Seaside resort with pristine beaches, activities for the entire family and easy access to the Kumano Kodo trails
Jutting out into the Pacific, Shirahama is a town in the southern part of the Kii Peninsula with white sand beaches, relaxing resorts, and even giant pandas. It is a gateway to the Nachisan and Kumano regions and located next to Tanabe , the start of most Kumano Kodo treks.
- The giant pandas at Adventure World
- The night sky lit up by fireworks in summer
- Large-scale art installations sculpted by mother nature herself
- Diving down to the colorful depths of Kushimoto's coral packed waters—the world's northernmost coral reef ecosystem
How to Get There
By plane or train (covered by the JR Rail Pass), there are plenty of convenient access routes to Shirahama.
Flights from Tokyo's Haneda Airport will get you to Nanki-Shirahama in just over an hour. A 15-minute bus ride takes you to Shirahama Station. Those preferring to take in more of the local scenery can take an express train from Shin-Osaka, arriving in Shirahama in about two and a half hours.
Hawaii in Honshu
With around 200 meters of white sand curving around a bay of sparkling water, Shirarahama Beach is the jewel in the crown of Japan's coastal resorts. Sister beach to Hawaii's globally famous Waikiki, the stretch of sand hosts many events along with the annual throng of summer swimmers.
The Sand Festival held in late May sees participants gather to view art created with sand. Fireworks diplays on the white sandy beach brightens up the night sky each summer.
Beach resort bathing
One of the oldest hot spring resorts in the country, the hot bubbling waters of Shirahama Onsen have been healing minds and bodies for about 1,350 years. In contrast to its mountain-based onsen cousins, Shirahama's proximity to the seashore offers bathing with a sea view. You can also explore the pirate smuggling caves of Sandanbeki , enjoy naturally framed sunsets on the coast looking out towards Engetsuto and wander the vast rock flatbed of Senjojiki .
Adventure World offers an abundance of attractions, with a safari park, zoo, aquarium and amusement park combined. While many different species can be seen wandering the grounds, it is the pandas that people travel far and wide to see. Except for the father panda Yong Ming, the rest were born and raised here.
Gateway to the Kumano Kodo
Just a 30-minute bus ride up the coast from Shirahama, Tanabe is the second largest city in Wakayama . Tanabe serves as the gateway to the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Route . Heading south from here will take would-be pilgrims on the Ohechi route, the path to Kumano Nachi Taisha and Kumano Hayatama Taisha shrines. Alternatively, the Nakahechi-route leads from Tanabe deep into the mountains, destined for the third sacred shrine of Hongu Taisha .
Sitting at the southernmost point of the peninsula, the warm current that flows into the waters of Kushimoto makes for bountiful fishing. Colonies of table coral play host to dazzling tropical fish, darting in and out of their jagged, colorful fronds. Scuba diving is popular here, along with glass-bottomed boat tours for sub-aqua viewing.
* The information on this page may be subject to change due to COVID-19.