1. Kozushima Izu
    Photo: Yoshi Sorafune/Photo AC Akasaki Promenade, Kozushima
  2. Hachijojima Izu
    Photo: Sean Pavone/DreamstimeHachijojima
  3. Oshima Izu
    Photo: Ookimu/PixtaOshima Baumkuchen

Five Tokyo islands you didn’t know about but must visit

Step away from the concrete jungle this summer to see these exotic islands that are still part of Tokyo

Kaila Imada
Written by
Kaila Imada
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Sure, Tokyo may be known for its urban sprawl, but that doesn’t mean the capital is devoid of nature. Aside from the lush forests of Okutama and nature escapes such as Mt Takao and Todoroki Valley, Tokyo is also home to a number of subtropical islands. 

The Izu Islands are a string of nine tiny islands which are popular for their volcanic landscapes and stunning beaches. If the 24-hour boat ride to Ogasawara is too far for you, check out our pick of the best islands in the Izu archipelago, which you can easily reach in just a few hours by ferry or plane.

RECOMMENDED: Check out the best day trips from Tokyo

Island hopping

Oshima
Photo: Ookimu/Pixta

Oshima

What to do: The closest island to Tokyo, Oshima is a getaway filled with tons of nature and is less than two hours from the city. The island is home to an active volcano known as Mt Mihara, and you can even tour its crater. 

You’ll also find Ura-Sabaku on the island, a vast area of black sand which is Japan’s one and only natural desert. If you’re up for a road trip, drive by the Oshima Baumkuchen, a stretch of visibly layered soil that’s over 20,000 years old and resembles the popular German cake.

Of course, hitting the beach is also a must, but don't forget to stop by Hama-no-yu, the gorgeous onsen that features unmatched views of the ocean. The outdoor bath is mixed gender, so remember to pack your bathing suit.

How to get there: Oshima is located an hour and 45 minutes by high-speed ferry from Tokyo. Ferry fares fluctuate depending on the month, but a round trip to the island can cost around ¥16,960 (July). There’s also a slower large passenger ship which takes about six hours for ¥11,320 (July) round trip. See the current timetables and fares, or book a ferry here. The island also has an airport. Flights to Oshima depart from Chofu Airport and you can find the schedule here.

Toshima
Photo: Salunoyume/Photo AC

Toshima

What to do: The next closest island to the city after Oshima is Toshima. Not to be confused with Toshima ward in northern Tokyo, this is a small but beautiful island known for its fragrant camellia trees. The island is home to a very small population – only about 300 people – but it makes for an ideal getaway without the crowds. 

Head to Minamigayama Park for pristine views over the water; you'll even be able to spot a few of Tokyo's other islands in the distance. For an even better vantage point, head up Mt Miyatusuka, where there's a dedicated observatory. 

Must-eat local specialities on Toshima include fresh lobster and turban shells which you can order at your accommodation or one of the island’s two restaurants. Heading to the beach? There are a number of wild dolphins around the island, and you can arrange swimming tours for the best chance to spot them.

How to get there: You can access Toshima by ferry or by helicopter from the neighbouring island of Oshima. From Tokyo proper, it can take nine hours on a large passenger ship, but there is also a high-speed ferry from spring to autumn, which takes just two hours and 20 minutes. Fares for the high-speed ferry vary depending on the month, but a round trip from Tokyo costs about ¥19,100 (July). See the current timetables and fares, or book a ferry here. To book a helicopter, visit here (Japanese only).

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Niijima
Photo: Nana/Pixta

Niijima

What to do: The island of Niijima is a surfer’s dream and the island boasts ideal waves for surfers of all levels and experience. Habushiura Beach is one of the more well known surf spots on the island and has a vast 6.5km white sand beach with crystal clear water. Nearby you’ll also find Habushiura Park, where you can cycle and also set up camp for the night.

Other scenic sites include the Ishiyama Observation Deck, which overlooks neighbouring Shikinejima Island, and the Fujimi Pass Observation Deck on the island's highest peak – it’s got panoramic views of the village below.

The island is also known for its glass production, and there's even a Glass Art Museum where you can see artworks on display. 

How to get there: You can reach the island by either ferry or plane from Tokyo, with the high-speed ferry taking just two hours and 20 minutes. Fares for the high-speed ferry vary depending on the month, but a round trip costs about ¥21,720 (July). Flights to Niijima leave from Chofu airport. See the current timetables and fares, or book a ferry here. For flight information, visit here.

Kozushima
Photo: Yoshi Sorafune/Photo AC

Kozushima

What to do: Enjoy both the mountains and the sea from beautiful Kozushima, one of the middle islands along the Izu archipelago. If you love snorkelling, you've got to head into the waters around Kozushima, as the coral reefs are home to some extraordinary sea life. One of the best spots to snorkel from is actually not a beach – it’s the Akasaki Promenade, where crystal blue waters are surrounded by cliffs and a string of wooden walking paths for easy access. 

There’s also tons of hiking around the island with a highlight being a trek around Mt Tenjo. The path around the crater takes roughly three hours and has plenty of natural sights to see along the way including the sacred, heart-shaped Fudoike pond, and the Hairanaigasawa rim. 

Kozushima is also one of the best stargazing spots in Japan, with few electric lights to spoil its stark night sky. If the timing is right, you may even get a glimpse of the Milky Way.

How to get there: During the summer season, a high-speed ferry travels to the island from Tokyo and takes roughly four hours. Fares fluctuate depending on the month, but round-trip tickets cost around ¥23,140 (July). See the current timetables and fares, or book a boat here. You can also take a flight to the island from Chofu Airport. For more information on flights, visit here.

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Hachijojima
Photo: Sean Pavone/Dreamstime

Hachijojima

What to do: One of the furthest islands from Tokyo, Hachijojima is worth the trip out for its stunning scenery, lush hiking paths and scuba diving. Thanks to the recent popularity of remote work in Tokyo, you can even set up a temporary office on the island.

It’s worth the trip out here – you’ll be rewarded with one of the best views from the island on Mt Nishi, known to locals as Hachijo Fuji. The climb to the top takes roughly an hour and you can also trek your way around the caldera when you’ve reached the top. Another great hiking spot is Mt Mihara, which boasts an easy hiking trail that’s ideal for beginners with its gradual incline.

If you’d rather spend your time in the ocean, snorkelling and scuba diving are a must. You'll have a chance to see the sea turtles that inhabit the area as well as coral and lava formations under the water.

How to get there: You can access Hachijojima by either boat or plane, however, the ship takes about 10 hours and 20 minutes, so a flight is your best bet. Hachijojima is a 55-minute flight from Haneda Airport and you can book tickets through ANA. Boat fares fluctuate depending on the month, but cost around ¥21,340 (July) for a round trip. See the current timetables and fares, or book a boat here. Note that there are no high-speed ferries for Hachijojima.

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