beaches in Japan

BEST BEACHES IN JAPAN

Beautiful beaches don’t normally spring to mind when you think of Japan. Many people are surprised to learn that Japan is home to some truly stunning beaches. In fact, the beaches in Japan are well known for having sandy white shores and sparkling clear waters.

Northern Beaches in Japan

Yunokawa, Hakodate, Japan

Most travelers to Yunokawa go for its avid onsen (hot spring) culture, but most people don’t think of this area as a beach town. If you’re looking for an idyllic beach vacation, check out some of the stunning deserted beaches around town. If you’re headed there during the winter months, nothing beats the experience of soaking in an open air hot spring while gazing at a snow-covered beach. Either way, you’re bound to have a delightfully quiet vacation as Yunokawa is mostly ignored by tourists during the winter as vacationers head to nearby Sapporo for skiing.

Southernmost Beaches of Japan

OKINAWA ISLANDS

The Okinawa Islands is comprised of a group of two dozen islands around the main island of Okinawa Honto. They are are one of three major island groups making up Okinawa prefecture.  Miyako and Yaeyama Islands, which a located further south, are the other two.

Okinawa Island is the former center of the Ryukyu Kingdom, and it is home to more than half of the prefecture’s population. It also houses Naha, the capital city of Okinawa, as well as US military bases. It is the prefecture’s busiest and most developed island. The other islands in Okinawa Shoto are much smaller than the main island. Many fo them are not inhabited, while others, such as Kume Island and the Kerama Islands, offer a more traditional lifestyle with stunning beaches and terrific diving and snorkeling opportunities.

Known in Japanese as the Nansei Islands and as the Ryukyu Arc, Ryukyu Islands are an island chain stretching southwest from Kyushu to Taiwan. The islands have a subtropical climate with mild winters and hot summers.

The Ryukyu Islands is comprised of over 150 islands and they are a popular destination for sun lovers. Theys are home to a huge variety of beautiful sandy beaches that are perfect for swimming and snorkeling. Large beach resorts can be found along private and public beaches, and it’s easy to find a beach party or beach barbecue or two when combing these sandy shores. The islands include:

  • Okinawa Island (Okinawa-hont?)
  • Aguni
  • Ie
  • Iheya
  • Ikei
  • Izena
  • Kudaka
  • Kumejimi
  • Kerama Islands — a cluster of small coral islands between Kume and Okinawa, including Akajima, Taokashiki, and Zamami
  • Akajima — popular holiday spot in the Kerama Islands
  • Tokashiki — snorkeling and diving oasis, the largest island of Kerama
  • Zam0mi — popular among snorkelers and divers, with several deserted islands within 10 mins by taxi boat.
  • Minna
  • Tonaki
  • Tsuken

OKINAWA BEACHES (RYUKYU ISLANDS)

BEACH REGION: IRABU, MIYAKOJIMA

Panari Beach, Okinawa, Japan (Photo by Rurinoshima)
Panari Beach, Okinawa, Japan (Photo by Rurinoshima)

PANARI BEACH

Panari Beach is approximately 20 minutes from Sarahama Port by car. The beaches in this area have a coral reef located just off the shore, so please exercise caution when you’re swimming. On the plus side, this is the perfect place to snorkel or go scuba diving, as many tropical fish can be found in the warm waters. Bring your own snorkeling gear. There are no nearby rental shops.

Japan_Okinawa Islands_Map
Japan_Okinawa Islands_Map

Karama Islands, Akajima, Okinawa, Japan

Foreign travelers are a rare sight on the islet of Akajima of Okinawa’s Kerama Islands, although the islet is a popular option for Japanese day-trippers during the months of summer.

If a remote and isolated beach vacation is what you’re seeking, you’ll find bliss on Akajima even during the busiest months. The beaches are mostly empty and they’re completely spotless, although you can generally expect a handful of locals and a few surfers catching some waves.

There is a charming Ryakyuan heritage home that is open to viewing further inland. Lucky travelers might even have the opportunity to learn the shamisen while you sip on cold beer with a local acquaintance.

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