#1. Onna – Okinawa
Onna is on the central West coast of Okinawa, and is particularly good for people who like a laid back, well-catered holiday. Onna’s combination of resort hotels, beautiful white sand beaches, stunning coastal scenery and caves certainly provide a relaxing environment. But for more active sun-seekers, there’s excellent scuba-diving, snorkelling and whale watching.
#2. Miyakojima – Okinawa
About half way between Okinawa and Taiwan, the island of Miyakojima is famous for secluded, pristine white sand beaches, such as Yonaha Maehama Beach, and wonderful snorkelling. With smaller islands off-shore, many connected by bridges, as well as capes, wetlands and sugar cane fields, Miyakojima is a true paradise island.
#3. Ishigaki – Okinawa
Closer to Taiwan than to Okinawa, Ishigaki Island is a very relaxed place. It has secluded beaches, scuba diving, snorkelling and surfing, and glass-bottom boat trips to view the amazing Shiraho Reef with its rare blue coral. Away from the beaches, one can enjoy kayaking in mangrove forests, or hiking over wonderful mountain trails.
#4. Shirahama – Shizuoka
Practically any destination in the southern isles will yield great beaches, but there are some closer to Tokyo. The white sands of the Izu Peninsula, for example, is a popular place with Tokyoites for short breaks or day trips. Shirahama beach is the best known, offering sun-seekers and surfers a wide range of conveniences and places to eat and drink when the sun goes down.
#5. Kamakura and Enoshima – Kanagawa
These are among the closest beaches to Tokyo. They aren’t white sand, but they attract huge numbers of sunbathers, swimmers and surfers. Enoshima offers many other attractions too, including a shrine, park, caves and observation tower, from which one can see Mt. Fuji on clear days. And, of course, Kamakura’s famed giant Buddha is just a short drive away.
#6. Tottori Sand Dunes – Tottori
Jokingly known as the ‘Japanese Desert,’ Tottori is certainly one of the wildest beach areas in the country. Summer temperatures are slightly cooler here on the Sea of Japan coast, so it’s popular with Japanese families. Facilities include beach huts, showers and changing rooms, but it’s the camel rides, paragliding and sandboarding that attract those seeking something different. Fans of Japanese cinema might recognise the area as the location for the 1964 adaptation of Abe Kobo’s novel ‘Woman in the Dunes.’
#7. Chichijima, Ogasawara Islands – Tokyo
Chichijima is among the sub-tropical Ogasawara Islands, around 1,000km south of Tokyo, in the Pacific Ocean. Intrepid travellers will find some of the most remote white sand beaches and crystal clear seas anywhere, perfect for swimming and snorkelling. However, with no airport, reaching this paradise requires a ferry journey of 25 hours from Tokyo!
Yes, Japan really does have some wonderful beaches, many with unique marine life and activities, though dangerous marine creatures, such as jellyfish, or strong currents may make swimming prohibited in some places. Nudity is not allowed in all but a very few locations, along with alcohol consumption, whilst some resort beaches may also prohibit exposed tattoos. Most importantly, don’t forget to pack a good sun-screen lotion!