Ever since I first visited the timeworn hot spring town of Atami, I’ve wanted to venture out to Hatsushima. Located just off of the coast, this small island is the first of a long chain that collectively is known as the Izu Islands. Though officially not a part of the archipelago (perhaps due to the rest of the islands falling under the jurisdiction of Tokyo), Hatsushima is still one of many land masses that extend deep out into the Pacific Ocean. Like with all of its cousins, Hatsushima and the rest of the Izu Islands are the result of violent volcanic eruptions eons ago before the dawn of history.
Now, why one would want to visit Hatsushima in the first place is a question worth answering. You see, unlike Atami back on the mainland, there aren’t that many cultural attractions and whatnot on the island. Instead, Hatsushima is a place that one would go to if they are looking to escape the city, relax in nature and enjoy some really, really good seafood. That said though, there are indeed a lot of fun activities to enjoy on Hatsushima like Hatsushima Adventure SARUTOBI (but more on that in a bit).
At the end of the day, I can only really recommend Hatsushima to those who are already planning on going to the hot spring resort town of Atami. That said, if you’re already thinking of an outing to the area and looking to add a little bit extra to your excursion to Atami, I highly suggest considering Hatsushima. Especially for those of you with kids, there’s a lot of fun things to do on the tiny isle which make for the perfect compliment to the rest of Atami.
How to Get There
At the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious here, I am going to start by saying that you’ll first need to make your way down from Tokyo. This can easily be done in around 30 minutes on the bullet train for no additional cost if you have the correct JR rail pass. All you need to do is board one of the Kodama Shinkansen bound for Shin-Osaka and then get off at Atami Station. From there, you can either figure out where to catch a bus bound for Atami Port or you can just walk it. If you want to see more of the homely onsen town, I suggest you take it slow and explore on foot.
Since the vaunted Japan Rail Pass (that enabled unlimited rides on all trains in Japan) will now be costing you whopping 50,000 yen, more people are going to skip purchasing it. For folks in this situation, know that you can still take the normal trains down to Atami but it will take you around an hour and a half. Personally, since I am a long-term resident and can’t make use of all of the fancy passes, I took the Green Car down on the Tokaido Line and got a bunch of work done.
Regardless of how you get to Atami Port though, the next leg of the journey will require that you take a ferry out to Hatsushima in Sagami Bay. If I recall, the boat ride took around half an hour or so but this could easily change depending on the sea currents. As with most islands that can only be reached by ferry, the trip out is a bit costly and will set you back a whopping 2,800 yen. Here’s a list of the departure times. As you’ll see, they are semi-infrequent, meaning you’ll want to time your travels well.
The Pica Hatsushima Island Resort
Since as far back as the Kamakura period (1185-1333), Hatsushima has been home to a small host of people. Even today, there are around a hundred or so souls that call the island their home and many of these individuals are local fishermen. Thanks to its position out on the bay, Hatsushima is an island that is known for natural fishing reefs and therefore it boasts some really fresh fish. There are a number of places to enjoy delicious seafood dishes along the island’s dining street. Like with a lot of the homes on this inhabited island, you’ll find this portion right near Hatsushima’s port.
Past the small settlement near the port and the neighboring dining street, much of the island is consumed by the Pica Hatsushima Island Resort. Within its confines, you’ll find a treasure trove of things to do. At the space’s core, there is the Asian Garden R Asia facility where you can relax in a hammock while nibbling on Nasi Goreng, Pad Thai, Loco Moco, and many other island dishes from around the world. What’s more, as the name suggests, this part of Hatsushima is also home to some seasonal flowers too.
All things considered, you could spend the better part of a day lazily meandering about the island. To keep things brief though, I’ve opted to list up all of the isle’s allures below. While you by no means need to visit them all, do take a quick look and see if any of these resonate with your interests. As always, I’ll include a link to a Google Map so you can figure out where everything is…
- Hatsushima Adventure SARUTOBI
Pictured above, this outdoor activity facility on Hatsushima offers an experience that is apparently quite popular in Europe. For around 30-60 minutes, you can enjoy traversing the trees as you look out at the ocean and the bay’s coastline. While not exactly for the faint of heart, you’ll have a harness that will keep you from falling.
