For an easy weekend get-away, consider Shimoda, on the Izu Peninsula. Approximately a four hour drive from Yokota Air Base, Shimoda offers great beaches, camping, hiking, and more. It’s a great place to stay while exploring the Izu Peninsula. It’s rich in history and has a fun “beach town” vibe. Check out any one of these nearby attractions while you are visiting: iZoo, Yumigahama Beach, Mine Hot Spring and Geyser, Kawazu Seven Waterfalls, Jogasaki Coastline, and more. There are maps throughout the area that will help you discover new and different adventures.
When my husband and I visited Shimoda, we stayed at the Ernest House, a great little “bed and breakfast” only a two minute walk to the Kisami-Ohama beach and a 10 minute drive from downtown Shimoda. They offer breakfast in a picnic basket (encouraging you to take it to the beach!), and have a restaurant called Café Mellow, providing food and beverages. During the evening, we enjoyed sitting by the hotel’s fire pit, and soaking our feet in the Jacuzzi. They also allow you to use their bikes, boogie boards and beach toys at no additional cost. Check out their website for more info and reservations, the owner speaks great English and is incredibly helpful. The website can be viewed in both English and Japanese. They have pet friendly rooms. http://www.ernest-house.com/index.html. GPS: 34.655598, 138.917184. Parking across the street is free. Book well in advance, as the summer months are the busiest.
If you are looking to have a more rustic experience, there is a camp ground right next to the Ernest House, called Marin Side Camp. They have bathrooms, showers, and you can park your vehicle right next to your camp spot. Open late April through the end of November. The telephone is 0557 54 2353. Call to make reservations. Spots fill up quickly during the summer months. Approximately ¥1000-2000 per tent and ¥500 per person. GPS: 34.655256, 138.918009. Michelle Nexon, March 2014.