Being a long, thin island, as well as many surrounding islands, Japan has perhaps the most beaches of any country in the world. Bordered by the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Sea of Japan and East China Sea on the other, there is a wide variety of the types of beaches where you can find that perfect place for your ideal holiday. There are numerous small islands surrounding Japan, beaches are literally everywhere.

From the more popular climate of Okinawa on the southern end to the northernmost end of the country you will find such a wide range of beaches in Japan that you will want to visit them all. The time of year you visit will also determine which beaches you will find the most preferable. Many Japanese beaches have restrictions such as no noise after sunset and no alcohol, which makes them even more ideal for families or anyone wanting a more peaceful time at the water.

With lifeguards, rental shops and many other amenities at most of the beaches, you can find everything you need to make your stay the best ever. Some strong undercurrents and poisonous species such as jellyfish can make swimming in some areas dangerous, but if you are mindful of your surroundings you will be perfectly safe. Below is listed some of the favorite Japanese beaches that you will absolutely love.

1. Okinawa Island

best beaches in Japan

Flickr Credit: Eiji Anzai

Okinawa Island is one of the three main island groups of the Okinawa Prefecture (also known as the Ryukyu Islands), which is located at the southernmost point of Japan. The Prefecture is made up of dozens of small mostly uninhabited islands. This island is world famous for its splendid subtropical weather, crystal clear turquoise water and beautiful white sandy beaches. Some of the most beautiful coral reefs you will ever see abound here, along with all of the magnificent marine life that goes right along with it, making scuba diving and snorkeling the most popular activities.

There are many beaches on Okinawa Island and all of them are covered in the soft, sugary white sand that is amazing to sunbathe and play in. Some of the beaches are owned by resorts, so you can stay in a hotel with the beach right outside your bungalow. Others are more secluded where you can have a quieter place to enjoy the sun, sand and surf. There are many shops where you can rent equipment if you want to paddle board, kayak or any of the many water sports there are. Or hire some of the experts that will take you to some of the best diving you have ever experienced. You could even rent your own boat or get a guide to explore some of the nearby islands. You will definitely want to soak in as much of the Okinawan culture and cuisine as you can while here. Goya chanpuru and soba noodles are just two of the things you will want to try. There is nothing else like it!

2. Miyako Island

best beaches in Japan

Flickr Credit: Jean-Claude Maillard

Miyako Island is also a part of the Okinawa Prefecture. It is the fourth largest island of the Prefecture, and also boasts of having the best beaches in Japan. The beautiful coral reefs are full of colorful marine life and are an ideal place to snorkel. Further out in the water you will find some of the best diving around. The island is generally gorgeous green rolling hills with vast sugar cane fields. There are few towns on the island, some of which have some great restaurants and bars where you can enjoy some night life after a day lounging on the magnificent beach.

The warm, white sand is so inviting and comfortable, and with the great subtropical climate you can visit any time of the year. Maehama Beach, or Yonaha-Maehama Beach, is rated by most people as the best beach in Japan. This pristine white-sand beach stretches for over 7km along the southwestern coastline of the island. There are full facilities here as well as food and drink vendors right on the beach. There is also a rental shop where you can get the equipment you need for enjoying a wide variety of water sports. Lounging on the beach with your favorite drink in hand while watching a spectacular sunset is certainly one of the best ways to spend an evening. Yoshino Beach, or Yoshino Kaigan, is best known as a popular place for snorkelers.

An amazing maze of coral reef is right off the water’s edge that is full of a wide range of marine life. You will also have great schools of fish that are known to swim right around you legs as you wade in the warm water. You will really enjoy that. Sunayama Beach is one of those Japanese beaches that is loved for the beauty of the surroundings. With rugged rock formations and sand dunes, it is as much fun to explore the area as it is to play in the water and sand. These are just a few of the beaches on Miyako Island that you will find to be the absolute best beaches in Japan as well as the world.

3. Kume Island

best beaches in Japan

Flickr Credit: Lie T

Kume Island, also known as Kumejima, is one of the lesser developed islands where you are more able to find that perfect beach that is more secluded and quiet. It is one of the best islands to get a great sampling of the Okinawan culture and have a truly relaxing holiday. Like all of the area, the most popular activities are scuba diving and snorkeling. The entire island is small enough that you could explore the interior in one day, giving you an alternative to spending your entire stay on one of the fine beaches.

The Uegusuku Castle Ruins sits on the highest peak of the island, and is an amazing place to visit, with spectacular views of the entire island. Hatenohama Beach is perhaps the most well known beach on this island. It is actually a sand bar that is surrounded by water and is close to 7km long. This makes for some ideal snorkeling and swimming. Ara Beach is a more secluded beach that offers a quiet place to enjoy the ocean. It does have a beautiful coral reef that provides some great snorkeling.

