If you can tear yourself away from the bright lights, bustling streets and entourage of Michelin-starred restaurants in Tokyo, in wait there lies a completely different side to Japan. Rarely associated with pristine beaches and an underwater world of rich marine life, Japan is in fact home to some of the most spectacular beaches in the world. If you’re looking to ditch the guide book and take the road less traveled, check out these beaches.
The Beaches of Miyako Island
Located 300km south of Okinawa, Miyako is the fourth largest of the prefecture islands. With sandy white beaches that’ll blind those without sunglasses and aqua blue waters that wouldn’t be out of place in the Maldives, it’s hard to believe you’re in Japan. Widely acclaimed to have the best beaches in the country, Miyako is popular among divers and snorkelers in search of vibrant coral reefs and colorful marine life. There are several dive centers located on the island, all offering an array of dive qualifications and refresher courses. A far cry from the luxury hotels in Tokyo, the coastal accommodation is popular with honeymooners, ranging from 2*- 4* offerings that overlook the far-reaching ocean. Being so far south, temperatures here are sub-tropical and average at around 22c. Asides from getting their feet wet, visitors can enjoy the Tropical Botanical Garden or take in the views from the Ikema and Kurima bridges. Direct flights from Tokyo are available to the island’s sole hub, Miyako Airport.
If you’re looking to escape the pace of the city, Zaimokuza Beach is located around an hour from Tokyo’s center. On the surface, it’s not the prettiest of beaches, but what it lacks in white sand it more than makes up for in fantastic views. It’s a favorite spot among photographers who are looking to capture the majestic Mount Fuji at its best. As the sun sets beyond the horseshoe-shaped cove, Enoshima Island, and the vastly strewn boats hugging the coastline, the sky erupts into a thousand shades of purple, pink and orange. The beach is suitable for swimming, however, it is mostly visited by surfers and windsurfers. There are several guest houses located around the beach as well as cafes, clubs and bars. Couple your visit with a trip to Komyoji Temple.
Chichijima, Ogasawara Islands
For those of you who are really looking to get off the grid, a trip to this spectacular set of islands 1,000km south of mainland Japan is the ultimate getaway. The main island, Chichijima, is covered in tropical forest, rocky cliffs and home to the classic laid-back island vibe. It’s also where you’ll find most of the islands’ accommodation. Bottlenose dolphins and spinner dolphins can be seen off-shore all year round, whilst between July and September, sperm whales are frequent visitors to the coast. English-speaking dolphin spotting tours can be arranged, as well as the opportunity to swim with them. It goes without saying that the beaches here are picture perfect.
Ian Garstang is a travel writer and marketing specialist working in the luxury travel market. Ian is the editor at Luxury-Travels.net and has worked with such brands as GHM Hotels, Four Seasons and Aman. Ian was name Hotel Club’s ‘Bali Expert’ and nominated in the top 20 luxury travel bloggers on USA Today. Ian has written for various websites including A Luxury Travel Blog, Luxury Asia News and Travelo Café. Follow his Luxe Asia Travel News on Twitter.