Itoshima is where Fukuokans go to get out of town, hit the beach and catch a sunset off. The peninsula has also become part of the Kyushu surf circuit, known by surfers for good breaks, consistent waves and easy distance from the big city. Amateurs and professionals alike make their way to Nogita Beach and Futamigaura Beach (and spots in between) to ride the waves.
Futamigaura Beach has become a hip spot in recent years, something like the Fukuoka version of Tokyo’s Shonan, or, as local boosters would have it, North Shore, a reference to Oahu’s surfing Mecca. Cafes and restaurants have flourished along the beach road, attracting plenty of Fukuoka daytrippers.
With its view of the Sakurai Futamigaura of Meotoiwa, the two monoliths a few dozen feet off the beach, that are joined together by a shimenawa rope, the beach makes for a scenic stroll—and great beach for even amateurs to try their hand at riding a wave, too. The surf area at Futamigaura is small, but has plenty of room to attempt getting up on a board. The beach has rental shops, as well as surf schools, making it perfect for those that are making their first attempt or need a refresher. The waves along Itoshima tend to be fairly mellow, enough fun for the more experienced but not intimidating enough to scare off those new to the sport.
At Beach Store, one of the rental and surf shops in the area, the owner, a local surfer, does a steady business hooking up the first-timers and amateurs who stop by for equipment and to hang on the terrace overlooking the beach. After hanging up the board for the day, there’s plenty to do in the area, whether trying the more forgiving stand up paddle board or waiting for the sun to set with a beer and a plate of loco moco.
It's a ten minute drive down the coast from Futamigaura to Nogita Beach. The trendy development of the more northern beach is mostly missing from Nogita, and its waves are ridden by mostly local surfers and the more experienced. The waves are not markedly more challenging here than they are at Futamigaura, and usually about as mellow… But Nogita is clearly the beach for surfers.
That’s not to say that amateurs are unwelcome. There are a handful of surf shops scattered around the area, some offering instructors who will put first-timers and amateurs through introductory lessons on the beach and then out on the water. Unlike Futamigaura, shops like HIsurf are often located a short but drivable distance from the beach, rather than right up against it. Futamigaura can often be a bit congested, especially in the busy season, but the wide beach at Nogita means there’s usually a bit more room to work with.
Amateurs and those with some experience will find what they’re looking for along Itoshima’s beaches; there are a handful of beaches beyond Futamigaura and Nogita, but usually without as much dedicated surf infrastructure. The surf season way up in Northern Kyushu is longer than the beach season, and dedicated surfers with wetsuits can be found in the waters in all but the chilliest months of the year, when there is a pilgrimage to the year-round surfing spots on the southeastern coast of the island.