OGASAWARA IS­LANDS, Japan

Wanderlust Travel Magazine (UK) - - Remote Island Escapes -

GOOD FOR: See­ing an al­ter­na­tive side to Japan

The Ogasawara (or Bonin) Is­lands are some­thing of an odd­ity. De­spite ly­ing 1,000km off Japan’s coast, the ar­chi­pel­ago is ac­tu­ally ad­min­is­tra­tively part of Tokyo pre­fec­ture. Yet the ar­chi­pel­ago’s aqua­ma­rine shal­lows, sub-trop­i­cal jun­gles and white-sand beaches couldn’t be more dif­fer­ent from the neon flash of the big city. Th­ese is­lands of­fer a side of Japan that few trav­ellers ever see.

Ogasawara com­prises 30-plus is­lands, but the ma­jor­ity of its 2,400-strong pop­u­la­tion live on Chichi-jima (Fa­ther Is­land). This is also where hump­backs (Jan-apr) sperm whales (May-nov) and dol­phins (year-round) might be spot­ted off­shore, and where you can kayak to a succession of glo­ri­ous coves and beaches. Steep, eroded cliffs serve up fine viewpoints while, in the clear wa­ters below, Sec­ond World War relics rust amid kalei­do­scopic schools of fish. In­land, trails wind deep into Chichi-jima’s forests, where fly­ing foxes and en­demic birds flit be­tween the trees.

Just a kilo­me­tre off­shore lies a real trea­sure: the tiny, un­in­hab­ited isle of Mi­nami-jima. It’s a key breed­ing ground for green sea tur­tles and only 100 vis­i­tors are al­lowed there each day.

GET­TING THERE: Fer­ries leave from Tokyo for Chichi-jima every six days (every three days in high sea­son); jour­ney time is 24 hours.

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