Top things to do when in Ogasawara
25 November 2016
When planning a trip to Tokyo, most travellers wouldn’t consider including a UNESCO World Heritage site to their itinerary. Dubbed “Galapagos of the East” for its subtropical climate and variety of indigenous flora and fauna, the Ogasawara Archipelago (also known as the Bonin Islands) lies just 1000 km south of downtown Tokyo. The archipelago comprises over 30 subtropical and tropical islands (jima), of which only two are inhabited: Chichi-jima and Haha-jima. The only way to reach the islands is via the Ogasawara Maru, a 25-hour ferry ride from Tokyo to Chichi-jima; Haha-jima is accessible by a two-hour ride aboard the Hahajima Maru from Chichi-jima.
For those in need of a week-long respite away from the city or if you’re a thrill-seeker looking for the next off-beat Tokyo adventure, check out our top picks for things to do and places to visit in Ogasawara now! | More info at gotokyo.org
Minami-jima (South Island), Chichi-Jima
Located about 1 km off John Beach, Minami-jima is an extremely rare submerged karst island shaped by the dissolution of limestone over a few thousand years. Photos of the island’s inimitable natural stone arch and azure Ogiike lagoon are often used to promote Ogasawara. Access is limited to 100 visitors daily, who must be accompanied by certified guides.
Mikazukiyama Observation Deck (Weather Station), Chichi-jima
Located west of Chichi-jima, this observatory is the best spot to sit and watch the sun set below the horizon. The busy deck has been touted one of the best places in the world to see the “green flash”, a natural phenomenon that happens right before the sun dips below the horizon during sunset and emits a bright green flash. When in season, the Weather Station is perfect for whale-watching too.
Minamizaki Nature Trail, Haha-jima
This path takes visitors to the coastal areas of Miyukinohama Beach, Nankinhama Beach as well as from Omoto Bridge to Minamizaki, the southernmost point on Haha-jima. Offshoots of the 2.5 km trail to Mount Kofuji lead to several remote beaches along the way such as Omoto Beach, Horaine Beach and Wai Beach. Expect stunning views of the beautiful Minamizaki coral reef, along with views of southern Haha-jima and its adjacent islands from the summit of Mount Kofuji.
World Class Diving & Snorkelling Spots
Chichi-jima is considered by most to be the main spot for swimming, diving and snorkelling in Ogasawara. The picturesque beaches and crystal clear Bonin waters around Hyotan-jima, Minami-jima and Hirashima offer an unforgettable world-class underwater experience filled with manta rays, sea turtles, dolphins (if you’re lucky), coral reefs and more. Our favourite spots to swim, dive and snorkel are:
Kominato Beach, Chichi-jima
The island’s largest stretch of beach boasts fine white sand and shallow clear water that is ideal for swimming and sunbathing.
Sakaiura Beach, Chichi-jima
Snorkellers love to explore the partially submerged WWII Japanese warship wreck that sunk into the shallow waters just off Sakaiura Beach.
Minamizaki Beach, Haha-jima
A remote beach west of Mount Kofuji with clear blue waters and beautiful corals makes this a perfect snorkelling and diving spot. Just remember to keep a look out for strong currents.
Horaine Beach, Haha-jima
Considered to be the most beautiful beach in Haha-jima, it features a pure white sand shoreline and an impressive offshore coral garden.
#3 Marine Wildlife Encounters
Ogasawara’s subtropical oceanic topography is home to a thriving number of dolphins, whales and green turtles that are endemic to its moderate Bonin blue waters. While marine wildlife experiences generally differ across the year and are subject to seasonality, the best time to visit Ogasawara is from late June to August.
Swim with Wild Dolphins (Pink Dolphin Tour)
This is a popular adventure in Ogasawara because spinner dolphins and Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins can be found all year round. A typical tour package would include swimming with dolphins while stopping by popular points like Minami-jima along the way. With luck, you’ll be swimming with these graceful creatures in their natural habitat in no time.
Whale Watching (Pink Dolphin Tour)
Whale watching is definitely more seasonal — the chances of spotting a humpback whale are quite high between February to April, while you would easily be able to identify sperm whales by their enormous square heads in waters just off the coast from May through to November.
Release Turtle Hatchlings (Ogasawara Marine Centre)
The Ogasawara Islands are Japan’s largest spawning ground for its native green sea turtles. Spot large green turtles crawling ashore to lay eggs between May and August. During the summer, the Centre also offers turtle conservation activities such as releasing green turtle hatchlings from its protected breeding areas back into the ocean.
Watch Love Ventures and Tokyo, Sunday, 20 November, 10pm MY/SIN/HK. Watch the full premiere episode Free Here!