8 Beaches That Prove Japan Is Asia’s Best-Kept Summer Secret
Okinawa is home to pristine white-sand beaches, average temperatures of 23 degrees and more than 100 islands over 700km of ocean, so it should come as no surprise that locals are drawn here year-round. Now, it’s time for you to check it out.
#1 Yonaha Maehama Beach, Miyako Island
Considered to be one of Japan’s best, Yonaha Maehama Beach stretches for over six uninterrupted kilometres. Located in the southwest corner of the island, it boasts clear, shallow water perfect for swimming and water sports.
Although popular, Yonaha Maehama’s size means that, in the morning or off-season, it can feel like your own private paradise.
#2 Kondoi Beach, Taketomi Island
Popular for its traditional Ryukyu architecture, lifestyle, and appeal, Taketomi Island is small – but don’t let that put you off. The turquoise waters of Kondai Beach for a dreamy holiday destination. You can head to the beach by foot or bike, or you can experience something a bit different and do a water buffalo cart ride through the village’s sandy streets.
#3 Minna Beach, Minna-jima
Minna Beach is a favourite among local beachgoers, snorkellers and scuba divers because of its crystal-clear visibility and easy accessibility. But although popular, it’s nowhere near as populated as the beaches on mainland Okinawa Honto.
The shore is lined with food stands, jet-ski rentals, and there’s even a roped-off area for swimming – a tourist’s dream.
#4 Kabira Bay, Ishigaki Island
Ishigaki Island is the biggest of the Yaeyama Islands and is home to Kabira Bay. Kabira is surrounded by tonnes of colourful, coral-laden beaches, including particularly stunning swimming spots like Sunset, Sukuji and Yonehara Beaches.
One of the island’s biggest drawcards is the Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park, where you can explore a lush oasis of emerald green water and a complex underwater eco-system on a glass-bottom boat tour.
#5 Nishihama Beach, Hateruma Island
Hateruma Island is the southernmost point of Japan. After you’ve snapped a pic with the stone monument marking this fact, head to the blindingly white sands of Nishihama Beach. It’s another popular spot for snorkelling, with the name Hateruma loosely translating to “the last reef” or “edge of the coral”.
The island is as quiet as it gets, with very little light pollution. This means the view you’ll get of the stars at night is crazy – you can even curb your homesickness and see the Southern Cross!
#6 Hatenohama Beach, Kume Island
Hatenohama is a 6km sandbar, which can be reached in three hours by boat from Tomari Fisherina. The treeless beach sits in a huge bed of shallow water, making it a great place to wade the day away.
It’s very easy to find a spot to call your own, but there’s very little shade, so don’t forget your sunscreen!
#7 Aharen Beach, Tokashiki Island
Tokashiki Island is a total gem, sharing the same Caribbean climate as the Bahamas. This is the place to be if you want to spot sea turtles and humpback whales, who call the island’s warm waters home in winter. If you don’t want to venture far from the shore, there’s heaps of shallow swimming spots to see colourful parrot fish and crimson Soldierfish.
#8 Nishibama Beach, AKA Island
Nishibama is another unbelievably picturesque location – but its advantage over all the rest is that it’s often completely empty. Bring a picnic and a Bluetooth speaker and set up for the day – no one’s usually around to ask you to keep it down!
For a great place to take it all in, head up the wooden staircase behind the beach to the observatory.
(Lead image: Nicholas Wang / Flickr)