Chichijima Island (父島) is an island of Ogasawara Islands (小笠原諸島) controlled by Tokyo, about 1,000 km away from Tokyo in the main land. The island houses only less than 2,500 people and beautifully blue ocean and untouched rich nature.
Indigenous fish, birds, insects and plants which are native to the remote island exist now. That’s why Chichijima Island is referred to as the Galápagos of the Orient. The island is surrounded by about 200–300m high mountains and small islands around. The name of the island Chichijima means “Father Island” in Japanese, and the islands with the name of “Mother” and “Brother” are located around Chichijima.
Ogasawara Islands including Chichijima Island were attacked during WWII and controlled by the U.S. until 1968. People and mass media tend to focus on Okinawa, but Ogasawara will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the reversion of Ogasawara to Japan in 2018.
You can taste their original Japanese food with fresh and unique ingredients. As for climate, Chichijima is warm and hot from 20 to 30 Celsius degrees all year. The island is totally visit-worthy even though it takes 24 hours to get there. Get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life!!
There are a great number of exciting things to do only with rich nature in Chichijima Island. Let’s see how to get and what you can do there!!
▽My Travel Experience in Ogasawara Islands -vol.1▽
▽My Travel Experience in Ogasawara Islands -vol.2-▽
How to Get to Chichijima Island
The ferry named Ogawsawara-maru is the only way to get Chichijima Island. It departs from Tokyo Takeshiba Passenger Ship Terminal and it takes 24 hours to get to the island. A sailing trip needs 5 nights at least (2 nights on the ferry and 3 nights in the island.)
Ogasawara-maru was just renewed in July, 2016, and that allowed the ferry to shorten the time of the sailing by 1.5 hours (it used to take 25.5 hours to sail.)
You can spend the time much more comfortably than before with a restaurant, a lounge, shower rooms, souvenir shops and even suite rooms if your budget allows.
You can book a ticket online in advance or purchase it on the day if available.
Transportation: which is the best way
I believe motorcycle is the best way to move around the island. That can turn on a dime and is the easiest and fastest above all. Moreover, driving a motorcycle itself is an exciting activity.
Bicycle is too hard to run in mountain areas, and bus departs only once an hour. Surprisingly, Chichijima has only one taxi.
That’s why you should take a motorcycle, however, don’t forget to bring an international driving permit stamped on “A” for motorcycles.
Best Things to Do in Chichijima Island
1. Swimming with dolphins
It is not difficult to swim with wild dolphins up close in Chichijima as long as you join an optional tour. You can watch hundreds of dolphins on the boat with a little luck.
2. Watching whales
There are more than 20 species of whales around the island!! You will be be stunned by 10-meter-long whale’s jumping and blowing.
You can see even the bottom in the water at each beach, so it’s also easy to clearly see a school of fish with snorkeling equipment.
4. Scuba diving
Chichijima has the most species and largest school of fish in Japan. Don’t miss a chance to see them in the beautiful bonin-blue sea. With good luck, sea turtles and dolphins will swim around you!!
Stand up paddle surfing is a light and easy activity, compared to surfing. Enjoy the beautiful scenery on the board with uninterrupted horizon.
Kayaking at sunset is one of the best things to do in the island. Breathtaking enough to forget to paddle. It is easy to reach hidden beaches by kayak such as Jinny Beach and John Beach!!
Chichijima is also popular for the best place to trek , in addition to sea activities. The Heart Rock route, which is the most recommended to trek, runs in the forest on the enormous heart-shaped rock. You can see gigantic banyan trees, remains of cars and dishes used during WWII and panoramic coastline at high points on the way, where you cannot enter without a qualified guide.
8. Star Watching
It is not too much to say the island has the darkest night sky where you can watch stars the most clearly in Japan. Copepe Beach and Kominato Beach have been selected as No.1 place for star watching by Japanese government.
9. Ogawsawara Marine Center
If you cannot see sea turtles in the sea, that would be no problem. Ogasawara Marine Center (海洋センター) provides you with a chance to touch them and to let them go to the sea at night which the center protects until growing.
10. Just sleeping on the beach
I’ve only seen few other people there and it’s very quiet except for the sound of waves and birds singing. Forget your busy daily like and just relax on the beaches reading books or sleeping.
The island houses many observatory points which offer nice views for sunset and sunrise. You can view 360°- panoramic scenery at Nakayamatoge Observatory.
Most of the restaurants gather at Omura area, and they serve unique seafood such as Shima-sushi, turtles and other fish.
Bananas, passion fruits and chili peppers are also their specialties. Get snacks and seasonings with the flavors as souvenirs.