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Izu Peninsula: Top 5 Outdoor Adventures

| Izu Peninsula
Izu Peninsula: Top 5 Outdoor Adventures

The Izu Peninsula is a stunning stretch of land jutting into the Pacific Ocean from Shizuoka Prefecture. It's one of the nation's top scuba diving locales and features sweeping beaches were you can hit the waves for a day a surfing. Seaside towns dot the coast, while coastal cycling and island tours abound. Here's what you need to know!

Scuba Diving

Scuba Diving

Scuba diving is the number one outdoor activity in the Izu Peninsula, drawing hordes of local holiday makers and foreign tourists to the area every spring, summer and fall. The rugged volcanic coastline is covered in lush foliage and wide sandy beaches. Dive centers are studded around the coast, located on headlands and coves caressed by the temperate Pacific waters.

The display of marine life in Izu is surprisingly varied, even close to the coastline. Moray eels slither among mounds on the rocky seabed, sea turtles amble along without a care in the world, clown fish pop in and out of soft-tendrilled anemone, while schools of colorful fish swim around in practiced synchronicity, and myriad shellfish dot the ocean floor.

There are options around the peninsula for divers of all levels of ability, from beach dives for first-timers to open-ocean dives for advanced dive masters. With the recent rise of Izu on tourist's radars, dive shops offering English support have sprung forth to accommodate them. It's also possible to arrange an English-speaking dive guide to take you out at your dive spot of choice. The Izu Oceanic Park Diving Center has some great options.

Surfing in Shimoda

Surfing in Shimoda

Izu Peninsula's surfing beaches are arguably as widely acclaimed as its dive sites. Shimoda, a port city on the peninsula's southeastern coast, is considered to have some of the best surf in the country, and possibly the Asian continent. If you are a bit of a wave junky, this should be your first port of call!

Shirahama Beach is no doubt the most popular—and therefore the most packed—but the scenery of tree-smothered mountains standing sentinel behind an 800-meter long white beach give it an alluringly tropical air. Plus the waves are decent, and should be more than enough for beginner borders.

If you consider yourself a little more adept, check out Tatadohama Beach. This is Shimoda's self-proclaimed surfing hotspot; yet this may not be an entirely unsubstantiated claim. The beach can get super crowded during peak seasons, but it tosses up some of the best waves this side of the country.

Join a Cycling Tour

Join a Cycling Tour

Shizuoka Prefecture is the partial home to Japan's most famous and revered volcano, Mount Fuji, along with Yamanashi. As such, there are some vast stretches of wilderness along the Izu Peninsula where you can catch sight of the snow-tipped basalt mountain rising regally above the surrounding hills. A bicycle is one of the best ways to access said views.

The topographical layout of the peninsula is undulating, so you may have your work cut out for you. But the glorious, not to mention isolated, sight of Fuji will be a just reward for your hard work. If you don't fancy flying solo, you can join a tour; Great Nature Tours is one of the most popular providers of walking and cycling tours around Izu.

Swim with Dolphins

Swim with Dolphins

The Izu island chain, just south of the peninsula, is home to several families of Indian Ocean bottlenose dolphins. Miyakejima and Mikurajima in particular are hotspots for watching, or swimming with, these majestic aquatic mammals. The Dolphin Club offer tours, and you can take a direct boat from Tokyo!

Exploring and Dining in Atami

Atami, another of Izu's costal cities, is Japan's answer to the French Riviera. Atami is a popular getaway for big city players, with an atmosphere of palpable wealth littered throughout. The beach and lengthy promenade are pristine, and the herd of glitzy white yachts tethered to the marina compose a very pleasing seaside view. But never fear, you don't need to be rolling in the Benjamins to squeeze a bit of entertainment out of Atami.

Naturally, the city is known for its delicious seafood cuisine; this is what you should be on the lookout for. Along the sea front, grilled fish restaurants and seafood stalls waft mouth-watering salty orders around the immediate vicinty. Sushi also features heavily, with master chefs slicing and dicing the morning's catch for their evening services. Either way, take your time and enjoy the grub (I have no doubt you will!).

Exploring & Diving in Atami

Atami is another of Izu's coastal cities, basically Japan's answer to the French Riviera. Atami is a popular getaway for big city players, with an atmosphere of palpable wealth littered throughout. The beach and lengthy promenade are pristine, and the herd of glitzy white yachts tethered to the marina compose a very pleasing seaside view. But never fear, you don't need to be rolling in the Benjamins to squeeze a bit of entertainment out of Atami.

Naturally, the city is known for its delicious seafood cuisine; this is what you should be on the lookout for. Along the seafront, grilled fish restaurants and seafood stalls waft mouth-watering salty orders around the immediate vicinity. Sushi also features heavily, with master chefs slicing and dicing the morning's catch for their evening services. Either way, take your time and enjoy the grub (I have no doubt you will!).