Eef Beach is very near the main tourist center of the island, but manages to maintain that quiet, more secluded atmosphere. It has some facilities available, and is close enough to the restaurants, hotels and shops that you have the best of both worlds. Shinri Beach is a beautiful beach on the western side of the island. It is a magnificent beach that sits on a rocky inlet. During low tide it drains almost completely which creates tidal pools where you can find some amazing little sea creatures. Kids especially love exploring these, while the adults enjoy the spectacular sunset.

Related: Best Beaches in Guatemala

4. Ishigaki Island

best beaches in Japan

Flickr Credit: Melqart

Ishigaki Island is the main island of the Yaeyama Island group, and is the central hub for transportation and commerce in the region. This makes it easy to fly into as well finding all of the stores, restaurants, bars and shops you need to make your stay that much more comfortable. The many beaches on this island are extremely nice, with a wide variety to choose from, some with the typical white sand and others that are rocky with finely crushed coral.

Kabira Bay is thought by most to be the prettiest place on the entire island to visit, and there are glass bottomed boats that you can ride on to get an amazing view of the sea life that is here without getting wet. For those looking to do some diving, near Kabira Bay is Manta Scramble which is famous for the large number of manta rays that live here. The interior of the island has great hiking trails that can lead you through jungle areas or along rivers that are also open to kayaking, which is a great experience.

Sukuji Beach is also along Kabira Bay and is considered one of the best Japanese beaches as well. Large sections are netted off to help protect those enjoying the water from the dangerous habu jellyfish, so you can swim and play in safety. As with so many of the beaches, snorkeling and diving are fantastic here, with several dive shops that can take you out to some of the best sites. Yonehara Beach and Sunset Beach are two more beaches that are wonderful to spend time at. Yonehara is one that is covered is beautiful crushed white coral. All of the beaches of Ishigaki Island are perfect places to spend your holiday.

5. Amami Oshima

best beaches in Japan

Flickr Credit: Kota Kibuse

Amami Oshima is a spectacular island with many beaches covered in the famous white sand. It is generally less crowded than neighboring Okinawa making for a more relaxed vacation. For even more seclusion, Kakeromajima Island is just a short ferry ride or kayak trip away. You could easily find a place on either island where you can totally escape the world for a while. Camping out at one of these beaches can be the best way to experience Japanese beach life at its finest for those that are more adventurous.

Yadoribama Beach is one of the beaches that has a campground for all to enjoy, although there is also a nice hotel nearby for those wanting more creature comforts. Bring your snorkeling gear, kayaks, paddle boards or whatever equipment you want to use in these beautiful blue water. Sakibaru Beach is one of the quieter beaches the island is known for. With no buses or other public transportation going to this beach, fewer people can access it, making it ideal for those that can. Ohama Beach is one of the closest beaches to Amami City.

This makes it ideal to spend the day snorkeling along the fantastic coral reef and sunbathing in the warm white sand and then head into town to enjoy some great shopping and night life. Tomori Beach is another beach with easy access, and is one of those perfect beaches you might see featured on a postcard. Pristine white sand, crystal clear warm water and amazing marine life all combine to make this an ideal spot.

Play in the water all day, then enjoy a fantastic sunset while lounging in the sand. For some great diving, Kurasaki Beach is where you will want to head. There is a complete dive center near the beach where you can rent your equipment and get guides to take you out to some of the best dive sites.

6. Odaiba

best beaches in Japan

Flickr Credit: Dan

If you are staying in or around Tokyo and want to get out on the ocean, there are many options available to you. Odaiba is the most convenient, being near the Decks shopping mall. It is a man-made beach that is popular with locals and tourists alike for getting away and sunbathing or playing beach volleyball. It is an ideal spot to watch a spectacular sunset, and then to see Rainbow Bridge and the city’s skyscrapers lit up at night is extremely amazing. And then you are close to the city so you can enjoy shopping, fine dining and a terrific night life.

If you like to surf, the Boso Peninsula is the place to go. Of all the beaches in Japan, this is perhaps the most popular for the surfing crowd, and you can rent boards and any other equipment you need right on the beach. The Izu Peninsula is known to have the best snorkeling in the immediate vicinity of the city and has many more beaches within a relatively short distance. Also near Tokyo is the Shonan Coast and Miura Peninsula, both of which are very popular with locals and tourists alike, with fantastic snorkeling opportunities and beaches that are second to none, while not having to venture too far away from the city.

There are so many islands and peninsulas that have a myriad of beaches in Japan that you could spend many days, or even years, of holidays in this amazing country and not see them all. No matter what type of beach you find to be ideal for you, you are sure to find it here. From big cities to isolated beaches, there is something for everyone here.

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Justin Carmack
Justin is a dive master and world traveler on a mission to dive and document the top 100 dive sites in the world. In doing this he hopes to bring love for the marine environment to the world!
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