Another slightly lazy morning, but the air was full of moisture and rain clouds occasionally dumping their allotment of wetness onto the whole island. Within the Haha-jima youth hostel, most of the guests were busy packing their bags for their long trip back to
Compared to Haha island, Chichi island is definitely an island of plenty. Grocery stores with plenty of products and choices, shops opened later, restaurants, gift shops, plenty of accommodations and a variety of activities to try out. Swimming with the dolphins, going out on a bunker/war ruins/jungle walking tour, SCUBA diving, etc…
Unfortuantely, compared to Haha-jima the ruins of war, and bunkers are not well posted nor are there any signs that describe what you can see. If you’re the adventurous type and am happy with wandering around the bush with a compass and a “not to scale map” you can find many interesting artifacts. Plenty of bunkers, tunnels, trentches, artillery remains and even a downed American fighter.
A quick swim from the island you can find yourself surrounded by plenty of tropical fish, and coral… and also sunken ships from the Second World War. If you venture further out by boat, a wonderfully tiny by beautiful island “Minami-jima” has beautifully white sands which are covered in fossils of tiny shells and is the home to hundreds of green sea turtles and a cove full of sharks. From the numerous boats that take you out to sea, there many opportunites to catch a whale or two or three in a single hour and the opportunity to swim within pods of dolphin. If swimming with wild dolphins is something for you, this is also a great time to test your “Sumoguri” (free-diving) skills. Holding your breath and diving to 15m+ depths to follow the dolphins. All I can say is that, those are darn fast mammals to swim with. They certainly don’t move very slowly. And if you’re lucky like I was… you can may be swim with a green sea turtle. Though, as soon as you try to go on its back, it spins around to shake you off. Obviously not wanting any of us to bother it. (totally understandable)
For the last night at the Youth Hostel, a farewell party was held with plenty of local treats. Turtle stew, local fish for sushi with mustard and other wonderful dishes. A couple of Ukulele performances, songs and story telling. And a wonderful send off at the ferry terminal at our departure. A ferry send off has become a traditional event for much of the locals. Boats following the ferry out to see, and many of the boaters jumping off into the cold waters to show their appreciation of your visit to the island, with plenty of calls to return again.
All in all, Haha-jima is definitely a much more laid back, and slow moving island. And Chichi-jima definitely shows its wealth in physical size and options for things to do. If you require a bit more modern amenities then Chichi-jima is for you. If a much more remote and small island is what you wish, Haha-jima is for you. No matter the island, you’re definitely in for a wonderful experience if you get down there. Islands which are a part of the Metropolis of Tokyo, but not many actually get to venture that far.
P.S. The Ogasawaras is also the location where marine biologists were successfully able to capture video images of deep sea giant squids.