Best Beaches and Islands in Japan
Imagine yourself on a calm stretch of sand on the remote island or a nearby beach along the coast of Tokyo, or exploring the undiscovered side of Japan. There are enough options out there to suit every type of traveler. Why not start planning your sandy, adventurous getaway now and scroll down to see our recommend beaches and islands in Japan by prefectures.
Okinawa is home to more than 160 different islands. Out of the many islands, Miyako and Ishigaki Island are far most popular holiday destinations with both local and international guests because of its easy accessibility using direct plane from Osaka and Tokyo. Not just its beguiling beaches with beautiful gradations of blue water with pristine white sands, but travellers enjoy leisurely island time with delicious Okinawan gourmet food during their stay.
While the beaches are open year round, they are best enjoyed from April to November when the air temperature consistently tops 25 degrees and the water is very warm.
Ishigaki Island (top) Miyako Island (bottom)
Nagasaki prefecture has the most number of islands. The natural beauty on the island includes but is not limited to beaches and breathtaking natural scenery but also unique history featuring what were once hidden Christian communities.
Out of the many, Fukue is a hub of historical charm, natural scenery and delicious local food, just off the coast of Nagasaki in Southern Japan. Of the Goto Islands, Fukue Island is the largest and most populated followed by Nakadori. Yet, in spite of being the largest, Fukue Island is still fairly small and mostly wild and hilly, while the secluded island of Ikitsuki offers some of Japan’s most rugged coastal escarpment.
On the other, Nagasaki offers a post-apocalyptic island, Hashima Island, more familiary known as Gunkanjima (Battleship Island) where once served as a coal mining until 1974. Due to damage caused by a typhoon,currently it is not possible to land on Gunkanjima. The situation is expected to normalize on March 1, 2020. Until then, the island can be viewed on boat tours from the water. For more information, check its official webpage here.
Despite being few hundred kilometers away from Kagoshima prefecture and much closer to Okinawa, there are two islands that belong to Kagoshima with some Okinawa cultural influence here and there.
First island is the Yoron Island which has a population of about 6,000 people, and in this small island, residents enjoy living in the tropical paradise.
The other being Amami Oshima Island where the climate is much similar to Okinawa with white beaches, beautiful coral reefs, mangroves and crystal-clear sea making it perfect for snorkeling, scuba-diving and kayaking.
Okinawan guardian lion, “Shisa” on the roof of the house with its culture still imposed on Yoron Island (top right)
From heart shaped tidal pool to beaches to mangroves, Amami Oshima Island is one of Japan's top island getaways.
Located across Hakata Bay in Fukuoka prefecture, this Shikanoshima Island is a scenic island that offers great view of the coastline making it a popular destination for cyclists. As the island is at the tip of the sandbar connected to Hakata Bay, visitors can access from the land as well as from the sea.
Oki is made up of 4 inhabited islands and 180 smaller uninhabited islands and rocky reefs (satellite rock clusters) located in the Sea of Japan roughly 50km north of Shimane peninsula and north-west of the main island (Honshu). The three inhabited islands, closest to mainland Japan form a circular shape in order from Nishinoshima Island, Nakanoshima Island, and Chiburijima Island. These islands are collectively known as Dozen, while the largest inhabited island is called Dogo Island. All of these islands have a mesmerizing and dynamic beautiful natural scenery which goes far beyond expectations.
When one mentions Hiroshima, first thing comes to mind would be atomic bombing. Its shadows are haunting reminder of the brutality that occurred in 1945. However, Hiroshima is a destination in its own right making a great base for exploring the Seto Inland Sea, containing more than 350 islands with Shinto shrines, beautiful Japanese landscapes and delicious food and drinks. From Osaki-Shimojima Island where the finest oranges and lemons in Japan are made, to rabbit island on Okunoshima to scenic cycling journey to Mukaishima Island and Ikuchijima Island or to spend a more relaxing time at Sensuijima Island, there are enough destinations to choose from.
The only one traversable by foot or bicycle from Honshu (main land) and Shikoku, and also a popular destination for cycling is the Shimanami Kaido. This is a 60km long toll road that connects Japan’s main island (Honshu) and Shikoku passing over six small islands in the Seto Inland Sea. There are many places to pull over the bicycle on this road trip for an amazing adventure.
