What better way to escape the smoldering heat island that is Tokyo over the Bon holidays than spending a few days on the breezy Izu Islands? After having enjoyed both hiking and the beach life on Oshima last year, the biggest and closest by of the seven islands, we wanted to try something new this time. Also Niijima (新島), a little further out and considerably smaller, is serviced by the Jet Boat of Tokai Kisen, which makes for a smooth and fast ride. Boasting the “most beautiful beach of the Izu Islands”, it seemed a perfect match.With only 2500 inhabitants, Honzon, the main village, seemed rather sleepy. Even during high season, most of the souvenir shops were completely empty. There are two beaches on the side of Niijima Port and another on the Habushiura side, which is the one famous for its beauty and suitability for surfing. Maehama Beach right next to the town is protected by a line of wave breakers and also sports a large structure covered by reed mats to shade the visitors from the strong sun. It was quite easy to tell the tourists from the locals: while many of the former quickly took on the color of cooked lobster, the latter sported a deep tan fit for any place in the tropics. While the locals evidently had no such compunctions, many of the female visitors seemed more of the idea that a tan is not appropriate for a lady and went to swim in long-armed shirts or jackets (apparently tanned legs are less unacceptable than tanned arms). We also visited the Habushiura Beach on the other side of the island and Mamashitaura Beach with its scenic cliffs, both of which have much more waves. But to spend the day, Maehama turned out to be the best, since it is the only beach with a sun shade. The temperature was much more pleasant than in Tokyo, due to a steady sea breeze and passing clouds which all seemed to attach themselves to the highest point of the island. While there is a “Grand Hotel” in the center of the island, most visitor accommodations are simple Minshuku, where you essentially stay in the houses of the locals. While Niijima’s biggest attraction is undoubtedly the surfing beach on the Habushiura side, it’s a perfect getaway for anyone looking to leave behind the crowds of the big town and to spend a few days lazing on the beach and floating in the warm turquoise waters of the Niijima Beaches.