Once connected to the mainland by a cable car, nowadays the only way to get to Awa Island is by boat. It is a short and pleasurable boat ride from mainland Numazu to the east pier of the craggy island. The small uninhabited island is home to a marine park, a restaurant, an illuminated tunnel, a monument and a luxurious hotel. There are also a couple of small shrines on the island.
It is one of our favorite aquariums in all of Japan, although, by definition, it is less an aquarium and more a sea park. Almost entirely outdoors, it is the perfect place to visit sea life during the pandemic. Sea life at the aquarium includes dolphins, penguins, seals, turtles and frogs. They have the largest frog house in Japan.
Awashima Marine Park is, in my opinion, one of the most underrated places in Numazu City. Most of the tourists go to Mito Sea Paradise or the Numazu Deep Sea Aquarium. It may be that the boat ride turns people off, but for us it was the initial allure. What I love most about Awashima Marine Park is that the dolphins have large pens right in the open sea. Another thing I appreciate is that at Iwa Island you can get up close to most of the sea life. The marine park isn't actually that large, spanning no more than 500 meters. Neither is the island for that matter with a perimeter of just 2.5 kilometers, you could walk it in less than an hour.
Located on the boardwalk, perched on the sea, the restaurant affords stunning views of the island and the mainland. But the best of all: one side of the restaurant overlooks a dolphin keep in the open sea. The restaurant is, no surprises, a sea food restaurant. It is reasonably priced, considering its location, with most meals costing less than ￥2000. The restaurant is open from 11 am to 3 pm, except for Saturdays when it opens until 4.30 pm.
Wyndham Grand Awashima Hotel
Tucked away on the north end of the island, behind large opulent gates is the Wyndham Grand Awashima hotel. There is a spectacular view of Mt Fuji from the hotel. They have an outdoor hot spring by the sea. Several famous people have stayed here, including the Imperial family and a former French President. The price of the hotel has come down considerably over the years. When we visited prices started from ￥60,000, but currently they have rooms for as little as ￥25,000 per person per night. Like the sea park, the only way to the hotel is by boat. They have a waiting room on the mainland where you can comfortably wait for the boat to pick you up.