Sometimes touted as the Hawaii of Japan, Hachijojima Island is a great retreat from busy Tokyo any time of year. The island’s population swells in the summer with holiday visitors. In winter, the weather may be changeable, but temperatures on this subtropical island vary between 10 and 12 degrees. Winter is my preferred time to go, when the island is quieter, but no less beautiful. Accommodation on the island ranges from guest houses to hotels to hostels. Just three kilometers from Hachijojima Airport and Sokodo Port, Lido Park Resort Hachijo is my casual and convenient base to explore the island.
I was received at Sokodo Port by a friendly driver of the complementary shuttle bus. Since it was winter, just before the New Year holiday, I was the only passenger. It’s about a 10 minute drive or one hour walk to the hotel. Don’t let the distance from the ferry port or airport put you off considering this hotel, as the location is one of its best points. The route to the hotel affords great views of the ocean and mountain. The hotel is at the foot of Hachijo-Fuji, the tallest peak in the Izu Island chain, above the beach looking out onto the Philippine Sea. The distance from the town center makes it a dark sky location. On clear nights, guests are invited to view the Milky Way from the rooftop terrace.
At the front desk, I was greeted in both English and Japanese. Most staff can accommodate English speaking guests, and I overheard other guests chatting in English with staff. My room looked onto a wide lawn and the mountain. All guest rooms on the east side of the building have ocean views. The large rooms have a seating area where you can rest from your travels. The modern en suite bathrooms are fully appointed. Guests can easily spend the whole day in the hotel at the outdoor pool, and directly across the road is Yuyu Bokujo Farm where early risers can watch the Jersey cattle being milked. If you desire pampering, the front desk staff can direct you to nearby aromatherapy, massage and bodywork studios.
I explored the island on one of the resort's electric-assist bicycles. The island is mountainous, but if on these convenient bicycles you can easily ride to attractions such as luscious Hachijo Botanical Garden, The Jersey Café to enjoy great dairy treats, and further on to the Kihachijo Meyu Workshop. Hachijojima is also a great place for scuba diving and golfing.
After my adventures, I enjoyed a hearty course dinner which included island specialties – shimazushi, a kind of soy sauce marinated sushi, ashitaba, famous produce of the islands, and kusaya, pungent preserved fish, all elegantly presented and delicious. After my meal, I soaked in the immaculately clean and spacious outdoor bath, listening to the boats in the harbor.
The dining hall at Lido Park Resort can also accommodate young diners, provides western and Japanese breakfast, and vegetarian options. Just ask at the front desk.