Must do: Swimming with dolphins at Miyakejima island

Miyakejima  (三宅島), “Miyake Island“)  is an  island in Tokyo prefecture, and is part of the Izu group, southeast of HonshūJapan about 180 kilometers south of Tokyo city. Like other islands in the Izu Island group, Miyake-jima forms part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park.

Miyake-jima is famous for its traditional taiko performances, known as kamitsuki kiyari taiko, as well as being home to the rare endemic Izu Thrush (akakokko). The island is home to an unusually rich flora and fauna with several rare species of birds and animals, although its natural habitats are constantly under threat from human and volcanic activity. Underwater, the island is valued by divers for its coral reefs and marine fauna (including the dolphin population outside nearby Mikura-jima).

The island was used as a penal colony during the Edo Period.

Access

By ferry
Miyake-jima is accessible by over-night ferry, the Sarubia Maru or the Camellia, which is operated by Tōkai Kisen. The ferry departs fromTakeshiba Sanbashi Pier, near Hamamatsuchō, Tokyo at 22:30 and arrives at Miyakejima at 5:00. There are discount tickets available for the ferry. Buy from resale ticket shops (kinken shop) for about 700-1000en each. Usually 35% off single ferry ticket price with each discount ticket but in summer  25% – still save money!
You will need 2 tickets for return trip.
Buy the ferry tickets on the night before 9pm. Hundreds are sold on the night so no problem, but after 9pm it is risky – waiting lists start.

Discount Ferry Tickets – How to get them.

Discount tickets available in many shops but easy to get in Shimbashi for 700-1000en each – go get them!

The ticket is called “Toukaikisen Kabunushi Yutaiken”東海汽船株主優待券.
With this ticket you can get 25-35% discount on any [東海汽船] Tokaikisen ferry to the islands. The discount ticket price varies from 700en to 1,200en. Many [金券ショップ] Kinken shop on the Yamanote line.
http://o-dekake.net:80/kinken/tokyo/st_yama-line.html

By plane
There are flights connecting Miyakejima Airport and Haneda Airport with an approximate flying time of 50 minutes.

By helicopter
are also two helicopter flights operated by Tokyo Island Shuttle which originate in Aogashima and Izu Ōshima and fly to Toshima, Miyake-jima, Mikura-jimaHachijō-jima and Aogashima.

Things to do

• Dolphin swimming: Held in Mikurajima, the neighboring island. Tour duration is about 3~4hrs (30mins round-trip land transportation, 90mins round-trip boat ride, about 2hrs swimming with the dolphins).
• Scuba diving: One of the best diving spots in Japan. You’ll see coral area on the westside and seaweed area on the east side of the island. Such sea setting is rare in the world.
• Snorkeling: Good spot just a short walk from the campsite.
• Sightseeing: See and visit Meganeiwa (Spectacles Rock), Ako Lava Flow Trail, Mt. Hyoutan, Tairo-ike lake, Nature Center, etc.
• Beach side camping: Beautiful ocean view, well maintained, good facilities, warm showers, clean toilets (Western/Japanese style toilet available), bonfire woods well-supplied.
• Onsen: Fureaino-yu is a very nice and clean natural hot spring facility located on the coast of Ako, outdoor/indoor baths, gorgeous view of the Pacific ocean.

Where to stay

Here are some B&B’s and other place where you can stay in Miyakejima

Weekend trip
Usually I recommend staying on the islands like Shikinejima for 3 days because the ferry leaves early – morning. But on Miyakejima the ferry returns around 2pm so that gives you almost a full Sunday – normal weekend is possible.
Those that have a day off Monday can stay longer of course.

Ferries leave Friday night from Tokyo so we relax and sleep on the deck free. Arrive early in the morning at Miyake.

For more details see the internet for Miyakejima (三宅島)
http://miyakejima.gr.jp/

MAP
http://miyakejima.gr.jp/uploads/images/tomaru_map.jpg

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