Dear guests and future guests, my name is Maddy, I am a thirty years old French girl traveling around the world for six months and the Izu Peninsula is by far my favorite place until now. I really enjoy the serenity that surrounds me here and the nature which is everywhere has a lot to do with it. Thanks to my hosts Angela and Yasu I found out that cycling along the coastline is the best way to experience the beauty of the place and if you are ready to have your breath taken away, ride a bike ! You can enjoy the Kisami area thanks to the bicycles available at the guest house for 500 yen per day. Moreover, I highly suggest that you take a day bicycle ride south and around the coast. You will have to pay a 3,500 yen for the renting of a bicycle with gears (http://cyclingjapan.jp/rental/index.htm) to go on this ride up and down those mountainous roads. Before leaving be sure to wear a cap, to use plenty of sunscreen and to load your bicycle with one or two bottles of fresh water to hydrate yourself as often as possible. No need to worry about finding toilets as there are some at every touristic spots you will find on your tour (and don’t forget to refill your bottles once you are there). Now that you are on your bike, ride at your own pace. The Izu Peninsula has an abundance of natural beauty and you are free to take your time and take fully advantage of this breathtaking scenic coastline where you can breathe, rest, drink, eat and take some photos to share this experience with your friends later. By the way, even though this tour is the perfect occasion to challenge yourself and spend some time alone in the nature, having company might be a good idea especially if you are not used to cycle in mountainous areas. However you will see that those roads are perfect to ride a bicycle and will enjoy to have good brakes when the time will come to cycle down. I join to this article a map of a nice itinerary. On one hand the first thirty kilometers on the coastline are the most breathtaking but difficult. On the other hand the way back along the road 136 is much more easier but offers less interesting spots. I suggest that you take your time on the first part. Remember that happiness is in the doing not in the getting what you want. So cycle and have fun!
From Guesthouse tabi-tabi, take a 40 minute bus ride down and around the coast to Nakagi, pay a 1000 yen for a 5 minute boat ride and you’ll arrive at the underwater wonderland, Hirizo. Before boarding the ship you can pick up some cold drinks, and rent the required snorkel and mask for only 500 yen. Do pack well, Hirizo is nothing but a rocky beach. There are no toilets or vending machines. We brought beach chairs, a parasol, towels, fins (flippers), sunscreen, drinks, snacks, and an underwater camera. If you have a wetsuit or surfing vest it will keep you in the water longer and let you dive deeper as it can get pretty chilly hanging out with cold blooded creatures all day. There are tons of fish to see! I wish I knew the names of them all but can just tell you there are big ones, little ones, blue ones, yellow ones, and striped ones. Some hang out in massive schools while others can be seen hiding alone between rocks and soft coral. We spotted lots of sea anemone too but have yet to find any nudibranches (colorful sea-slugs) but I know they are out there somewhere! Will be back soon with a better pair of goggles to help me find the finer creatures. Click on any pic for my flickr set!
UPDATE: Please be aware that on days when waves are big or the sea is choppy there will be no boats heading to Hirizo. You can find contact details for Nakagi and Hirizo on their (Japanese only) website here.
Luckily, Typhoon Tala did not hit Shimoda directly. And although we had to put up with a bit of rain on and off for a few days, we got to enjoy the massive swell brought on by typhoon # 12.
Another great way to experience Izu’s natural beauty is to get on a bike and ride. Aloha Bike Trip Cycling Tours can take you on road trips, mountain bike tours, night cruises, half day rides, over-night adventures, and can show the kids around as well. They have tours for all levels, provide instruction for beginner moutain bikers, and have bikes for rent. They also have experienced English-speaking guides and a great English website. Check it out here
Sea Kayaks have got to be the best way to explore Izu’s incredibly beautiful coastline. Guides can take you into caves and through natural tunnels. There are quite a few sea kayak tour guides in the area. We went with Surface. They have English speaking guides, provide lunch and lessons that give you the confidence you need for a full day tour.
Surfmats are an easy, fun, cheap, and safer way to ride waves. Yasu has a Krypt MT5 and I have the Tracker Roundtail from 4th Gear Flyer. I love my flyer! Big smiles spread my face wide as I rip towards the coast. These mats can also ride side-by-side as there is no danger in hurting someome with these cushy air-filled mats. On a beautiful day I also like to paddle out past the break, watch the waves getting pulled to the coast line, and grab a tan along the way.
Here is a video of the legend surfer/knee boarder/ surfmatter, George Greenough, on a day out:
I have a tremendous amount of respect for surfers. I have tried many times to learn to stand on a board, and in the meantime spent hours paddling without moving, getting hit by my board, pummeled by waves, dragged by tides, and chickening out when I finally did get close.
I haven’t given up on surfing entirely but I have added to my collection of beach toys, and quiver of sticks. A handplane is a mini board that anyone can ride. Basically, it’s a better way to bodysurf. Even when conditions are far from perfect for surfers, handplanes still shred.
The Mimami Izu Hiking Trail is know for its amazing views off the high jagged peak of Cape Tarai, or what the local people call “a fierce god”. To get to the trail we took the 20 minute bus ride from tabi-tabi to Yumi-ga-hama. From there we walked to Ogahama, a beautiful rocky beach with interesting rock formations. At the end of the beach you will find the Minami Izu (Cape Tarai) trail head. The trails are well maintained and have Japanese and English signs with maps and explanations along the way. The hike leads you through lush forests, over high jagged cliffs, and along a scenic rocky cove. We stopped many times to worship Izu’s amazing coast line, getting mystified by the sound of the crashing waves, and linger in the therapeutic aroma of the rich soil and other earthy delights. The trail ends in Toji, another beach with a real local feel, where we had ice-cream from the candy shop. From there we followed the main road past the Sand Ski Hill, The Open Cave, Goishi Beach, Ohama Beach, and back to tabi-tabi. The entire journey (from tabi-tabi and back again) only took about 3 hours, but left us feeling refreshed by nature’s divine energies.
A good friend if mine has a good friend who helps Loaded Longboards get promoted in Japan. Lucky for me, my friend was so impressed by these beautiful bamboo boards he decided to buy a Loaded Dervish for me! Thanks, Boss!
I can’t do anything real impressive but love carving and a bit of not-too-steep down hill. It’s also a realy fun way to get to Re-Mix for some homemade ice-cream. This is what these boards are really meant for though: