11,800 yen to Oshima and 17,200 yen to Miyakejima. Discounts are also available for return trips.
Naturally, however, ferries carry the bulk of the passengers traveling to the islands, with Tokai Kisen being the main service provider. The shipping company offers both fast service with hydrofoil jet boats and slower but more affordable traditional ferries comprising large passenger ships.
Tokai Kisen’s Tokyo-based high-speed jet ferries depart from Takeshiba Terminal (within 8 minutes’ walk of Hamamatsucho Station on the Yamanote Line) and take passengers to Oshima, Toshima, Niijima, Shikinejima and Kozushima. The fast hydrofoil takes just around two hours to the first island of Oshima and reaches the farthest island in about four hours.
If you’re not in a hurry, reaching the islands by one of Tokai Kisen’s large passenger ships will be the most economical option. Tokai Kisen operates two ferries which depart at night from Takeshiba Terminal and stop at several islands during the morning of the next day.
The ships depart at night, with one route first arriving at Miyakejima, then Mikurashima, and continuing on to Hachijojima. The second route first arrives at Oshima, then Toshima, Niijima, Shikinejima, and finally Kozushima. Fares along these routes will range depending on the departure and arrival ports and the type of class (the large passenger ships offer 2nd class, Special 2nd, 1st class, Special 1st, and VIP classes).
Inter-island access with the Tokyo Ai-land Shuttle helicopter service
Those interested in island-hopping can certainly use the Tokai Kisen ferries described above, but sometimes inter-island access can be difficult, with rough seas and strong currents postponing or even canceling ferry service. For times like these, or when a faster mode of transportation is desired, Toho Air Service’s Tokyo Ai-land Shuttle offers a helicopter service that can seat up to nine passengers.
Originally intended as a shuttle service assisting people getting around the islands for work, welcomes general passengers on their helicopters as well. Travel times are considerably shorter than a ferry. From Oshima it only takes 10 minutes to Toshima, or alternatively 20 minutes to Miyakejima, then 10 minutes to Mikurashima, 25 minutes to Hachijojima, and a further 20 minutes to Aogashima.
Prices for a typical adult passenger range from a little over 5,770 yen depending on the particular route. Please note that current prices (as of September 2019) includes 8% sales tax, but in October they will be revised to incorporate the new sales tax rate of 10%.
Additional information including fares and timetables
Fares and available routes to the islands are subject to change, so when planning your journey, it’s best to consult the websites of the different transportation companies mentioned earlier.
The website for New Central Airservice is https://www.central-air.co.jp/en/.
The official website of ferry operator Tokai Kisen is https://www.tokaikisen.co.jp/en/.
Some routes are seasonal and discounts are sometimes available so make sure to check around the website.
Tokyo Ai-land Shuttle’s website is http://www.tohoair.co.jp/english/shuttle/.
Regardless of what time of year you decide to go, Tokyo’s islands make for an easily reachable getaway. Take a trip to one or more of these fascinating places and see a side of Tokyo that not everyone gets to see!
This article was written by Noam Katz.Back