While many onsen located in the Kumano area offer views of lush green mountains, the centuries-old Shirahama Onsen area provides its bathers something entirely different — a Pacific Ocean panorama. Throughout the hot spring resort's 1300-year history, those soaking in its outdoor rock baths have enjoyed views of the unusual jagged rock formations shaped by the sea.
The Shirahama Onsen area is located a 10-minute bus ride from Nanki-Shirahama Airport, making it ideal for those taking the hour-long flight into the area from Tokyo's Haneda Airport.
It is also convenient for those coming by Express train from Shin-Osaka (2.5 hours), as a ten-minute bus ride from the station will take you to the Shirahama Bus Center stop, where the beach is located.
Shirahama Onsen is ranked alongside famous onsen resorts in Kobe and Matsuyama as one of Japan's oldest
The flat rock formation of Senjojiki means 1000 tatami mats in reference to the vast plateau's size and shape
While there are many enjoyable onsen in the area, Saki-no-Yu's hot waters are one of the most popular. The naturally heated outdoor rock pools, known as rotenburo, face the big blue of the Pacific and bathers can feel the salty spray of the ocean as waves crash onto the rocks.
Saki-no-Yu's legend can be traced back centuries as it was logged in one of Japan's oldest historical texts and said to have been frequented by an emperor.
Centuries of aggressive sea erosion has sculpted otherworldly formations in the area surrounding Shirahama Onsen. The rock cliffs and caves of Sandanbeki used to be a hangout for pirates and while the seafaring scoundrels may have left, the rocky remains still remain.
Engetsuto Island is a naturally forged archway that frames the sun as it sets, so get your camera ready.
The striking geology of the area is perfect for modern day explorers, however, for those looking to soak in the sun's rays, the 600 plus meters of white sand and dazzling clear water that make up Shirara Beach is the ideal location. Voted one of the best beaches in the country, Shirara Beach is very popular with the Japanese too.
Despite being a choice destination for beach goers in the Kansai area, Shirara Beach remains an oasis. For a day in the sand and surf, punctuated by a soak in the onsen hot spring, while eating the choice bounty of the Pacific Ocean, Shirahama-onsen Hot Spring and Shirara-hama Beach can't be beat.