For surfing, most overseas visitors turn to Okinawa or another one of Japan’s tropical islands. However, just a few hours of Tokyo lies Niijima, the most famous surf spot for locals and professionals alike. The 23 kilometer island is dedicated to the art of the wave. Surfing competitions for locals and professionals can be found throughout the year.
While Niijima’s surfing culture is great, it is still not established as a tourist destination, especially in the months outside of summer. The local vibes are strong but the residents are friendly and the island is easily accessible by car.
For the passionate surfer it is recommended to bring personal surfboards on the overnight Tokai Kisen ferry or high speed boat. There will be an oversize baggage fee. It might be easier to rent equipment on the island. The town center offers a variety of rental shops, ranging from beach toys to longboards.
There are two types of rental shops, non professional and professional. The non professional shops are found along the main street of Niijima in the town center. Here, visitors can rent ocean gear such as bodyboards, snorkels, beach toys and bicycles. For surfers or for the more experienced, a professional shop has more to offer. Kye Surf Shop is the most popular place to rent surf gear. They offer a variety of surfboards and wetsuits if needed. The rental prices are affordable, ranging from 3,500 yen for a shortboard to 6,000 yen for a longboard per day. Kye is located next to Dosanko Ramen, where surfers can grab a bowl of noodles before or after hitting the waves.
Habushiura is the most well known beach on Niijima. The seven kilometer stretch of turquoise water gives plenty of space for everyone wanting to take advantage of the prime waves. The beach is also home to many of Niijima’s surfing competitions.
Habushiura is the easiest beach to access, only being a twenty minute walk from Niijima airport or a quick ten minute drive from Niijima port. It’s also a quick walk from the town center, where most surfers would rent their gear. In the summer, Habushiura can get quite crowded with a mix of surfers, sunbathers and swimmers. However, Niijima is filled with surf spots, most of them only accessible by car.
Both locals and visitors rave about the surf spot Secret, which isn’t so confidential anymore. The secrecy of the beach lies in its reclusive atmosphere. To reach Secret, surfers must walk south of Habushiura for twenty minutes along the coast, trudging through lush greenery and unchanging beach scenery. They are rewarded with Secret’s towering cliffs and large waves.
The lucky ones with a car can simply drive along the coast until they reach Secret. Only four wheel drives can be driven along the sand. Any other vehicle will get stuck. The best waves are in the afternoon, according to the regulars.
Awaiura is another popular surfing spot. It is located on the northern part of Niijima and only accessible by vehicle. Awaiura is a bay-like beach and is surrounded by mountains. The rocky cliffs and greenery create a picturesque backdrop to the aquamarine waves. The beach is known for its hollow waves and challenging waters. Awaiura is normally frequented by experienced surfers but anyone can explore the daring atmosphere with the right equipment and attitude.