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Explore Miyakejima, One Of Tokyo’s Best Kept Secrets (Izu Islands)

Miyakejima is part of the Izu Islands, one of the best kept secrets and weekend trips from Tokyo. Miyakejima is best known for the wild dolphins that live in its waters and has starkly black beaches lining its coasts.

Compared with the Okinawa Islands, the Izu Islands are significantly closer and easier to access from Tokyo. You can explore Miyakejima as a weekend getaway from Japan’s capital city and feel like you are in a tropical paradise.

During my trip to Miyakejima, I particularly enjoyed swimming with dolphins and watching the sunrises from the beach. I really felt like I was on an island in the middle of nowhere (partly because I actually was!).

In this guide, I’ll share my suggestions about how to have an amazing trip to Miyakejima.

What is the best way to explore Miyakejima?

How To Get To Miyakejima

Night view of Tokyo from the overnight ferry to Miyakejima

View of Tokyo from the ferry

View of a sunrise as the overnight ferry from Tokyo pulls into Miyakejima

Sunrise at Miyakejima viewed from the ferry as it pulls into the island

You can either fly to Miyakejima or take a ferry. Flights depart Chofu Airport on the west side of Tokyo and take about 50 minutes. The ferries depart Tokyo from the Takeshiba Passenger Ship Terminal and take about 6.5 hours.

When I visited the island, I took the overnight ferry. You can purchase either very basic ticket fare to sleep in a shared room on the floor of the ship or nicer tickets with proper bedding and more privacy. The ferry has showers, restaurants, and simple but comfortable lounge areas.

I highly recommend booking a rental car for your time on the island. Public transportation is limited and it’s not easy to access many of the natural attractions of the island without your own car.

Where To Stay

Miyakejima is a condense island with limited hotel options. Particularly for the summer months when the dolphins are the most active, accommodations on the island book up quickly so I recommend planning your trip a few months in advance.

Hotels are fairly limited on the island, but a few options are below:

What To Do

Nippana Shinzan

View of the black rock sand bluff overlooking the ocean from Nippana Shinzan in Miyakejima, Japan

Nippana Shinzan

Nippana Shinzan is a striking volcanic cliff that jets over the water and is surrounded by black pebbles. You will feel like you stepped into outer space or another world with this stark backdrop.

The cliff literally erupted out of nowhere during a volcanic explosion in 1983 and is now one of the major natural wonders on the island.

The area is free to visit and has a parking lot and restroom facilities.

Snorkeling (and swimming with wild dolphins!)

The Izu Islands of Japan offer some of the best snorkeling opportunities in the world, and Miyakejima is no exception. You can snorkel from one of the island’s many beaches, or book a boat tour and venture further out into the ocean.

The waters surrounding Miyakejima are home to over 100 wild dolphins and you can reserve a snorkeling expedition to swim with them! Miyakejima Dolphin Club and Tokyo Snow Club both offer guided trips to swim with the dolphins. I did this when I visited the island and there is nothing quite like behind in the water as wild dolphins race past you.

Izu Cape Lighthouse

Izu Cape Lighthouse is a popular spot on the island to watch the sunset and take photos by the lighthouse. The lighthouse is one of the iconic images of Miyakejima and is a great place to relax. There is a conveniently-located parking lot and restroom facilities as well.

Tairo-ike Pond

View of Tairo-ike Pond from the shore. The pond is on Miyakejima in Japan

Tairo-ike Pond

Tairo-ike Pond is a gorgeous nature park that has stunning views of the pond and is also an excellent place for bird watching. On a calm day, the surface of the pond is like a mirror and reflects the lush forests surrounding it.

You can walk in a loop around the pond and rest on one of the observatory decks. However, note that swimming in the pond is not allowed.

七島展望台 (observation viewpoint)

七島展望台 is an incredible vantage point in the center of Miyakejima. On a clear day, you can see the other Izu Islands in the distance. You can drive, hike, or bike to the peak, but a lot of the road is gravel or dirt so be careful. The top can also be extremely windy on some days, so pack a light extra layer.

If you want to see a once-in-a-lifetime scenic view of the Izu Islands, this is the spot.


Sunrise on a beach in Miyakejima

The sunrise on 釜の尻海岸 beach on the eastern side of the island

One of the main draws of the Izu Islands is the incredible beaches. Unlike many of the spots in Okinawa, the beaches on Miyakejima are relatively free of people. Since Miyakejima is a volcanic island, the beaches are uniquely characterized by their black stones.

One of my favorite beaches on my trip was 釜の尻海岸 beach, on the east side of the island. It was near the hotel that I stayed and I woke up each morning to watch the sunrise by the ocean.

錆ヶ浜海水浴場 beach is a great option on the west side of the island. The sand is jet-black and contrasts beautifully against the bright blue water. This beach is popular for swimming, but be warned that there can sometimes be a strong undertow.

Since Miyakejima is so small, one of the things that makes it so special is that you can just hop in your car, drive around, and stumble upon incredible beaches to walk along or swim from. Be open to cruising around and seeing what gems you find!

What To Eat

Miyakejima is a small and remote island, so the restaurant options are fairly limited. I recommend booking breakfast and/or dinner at your hotel to simplify the hunt for a place to eat. Some of the restaurants I suggest below offer takeout, so you can get food to-go from them or convenience stores and enjoy a meal on the beach.

For restaurants on the island, I recommend:

  1. Gallery Cafe Kanon (cafe)

  2. 割烹 いけ吉 (sushi)

  3. テス (Izakaya, Japanese pub food)

  4. GIZMO (sandwiches, cafe)

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