Japan's Coasts and Islands
The Okinawan island chain stretches over 1,000 km almost to Taiwan, and is an area of outstanding natural beauty. Popular with locals but largely unexplored by western visitors, there are hundreds of beautiful beaches to be discovered. With warm seas, great snorkelling and some quaint family-run accommodation on the quieter, southerly islands, this archipelago is well worth including in your itinerary through Japan.
Situated on the Izu Peninsula, the historic city of Shimoda is a scenic three hour train journey south-west of Tokyo. See the place where America’s ‘black ships’ forced Japan to open up and trade in the mid-19th century, then head on to beautiful Shirahama beach. The rest of the peninsula is also charming, with one of Japan’s best bus rides through hills and valleys up to the old hot spring town of Shuzenji.
A 3 hour flight from Tokyo or Kyoto brings you to Okinawa. Many people have said that arriving here can feel like a different country altogether due to the distinctive local Ryukyu culture. If it’s fantastic service from a resort hotel you are looking for, then this is the place to stay. It is worth noting that due to their popularity during the peak season, the prices rise dramatically during this time, along with the amount of people. However, if you are looking for quieter islands and stunning scenery then make the 40 minute hop further south to the beaches of Ishigaki and Taketomi, where the only transport is an ox-drawn cart.
If you are searching for pristine beaches, then Ishigaki and Taketomi are the places to stay. With some superb snorkelling spots and quiet coves, along with some fantastic diving over some of the most stunning coral reefs. The island also has some great rivers for kayaking, making this the ideal location for the active type as well as a fun filled family holiday.
West of Okinawa you’ll find Zamami and Tokashiki. Perfect for keen snorkellers and divers, these peaceful islands offer up an authentic Japanese beach experience due to the rarity of foreign tourists. It is important to note that the costs are very seasonal, so please contact our Japan specialists to help you get the best price for your Japanese beach escape.