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Mikurajima Dolphins 2018.09.13

Thanks to willeke4439, I noticed these beautiful islands in the Izu peninsula and planned a side trip. Since I'm a huge animal lover, I decided to go to Mikurajima for the 100 wild dolphins that live around the island and then Hachijojima for the onsen (and the plane that flies you back to Tokyo in 1h vs 8h boat ride).

The Tokai Kisen ferry departs once a day from Takeshiba Pier at 10:30pm and stops at Oshima, Miyakejima, Mikurajima and then Hachijojima before heading back. They warn that the boat may not be able to dock at the latter two islands so I was a little nervous. Luckily, the weather was great and the waters were smooth! Here's the view from the room window as we passed the bridge.

Since I really needed sleep to get enough energy for the dolphin swim the next morning, I bought a first class ticket. It's a cabin of 8 beds (separate M/F rooms) with a sleeping pad, blanket, and pillow. I was the only one in my room ^^ Since it's a separate room, the light system is independent of the rest of the ship and you can turn your lights off/on whenever you want. There're also large windows with blinds in the room and a small changing room on the side.

Disembarking at Mikurajima 5:55 am...

You need to have lodging reserved beforehand and they limit the number of visitors. I stayed at Yado Marui which is just up the slope a few minutes. All the inns have vans that pick you up off the dock. Most also have their own boats to take their guests on dolphin watching or dolphin swimming tours as that's the main draw for visitors.

The first swim started at 9:30 so they give you some time to settle in. Since I traveled by myself, I ended up having a roommate. Luckily, she was really nice and it was her first time too. To kill time, I ate my onigiri and drank tea, while she took a nap. View from the break room...

You have to get ready 30min before, so I suited up. They do have equipment for rental, but I brought most of my gear. My wetsuit was pretty bulky, but I think it was worth it since it's a little thicker than the ones they had for rent. Then you leave your clothes and towel by the bathing area and head out with your guide to the water!

The captain spots dolphins in the distance and the adjusts the position of the boat to predict where they'll be as they come closer. When we jump in, they're almost always there! I didn't have weights on the first swim so I basically snorkeled at the surface. They were deeper most of the time so I couldn't really capture them on video. And when they were closer, my record button didn't actually press XD I had weights the second dive but I don't have enough breath to dive down and interact and come up so I just go partway to see them better. Unfortunately, halfway through, my mask wasn't fitting right so water kept leaking in >_< Anyway, here's a video of what little I did record! I'll probably fix it up a bit later but here's the bare bonesThere were better moments than this for sure though so don't take it as a representation the experience. Like one swam right beside me and a few came up to breathe by me ^^

After the swim, you take a nice hot bath and hang your stuff to dry. While I had packed all my gear for this, I was stupid enough to forget sandals so there I was in my sopping wet trail sneakers (that are pretty waterproof on the outside but soaked as hell on the inside from all the water that came in on the boat). They had a sauna-like room to hang wet clothes so I put my sneakers there too, praying for a miracle.

For lunch, I went to the nearby souvenir store and Cafe for local Ashitaba curry. It actually tasted preyy good! Not spicy, but rich and healthy (and green). Dinner is included in the lodging fee and it was served at 6:30. I was so hungry by that point though, that I was pretty much pacing the dining hall entrance every few minutes XD

Fried pork cutlet and eggplant, tofu, sashimi, pickled veg, salad and rice. Dessert was some really tasty pear. It was a pretty huge portion but everyone finished! (Except I left an eggplant, sorry >_<)

Since I had an early morning the next day, leaving for Hachijojima at 6am, my roommate and I watched a bit of TV, chatted, and then slept at 9pm. She offered to help me put away my futon the next morning too ^^ (I'm sure I would've folded it all wrong with my 5am brain...)

I was too early for breakfast so the owner was nice to deduct it from my bill. She didn't realize I was leaving in the morning for Hachijojima so it was a bit of a scramble, but she gave me a bottle of water and we rushed to the pier! I ran to the office to check in and made it to the dock as the boat was approaching.

Hachijojima next up here!



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 28th, 2018 02:38 am (UTC)
Oh wow, you brought your own diving gear AND an underwater camera? That's some dedication, but it looks like it was well worth the effort! From that video alone I can tell how amazing it must have been! I'm also glad that the ryokan thing worked out! Your roommate sounds nice, too :3 Getting to talk to locals and other travelers is one of the things I really like about those homey casual type of inns.

That Ashitaba curry looks a lot better than the one I had on the ferry. :3 It must've been so nice having that whole first class room to yourself! They said the thing about possibly not being able to dock on my trip too, but in the end it was fine, so they're probably just covering their asses by saying that XD
Sep. 29th, 2018 06:19 am (UTC)
Yup, thanks for your help! It was a lot of fun ^^

I ended up shipping my diving stuff and the pottery mom bought so we didn't have to carry it the whole time. Good thing too cuz we ended up buying little things here and there! Japan sure markets itself well with local specialties in each area!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )