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NEWS / FEATURE / MOVIE

2017/9/10
BIKE & SURF TRIP to Niijima

Text by Monjya
Photo by Monjya, Rie, Minami

If there is a river, mountain, road, wall or anything that stands right in front of you, it feels the place on the other side is too far to get there so that we need some reasons to make our feet move and cross those obstacles. If this makes sense to you, then not to speak of the huge ocean ahead of you.

 

We brought our bicycles, surfboards and camping tools to Niijima island across the ocean for 2017 summer vacation.

 

It is actually not the ocean standing right in front of us, it is the psychological distance between the paradise and us. 2 hours and half by a fast ferry from Tokyo, 3 hours by a large sized ship from Izu peninsula where we usually ride around. It is like the distance between from our city to Yamanashi prefecture or Nagano prefecture, but indeed it is an adventure to cross the ocean.

 

A fare table
Tokyo – Niijima : Large ship ¥5,740 / Jet ship ¥8,810
Shimoda – Niijima : Large ship ¥3,920
Bicycle fare : Bicycle bag ¥500 plus / no bag ¥1,200 plus

 

I actually wanted to spend some times around my neighborhood in Nagoya city for my summer vacation, but my co-worker and a friend of mine, Rie, she asked me, “Hey, don’t you wanna go to Niijima and surf?!” then you know how it worked. It has been 2 years after me and Rie went surfing in Shikoku area for bike & surf trip. At this time we also asked Mr. Chaya and Mrs. Minami.

 

We chose Large ship sailing from Shimoda for 3 hours. We also saw some surfers who had surfboards like us got into the ship.

 

We heard that when it was rough day, it might have been hard to even be on the board. The distance between Shimoda and Niijima is only 36km, but the ship stopped by 2 different islands so that is why it took some times to get to the island we want to go.

 

We finally arrived at Niijima island. We carried our surfboards and camping tools on BURLEY’s carrier. We actually paid extra charge on this carrier ¥540. Now you see the legendary island called “Oshima”.

 

We checked in Sabushiura camping site after riding around about 3km. We heard that there were 200 people camping at this place till yesterday because of the international surfing competition, however we see only 15 groups that moment. We also met some surfers who had stayed there for a long period as well. After we assemble our tent, then why not go jumping into the ocean in front of the camping site!

 

Habushiura beach is also well-known for the best beach in Niijima island. 7km beautiful white sand beach runs from north to south… however as you can see, no waves no surf…

 

We asked a lifesaver where to surf at that day the best and he told us that we should’ve been heading to Awaiura point which was northern part of the island. In order to get to there, we had to rent a car, so we decided to go to the other point which was a famous secret point only a few knows about, so that we started riding our bike through the green trees tunnel.

 

This secret point is located at in front of the sacred place for local people called “Shiromama cliff”. This cliff shows white volcanic ash layers and rain and wind has encroached on it then it became a sheer cliff. Because of these white fine sand particles, the ocean shows up its color as clear blue. Unlucky, there were no wave at this secret point so we had to wait till high-tide time very next day.

 

We went back to the port area and did snorkeling at Mamashita beach. We were able to see so many tropical fish and squids in rocky area.

 

After we had an amazing time in the sea, we stopped by Hamaroten-onsen, a public bath right next to where we did snorkeling. Have you ever heard Saint Seiya? Japanese old school animation? This onsen place looks like a story of Golden Saint Seiya version. Anyway, surprisingly it opens for 24 hours. It also locates on the west side of the island so that we were able to look at the sunset while in the bath. (It will be crowded around these times.)

 

For dinner, we visited Izakaya Nihonbashi. We didn’t expect that the quality of the food was that much high actually. So many good places and anything we ate there was all superb; especially Flying fish, Red squid, and their speciality Ashitaba-Tempra. However, if you wanna go there around 7pm, then you really need to make a reservation for your dinner table. Sometimes you don’t have to after 9pm, but it will be crowded for sure. We actually wanted to visit a sushi restaurant, but all seats were reserved already.

 

After we said good-bye to Mr.and Mrs.Chaya, we went back to secret spot to surf again. There wasn’t good waves but it was absolutely gorgeous to be surrounded by super clear water and Shiromama Cliff. People call this island as a sacred place of surfing… ummm… probably we didn’t come here for the right timing when a low pressure comes around…

 

Day 3. We woke up super early in the morning and checked the waves but as you can tell that there was nothing but flat beautiful ocean in front of us. So, we decided to ride around the island and did hillclimbing upward Mukaiyama looking up on top of the sheer cliff of the secret beach. On the way to the top of the mountain, we stopped by a stone quarry to play with Koga stones, a speciality of Niijima island. This stone is amazingly light and able to process for building and any other material for our life around. I heard that Moyai Statue at Shibuya station is also made of Koga stone from Niijima island.

 

Last day, we woke up slowly and just needed not to be late for the ship to return home. It was very fine weather and no waves at all.

 

Before the next travel boom comes

Like I expected, it was the paradise after crossing the ocean. You can go anywhere you want by bicycle so that we saw so many tourists were riding rental Mamachari bicycles around there. Absolutely Mamachari is enough to enjoy mostly in the island, but if you bring your road bike then you can have more amazing views riding through a mountain route. Comfy camping site, cozy guest houses also await you. To tell you the truth, everything is perfect!!!

In 1970s, there was an island travel boom back in time. Tons of high school students and undergraduates visited this island for their summer vacation, so that the accommodation place located there 10 times than now and I heard it looked like Harajuku nowadays. I saw some places on their main street reminding of good old days.

After burst of Japan’s economic bubble, flying abroad became much easier than before so that this island travel boom started ending after that, however I think the attractiveness of this island has never faded at all. Now, small amount of people can share the better transport access, various facilities, and of course their magnificent natures, while people losing their interests. Now is the chance to enjoy the most ouf of it, don’t you think?

Sightseeing information

http://niijima-info.jp/

Travel magazine site ‘Niijimag’

http://niijimag.com/

 

TODAY’S RIDER

 

-Chaya’s BIKE SPECS-
Frame Hunter Cycles CycloCross
Front bag Porcelain Rocket MCA
Bottle SimWorks Artcollective Primitive Adventure
Back Pack Welldone

 

-Minami’s BIKE SPECS-
Frame Surly Cross Check
Paint Kyutai Paint Wet Paint
Seat Bag Porcelain Rocket Vera

 

 

 


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  • Amazing. I want to come snorkel and dive on the island.

    • Yeah! Let’s go bike to island trip in Japan! There’s so many tiny islands around here.

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