Chichijima Island (父島, Father Island) is the largest of the Ogasawara Islands. The mountainous island is covered in subtropical forest, white sand beaches and steep rocky cliffs. The remoteness and natural beauty of the island's green forests and deep blue oceans, combined with a relaxed island character make Chichijima a perfect place to escape from the speed of modern life.
After the long ferry ride from Tokyo, all visitors to the Ogasawara Islands arrive at Futami Port in the north of Chichijima. The port is surrounded by the only major village on the islands where most hotels, pensions, shops and restaurants are located. There you will also find the B-Ship tourist information office, where reservations for outdoor activity tours can be made.
Boat tours depart from Futami Port
Tours around the islands are mainly conducted in Japanese, however there are a few tour operators that can provide English speaking guides. The Ogasawara Village Tourist Association provides a helpful English guide map that lists all of the island's licensed guides and tour companies, and specifies their level of English and whether or not they accept credit cards.
Chichijima Island is popular for whale and dolphin watching. Humpback whales are frequently viewed between February and April, while sperm whales are often seen from July to September. Bottlenose Dolphins and Spinner Dolphins are found year round around the islands, and it is possible to swim with them or see them swim along side boats. Half day (around 6000 yen) and full day (around 10,000 yen) tours can be arranged at the B-Ship tourist information office or directly through tour operators.
Snorkeling around Chichijima
Exploring the ship wreck at Sakaiura Beach
Punctuating Chichijima's rocky coastline are multiple picturesque beaches that feature clear blue water perfect for sunbathing, swimming and snorkeling. The best season for beach activities and snorkeling is from June to October when the air temperature consistantly tops 25 degrees.
Some of the best beaches on Chichijima include:
Various other ocean activities, including scuba diving, sea kayaking, fishing, surfing, bodyboarding and windsurfing, can also be enjoyed in the waters off Chichijima Island. Inquire at B-Ship or directly through tour companies for more information on organized tours.
Chichijima also offers a network of trails and observation points across its mountainous interior, offering dramatic views over the island, cliffs and surrounding smaller islands. Some of the best observation points are the Weather Station Observatory near Futami Port, known for its sunsets and the possibility to spot humpback whales in winter, and the Mount Chuo Observatory with a 360 degree view. Among the wildlife to be spotted are endemic birds as well as introduced wild goats.
Mount Chuo Observation Deck
One of the most beautiful attractions around Chichijima is Minamijima Island (南島, South Island), located about one kilometer southwest of Chichijima. This small uninhabited island is home to many indigenous animals and plants and is a popular breeding ground for green sea turtles and a variety of sea birds. It features a picturesque small bay that is surrounded by a beautiful white sand beach and rocky cliffs and is connected to the ocean by a tunnel carved into the cliffside.
To protect Minamijima's fragile ecosystem only up to 100 visitors, accompanied by a licensed local guide, are allowed to visit the island each day, and the island is completely closed from November to February. Many companies offer tours of the island, typically combined with dolphin swimming and snorkeling for around 6000 yen (half day) or around 10,000 yen (full day). Reservations can be made at the B-Ship tourist information office or directly through tour companies.
Chichijima has a small but interesting range of restaurants and bars around Futami Port. Some of the local specialties to enjoy include Shimazushi, a nigiri style sushi made of soya sauce marinated sawara (wahoo) placed over sweetened rice and served with karashi mustard instead of wasabi. The adventurous can also try sea turtle, which is served raw, fried or stewed. The island also features a variety of tropical fruit and island tomatoes, as well as passion fruit rum.
To protect the unique natural environment of Chichijima, visitors must pay attention not to import any seeds or alien species to the island and refrain from collecting or otherwise harming the local plants and wildlife. For this reason camping and off-trail hiking are strictly prohibited throughout the island. Visitors are also encouraged to use human power as much as possible to get around the island.