Himakajima is a short ferry ride from Kowa Station. A free shuttle bus leaves from the station regularly, but to be honest it is not a very long walk.
I went to play with dolphins (¥1,000) and the pier and beach where the fun happens is literally next to the ferry terminal. The person in charge explained that allowing the dolphins to swim somewhat freely in the ocean was inspired by a similar practice in Australia.
I didn’t really give a one yen coin about dolphins before visiting Himakajima, but changed my mind immediately after “meeting” them. They are beautiful, curious creatures. Their love of playing and listening to their instructors (when they felt like it) reminded me of human children.
We all stood in a line, shoulder to shoulder; the instructor told us that dolphins love “gaps” and will try to swim though them. Then the dolphins were let out of their pen and swam over to us. The instructors gave them whole treats everytime they followed instructions correctly. The dolphins of course were quick to remind their instructors that they were being “good”.
We petted the dolphins a bit. Their skin feels like rubber, which makes sense considering they swim in the ocean. Then they swam out into the ocean and did some tricks then returned to their pen.
After going for a swim we went up to the 7th floor of the hotel and enjoyed an “onsen-like” Japanese sento with a nice view of the sea. I didn’t expect a hot bath to feel very nice in the heat of the summer, but it was actually pretty relaxing. Sitting in the bath, it was easy to forget that the island is only a few minutes boat ride from the Aichi mainland.
After bathing it was time for a beach BBQ! Himakajima is known for octopus, so we had some octopus and beer on the beach. It was so good. Forget the tragic, cold slices of octopus you’re probably accustomed to, these were basically octopus steaks! Other highlights were the akamiso soup with huge chunks of crab in it, and yakiniku-style slices of beef.
After that, it was time to go home. Which is not really a big deal because Himakajima is literally minutes away from the train home. Mission accomplished!
Of course, no trip away from home would be complete without some omiyage. There are lots of choices, but my wife was pleased Himakajima nori, strips of dried seaweed you can buy in a jar. A lovely umami, savory kick that can improve plain rice or pasta. A little bit sweeter than the popular Kankoku (Korean) nori.
Things to do on Himakajima:
- Walking around the whole island takes two hours. It’s 30 min by bicycle which you can rent for ¥500 an hour.
- near the east port there is a fun swing called “Heidi’s Swing” after the famous anime character. Enjoy the view, and don’t fall off!
- Lots of fun activities for kids at the eastern “Sunrise Beach” like snorkelling, kayaking, trampoline, a climbing castle raft-making, craft lessons & more.
By train: Kowa Station on the Meitetsu Kowa line then a free shuttle bus or 7 min walk to Kowa Port.
By Car: Get off the Minami Chita road at the Toyooka interchange then drive to Morozaki Port.
Himakajima is a 10 min boat ride from either port.