- Shima-no-Yu & the Ocean Pool
Found on the backside of the island, Shima-no-Yu is the only public-use hot spring that can be found on Hatsushima. The baths look right out over the ocean and might make for the perfect way to chillax after pigging out on some fresh seafood. There is also a pool during summer.
- The Hatsushima Lighthouse
While oddly hard to see on the boat ride out to Hatsushima, this lighthouse is used to guide ships into Atami Port. While charming to behold, it’s not a must-see locale on the island. At the same time, it’s also located quite close to the resort areas so don’t sleep on it if you’ve got the time.
- Underwater Observatory Noah
I’ll be frank, I had to skip this one to make my last departure back to Atami so I am only guessing here. From what I can tell, it seems that this property has some sort of structure that extends underwater, thereby allowing you to observe all of the little fishes that swim by.
- Snorkeling, Diving & Fishing
Hatsushima is an island that is quite popular with families living in the region. From what I could tell, many of them were heading out to Hatsushima to enjoy marine activities like snorkeling, diving and fishing together as a family. If you have kids and are staying at the resort on the island, this might be something to consider.
- Hatsuki Shrine
Unassuming in its design, Hatsuki Shrine is, at least as far as I am aware, the principal shrine on Hatsushima. Nothing to write home about, the tiny sanctuary might be worth swinging by should you want to catch a glimpse of how the islanders live.
Finally, know that you can actually spend the night out on Hatsushima. While there aren’t many options for hotels, the Grand XIV Private Resort Hatsushima complex is really something special. While I only did a day trip, it looks like they serve some really scrumptious food. Alternatively, it also looks like there is a campground on the island too if you’d prefer to ditch the resort and sleep out under the stars.
Down by the Atami Port
If you’re going to go to Hatsushima, you really ought to check out some of the other things that Atami has to offer. While you need not explore the entirety of the seaside getaway, there are a lot of spots to note right next to Atami Port. For example, the ropeway up to Atami Castle and the neighboring adult museum (an infamous attraction in the area) can be found directly adjacent to where you’ll disembark when returning from Hatsushima.
Additionally, much of Atami’s coastline can easily be reached from the port as well. Some highlights are Atami’s Ginza shopping street as well as the ever-popular Sun Beach. Rather than berate the point though, I’ll instead elect to just send you to my ultimate guide to Atami. This article will give you plenty of suggestions for add-ons to your time at the Hatsushima island resort.
Finally, thanks to Atami’s mild climate, this part of Shizuoka Prefecture actually has some of the earliest-blooming cherry blossoms around. Should you be visiting Japan during the month of February, why not go down to Atami Station for a day and catch some pink pretties before either having some seafood out on Hatsushima continuing on to somewhere else.
Other Nearby Attractions
Outside of Atami’s many offerings, there are a ton of other things to see and do down in this part of Japan. For example, though most people won’t want to backtrack, Odawara Castle and Hakone are but a mere stone’s throw away. For many of you with some sort of rail pass, you’ll instead want to hop on a bullet train and continue on towards Osaka and Kyoto. Should you feel enticed to get off again soon en route though, do consider Mishima Skywalk and the ancient Mishima Taisha.
Atami’s also a great jumping off point for exploring the rest of the Izu Peninsula. You could head all the way down to the historic port town of Shimoda or you could double down on hot springs and swing by Shuzenji Onsen. Honestly, the possibilities are endless in this portion of Shizuoka if you know where to look in the prefecture. Heck, you could even plan a visit to Fujisan Hongu Sengen Taisha, the main shrine to Mt. Fuji, and the Mt. Fuji World Heritage Center.
Finally, should your visit to Hatsushima happen to align with the month of October, I have one final suggestion for you. Known as the Inatori Hosono Highlands, this spectacle can be found deep in the mountains of the Izu Peninsula. As can be seen in the photograph above, the Inatori Hosono Highlands are home to endless fields of susuki silver grass and will leave you breathless should you visit in autumn.
Until next time travelers…