Besides being an ideal destination for those who want to dive into the culture, history, and artisanal crafts, Japan has some of the best beaches in the world. There are many places to go snorkeling, diving, play watersports or just chill out on the beach. Why not combine your trip to Japan with an extension in one of the country’s beach destinations? Here is a list of 15 awesome beaches in different parts of Japan with an average of 4.5 stars on Google reviews!
Japan as a Beach Destination
Thailand, Bali, and the Maldives might be some of Asia’s most famous beach destinations, they also tend to get crowded. And if you are in Japan anyway for discovering the culture and history, if you like the beach, it is a great idea to extend your trip a little bit. Beaches in Japan are generally less crowded, clean, and safe if you swim in guarded areas.
There aren’t many ‘drunk antics’ either as you see in some European and American resort areas, so you can peacefully enjoy your time on the beach. Are you looking for exciting nightlife? Then Japanese beach destinations might not be for you. There are usually a few local restaurants nearby, but there are nearly no dedicated nightlife spots for beach tourists. For great nightlife in Japan, it is best to stick to large cities like Tokyo and Osaka.
Beach High Season
The high season for beaches in Japan is in July and August. This means that during these months, popular beaches will be moderately crowded. Still, it won’t be too crowded, as most Japanese people aren’t avid beachgoers. Many people don’t like to tan, they don’t like the heat, and quite a few can’t swim. During the high season, popular beach destinations like Kamakura near Tokyo and Onjuku in Chiba will erect temporary restaurants and bars on the beach. Outside of the high season, there are usually no such facilities. There are usually (free) year-round showers on the most popular beaches. Parking might get difficult, so arrive early during the high season.
As for swimwear, the Japanese usually prefer to wear all-covering rash guards when they swim. This is to protect themselves from the sun, but also to protect their skin from corals or stones. Marine shoes are also always a good idea to wear. Some ladies will wear a bikini only, but this is quite rare. It is, however, not a problem to wear a bikini in Japan as religion doesn’t forbid this. If there’s a lifeguard on duty, you have to follow their instructions. In some areas, you are only allowed to swim in cordoned-off areas.
Best Beaches in the Tokyo Region
Now let’s have a look at the best beach destinations on Japan’s main island, Honshu. Some of these can be done as day trips from Tokyo or Kyoto, but most of them warrant a stay of at least a night or 2. The numbers behind the name of the beach correspond with the numbers on the area map below.
Ichinomiya Beach (1): ok, this Chiba beach got ‘only’ 4 stars on Google, but it’s a great destination for surfers. While many Japanese families like to come here for clam digging and enjoying the beach, for swimmers we recommend the beaches in Izu.
Chigasaki Park Headland Beach (2): not far from Kamakura, but less crowded than Kamakura’s Yuigahama beach. While Yuigahama is great for experienced surfers, Headland Beach is better for beginners and swimmers. The nice thing is that a visit to this beach can be combined with a trip to the historic capital Kamakura.
Shirahama Beach (3): this is the foreign expat community’s favorite beach for sunbathing and swimming. It is located on the eastern side of the Izu Peninsula. With its white sands, green environment, and clear blue water, it ticks all the boxes for a great beach getaway. Nearby Sotoura Beach is also a great chill spot.
Futo Coast (4): on the other side of the Izu Peninsula is the Futo Coast, with amazing natural scenery. It is a lot more off the beaten path than Shirahama. Little caves and rocks in the water provide fun for those who like to snorkel. Marine shoes are a must on this beach, as the floor is rough here.
Tomari Beach (5): situated on Shikinejima, one of the Izu islands, this crescent-shaped beach is nicely sheltered from the wind. It is beautiful for snorkeling and doesn’t get too crowded.
Best Beaches in Central Japan and Kyushu
Kotohiki Beach (6): the environment here is scenic, and if the sand is dry enough you might get lucky and hear the singing sand.
Shirarahama Beach (7): by far the best beach in its environment. This white sand beach is very large and there are many facilities such as showers and small shops.
Shimoaso Beach (8): this Kyushu beach is a bit remote, but if you are staying in Oita it is very much worth a day trip. But the best way to enjoy this beach is by staying overnight in a cabin so you can truly relax.
Aoshima Beach (9): there’s a palmtree-lined boulevard, but this beach’ main attraction is the ‘devil’s washboard‘. This rare natural formation is very interesting to see from up close. It’s a good beach for surfing, and there are many small cafes around to enjoy the natural surroundings.
Sakibaru Beach (10): this beautiful beach is located on Amami Oshima, one of the islands located south of Kyushu. In spite of its remote location, there are facilities and the water is extremely clear.
Best Beaches in Okinawa
Okinawa gets its own section because it has the most incredible beaches being a subtropical island group far down south. The archipelago wasn’t always part of Japan, as it used to be its own kingdom called the Ryukyu kingdom until 1879. This is also why the culture is quite different from Japan’s main island, although you can still expect Japanese cleanliness and service.
Nirai Beach (11): this beach’ atmosphere reminds us a bit of Southern Europe. There are organized water activities and various rentals. Its best-kept secret is the back-area where there are many intact soft corals. Proceed with caution; don’t touch the corals and use rash guards, no sunscreen.
Diamond Beach (12): a large beach with a small peninsula jutting out at sea that has great views of the environment. It is a great place for snorkeling, if you go around 200m in, you will see many corals and fish. The sea is a bit deeper here than in most snorkeling-friendly areas, so it is a good idea to wear a lifevest.
Zanehama Beach (13): you can park on the nearby official parking lot for 100 yen per hour, and walk 300m to this secluded beach. There are spots with natural shade, and the beach has direct access to the popular snorkeling area Maeda Flats.
Kondoi Beach (14): Taketomi Island is one of Japan’s southernmost islands and is surrounded by bright blue water. This is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Bring sunglasses, the light here is bright! If you come at the right time, you can walk/swim to little ‘island’ sandbanks.
Hoshizuna Beach (15): this beach on Iriomote is named after the shape of much of its sand, which looks like stars. The best part about this beach is that there’s plenty of space and snorkeling is amazing in these clear waters. You can let yourself be taken by the current for a leisurely swim.
Your Japan Tour
As seasoned Japan experts, we create perfect Japan package tours including great beach destinations. Check out our group tours and private tours, or contact us to start planning your unforgettable holiday to this fascinating country full of once-in-a-lifetime experiences, culture, history, nature, and delicious food!