Setouchi Islands, proximity to Kagawa prefecture are made up of people, cats, olives and contemporary art. Devoting to art, major Setouchi art islands, Naoshima, Teshima and Shodoshima are most easily accessible from Takamatsu port in Kagawa prefecture. These islands are particularly known for their thriving local art with art festivals showcasing their works from both Japanese and international artists. These events are a must-see for art fans.
“Red Pumpkin” ©Yayoi Kusama,2006 Naoshima Miyanoura Port Square
Best experienced in the summertime when the weather is stable with all the shops open, this seaside resort town, Ushimado in Okayama prefecture has a perfect spot for couples. The Kuroshima Venus Road, a sandbar that appears daily at low tide is popular to not just couples but also to nature lovers. It connects three small islands off of the coast of the Ushimado district in Setouchi City and time spent on the islands and sandbars can definitely make you relax and have a fulfilling natural experience.
Best accessed by car for road trip, Awaji Island is the largest island in the Seto Inland Sea after Shikoku located in Hyogo Prefecture.The island is tucked between Kobe and Naruto (Shikoku Island), connected with two suspension bridges, the Naruto Ohashi and the Akashi Kaikyo Ohashi bridges. History tells that this was the first island to be formed for Japan offering beautiful nature, historic culture, good food, and hotsprings.
Chikubu Island (Chikubushima) is a mini island only 2 kilometers in circumference lying in the northern part of Lake Biwa in Shiga prefecture. The island has a shrine that is more than 1500 years old and in recent years, it has become popular as “power spots”, a spiritual place said to have a mysterious power where one can gain energy and luck. The island itself is very hilly but the hike in the forested hills to the temples and shrines are worth the walk.
Tomogashima Island is the collective name for the following islands; Jinoshima, Torajima, Kamijima, and Okinoshima. Out of the 4 islands, Okinoshima are popular with fortress ruins still remaining to commemorate its past as a military stronghold. These islands are situated along the coast of Wakayama prefecture, and history tells that these islands was a great hideaway for pirates and a secret military base during the World War II. All four islands are now an ideal spot for not just to see the reminiscent of the Fortress era but also to enjoy hiking and camping.
Set aside time for a visit to an island of museum where the modern pearl cultivation began, located in the Bay of Toba in Mie prefecture. The Mikimoto Pearl Island is a museum about Kokichi Mikimoto who was a pioneer of the modern pearl cultivation presenting examples of the pearl and the jewelry made with them.
Sado Island is a great little island retreat with beach inlands to rich gold mining history to hot spring (onsen).
Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka Prefecture has a number of beaches with pure white sand and crystal clear water.Only about 30 minutes by high speed boat ride from Atami Port,
Hatsushima Island offers a beach resort where visitors can relax and enjoy many marine activities.
On the southern part of the peninsula, Kisami Ohama Beach offers clear waters and white sand popular with families and surfers. However, Hirizo Beach on the southernmost tips of the peninsula is a must to go beach out of the many in the area with the most green blue water with tropical fishes.
One of the biggest surprises that catch traveler’s attention is the fact that Tokyo includes a cluster of 11 remote islands. Of which, from its name, Izu Oshima Island may seem like it belongs to Izu in Shizuoka prefecture, but from its long history of who the owner is, eventually the island became under the administration of Tokyo metropolis.
Located south of Tokyo, there is an island, Kozushima, which has a taste of everything like the beauties of the mountain and the sea, hot springs (onsen) to relax, and good seafood to satisfy the appetite.
While the other island, Niijima Island also located south of Tokyo is a paradise for surfers, dives and natural lovers.
On the west of the coastal town Kamakura in Kanagawa prefecture, the small island, Enoshima offers a little bit of everything, including shrines, Mt. Fuji, parks and one of the closest beaches to Tokyo.
Pine clad islands of Matsushima, located in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture is one of the easy-to-access touristic spots in the prefecture. Covered with pines, or Matsu in Japanese where the island got its name from, this island is known as one of the Three Most Scenic Views(日本三景) in Japan. It is also famous for the delicious oysters farmed in the bay and for its historically important temples like Zuiganji temples.