Experiencing Miyake Island (三宅島): Swimming with Wild Dolphins - Vikingess Voyages

Monday, August 24, 2015

Experiencing Miyake Island (三宅島): Swimming with Wild Dolphins

Experiencing Miyake Island Part 1

With its 6,852 islands Japan sure has enough islands to choose from for those who like to explore the wild nature on the outskirts of Japan's bustling cities. Just a couple of hours south of Tokyo and the Izu Peninsula you can find the Izu Islands, a group of volcanic islands that administratively are a part of Tokyo. These islands are relatively easy to get to, as you can reach some of the islands by plane in about an hour or so from Haneda airport. If you're on a budget it is also possible to take a night ferry from Tokyo's Hamamatsu-cho getting you to some of the islands in as little as 6 1/2 hours.

Although we had a great time exploring Miyake Island the main reason we decided to travel there was actually to be found right outside the neighboring Mikura (御蔵島) Island: Wild dolphins! Before we came to Miyake Island I had heard that one could swim with wild dolphins here, and as dolphins are among my favorite animas we simply had to go on one of these tours. I personally dislike seeing dolphins and other whales in captivity (please check out the documentary Blackfish if you haven't yet seen it), so getting the chance to swim with the dolphins in their natural environment was a great opportunity to get close to them without intervening too much in their daily life.

On our way to Mikura Island
Mikura Island seen from our boat
Of course the downside of swimming with dolphins in the wild is that it all happens so quickly - the guide will drop you off the boat so that you are in the dolphin's path, and you'll get a glimpse of it as it swims by you. This is repeated a number of times, and if you're lucky the dolphins will show interest in you and come closer once or twice- sometimes so close that you can even reach out and touch them if you want. Which you of course should not do, as it will frighten them and make them swim away from you. Either way the dolphins are eager swimmers, and before you know it they will be out of sight again. It is kinda like playing hide and seek, as you know they are out there somewhere even when you can't see them. Instead you'll hear them sing to each other and watch them from afar as they play around on the bottom of the sea.

Curious dolphins
As we kept on jumping on and off the boat in our attempt to get close to the dolphins the whole process got quite tiring to be honest (yes, I got seasick and ended up feeding the fishes if you know what I mean). Still, the few moments where we had a dolphin swimming up close to us or passing by only a meter or so from us really made the experience worth it. Seeing the dolphins in their natural environment was simply amazing!

Dolphins in the sunlight
Yuma's best attempt at taking a selfie with the dolphins
Sometimes you can get really close to the dolphins, but they're often gone again before you even realize it

There are a number of tour operators taking the trip to the coast of Mikura Island. We went there on a trip arranged by the owner of the guesthouse we stayed at, but for those who don't speak Japanese there are other tour operators who might be more suitable for the trip. For more information, please check out the links below.

Other Pages:
三宅島スナッパー Snapper (Japanese Only) - Our guesthouse and tour operator
Dolphin Club Miyake - A tour operator offering tours in English

Agoda Partner Links:
Hotels in Japan
Hotels in the Izu Islands

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About Anette
Anette came to Japan as an exchange student in 2010, met the love of her life and got stuck. From her base in Tokyo she writes about her experiences as a full-time worker in Tokyo and about her travels in Japan and abroad. She's a free-spirited adventurer who enjoys both the great outdoors and her urban lifestyle.

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About Me

Adventures ofAnette

A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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