When was the last time you had a romantic trip with your special someone? Or maybe you two did go on a vacation to get away from the hustle and bustle, but ended up somewhere that's just as crowded with tourists and focused more on taking pictures instead of each other?
A romantic car camping date is for you!
But isn't that dangerous? And why not just go to a fancy hotel?
The bohemian lifestyle enthusiasts and vanlifers "Eri-Taku Couple" share their unique, fun, and romantic car camping adventure at Ito Marine Town Roadside Station in Izu, Shizuoka. We touched on this same camping site in our previous entry, "Living in a van! A minimalist couple's van life | Eri-Taku Couple."
Ito Marine Town (571-19 Yukawa Ito, Shizuoka 414-0002)
Facing the beautiful Sagami Bay, Ito Marine Town is a resort town that boasts not only of great ocean view and mountains, and colorful architecture, but also of amazing food and hot springs. It is the perfect place for couples and families to unwind.
Suggested itinerary at Ito Marine Town by Eri-Taku Couple
· 12:30 p.m. ~ Arrive at Ito Marine Town
· 12:40 p.m. ~ Relax at Attamarina footbath
· 1:00 p.m. ~ Choose a restaurant for lunch
· 1:15 p.m. ~ Have a seafood combo rice bowl at Izu Kogen Beer
· 3:00 p.m. ~ Stroll along the oceanfront
· 3:30 p.m. ~ Have a dessert break at a café
· 5:00 p.m. ~ Take a dip at Seaside Spa hot spring
· 6:30 p.m. ~ Cool down at the resting area
· 7:00 p.m. ~ Shop at MEGA Don Quijote: Ito Branch
· 7:30 p.m. ~ Get ready for bedtime (put the backrests down, hop into your pajamas, etc.)
· 8:00 p.m. ~ Enjoy some evening cocktails or drinks
· 10:30 p.m. ~ Finish your nighttime routine (brushing your teeth, etc.)
· 11:00 p.m. ~ Retire for the night
· 6:00 a.m. ~ Wake up to a wonderful view of the ocean and fresh coffee
What kind of place is Ito Marine Town?
Ito Marine Town is a roadside station in Ito, Shizuoka. If you go from Tokyo, drive past Atami and further along the sea on Route 135 to get there. It's famous for the animé “Amanchu!”
It has a colorful shopping center in pastel blue, pink, and yellow that houses many restaurants, open-door cafés, and souvenir shops. There are also a day hot spring, public footbath, and boat rentals. It has become one of the most popular staycation destinations and is surely attracting not only tourists but also local car campers. Understandably, if you had the choice of waking up to four walls or to a spectacular ocean view, you'd probably choose the latter.
We finally made it here! -Takuya (husband)
The longest foot bath and reflexology walking path in Kanto region!
When you park your car in a large parking lot and walk along the bay, there is a 43m-long outdoor footbath called "Attamarina." It's free to public and is 100% guaranteed to relax your tired feet. This is heaven after being stuck in your car for hours and will refresh not only your feet but your whole body. ♬
Attamarina hours: 9-4 p.m. (Oct-Apr) / 9-5 p.m. (May-Sep)
When we arrived at the roadside station and found out about the footbath, we were overjoyed and went straight to it. By the way, make sure you bring your own towels to wipe your feet after. (I forgot mine in the car so I had to go back to get it.) Otherwise, there are towels available for purchase nearby. Following that, be sure to try walking on the reflexology walking path barefoot! I failed big time right on my first step. *Hides in shame*
Sit on a restaurant or terrace overlooking the ocean for lunch
Ito Marine Town has plenty of cafés and restaurants to choose from. There are terraces overlooking the ocean and stylish open-air cafés that are incredibly relaxing to eat at and feel the ocean breeze. Of course, indoor food courts and restaurants offer just as an amazing dining experience with abundant, fresh seafood bowls and other local favorites.
Fisherman's marinated rice bowl (¥2,462) at Izu Kogen Beer, Ito Marine Town (It was intense!)
Don't miss the rich Asagiri Plateau soft cream and other treats! There are so many places to eat it's so much fun to look around first and see what options are available.
Dip into a hot spring with an ocean view at Seaside Spa!
Unwind at Seaside Spa into a hot spring after lunch and stroll along the oceanfront. The ocean view and natural spring water that wells up 1000 meters from the ground will surely cure your fatigue. They have public baths, open-air baths, sauna, and private jacuzzi for couples and families.
There's a hot spring at the roadside station?! -Eri (wife)
After the bath, lie down or eat some snacks at the resting area (no extra fee). It's the perfect place to look back through the day and reflect on your experiences together. By the way, the morning bath opens at 5 a.m. and it's half price, so that's a really cheap option. My husband and I are morning bath people so we went straight there after he finished jogging and working out.
[Seaside Spa hours and admission fees] Adult (JHS student+): ¥540 morning, ¥1000 regular, ¥860 after 6pm | Children (3y+): ¥270 morning, ¥540 regular, ¥430 after 6pm **Hours and admission fees may be subject to change. Visit this website for more info.
A romantic morning in the car with a view
If you stay overnight at Ito Marine Park, you should definitely park near the ocean so the first thing that you see when you wake up is the rising sun on the ocean's horizon. Now that's romantic! The contrast of the beautiful ocean and palm trees against the morning sun will truly make you feel as if you traveled to another country.
You'll fall in love with car camping upon seeing this view in real life! Not to mention you'll be closer than ever with your special someone! When we left Ito Marine Town, we decided we wanted to go car camping in more places and experience van life to the fullest, and someday come back to this wonderful place.
Car camping summary
Going car camping as a couple, you spend more time and do more things together, and deepen your relationship in a way you can't do with the usual vacation. If you're a couple that has experience traveling together but not car camping, it'd be super great if you'd consider car camping or the "van life" as an opportunity for an offbeat dating experience or vacation, or simply to explore new hobbies together! Wait for our next car camping date ideas! -Eri-Taku Couple