5 Best Japanese Islands To Visit This 2024

5 Best Japanese Islands To Visit This 2024

Dreaming of tropical beaches, open-air onsens and epic sunrises? Well, get ready to turn dreams into reality across some of the best Japanese islands!

I know, I know – when most people plan a trip to the Land of the Rising Sun they stick to the well-trodden Tokyo-Kyoto-Fuji route. And don’t get me wrong, those places will blow your mind with neon-lit cities, tranquil temples, and picture-perfect volcanoes.

If you crave going beyond the guidebook highlights, let me be your guide to 5 Japanese islands you absolutely must visit in 2024. And as a bonus, I’ll also share some useful Japanese phrases to help you explore ala local.

Top Japanese Islands To Visit


Ishigaki island is like a real paradise. 3 hours from Tokyo by direct flight. And you also enjoy island hopping from Ishigaki. It is highly recommended you to visit there! #japantrip2023 #japantravelguide #japantraveltips #takayamajapan #japanhiddengem #wisatajepang

♬ Uchiagehanabi (DAOKO Solo ver.) – DAOKO

Ishigaki Island

Located among the lush Yaeyama Islands, Ishigaki is one of Japan’s top tropical getaways, with palm trees swaying over white sand beaches that rival those Caribbean screensavers you’ve been staring at on your computer.

But before you slather on the SPF and charge into the surf, make a beeline for Ishigaki’s crown jewel – Kabira Bay. The underwater scenery in that spot boasts a one-of-a-kind charm, so swimming and diving are forbidden. The good news is that you can take a glass-bottomed boat tour to ogle at the bay’s psychedelic corals, angel fish, and sea turtles in comfort.

If you must dive in, head over to the equally gorgeous Shiraho Reef, where you can snorkel alongside sea turtles and rays without worrying about breaking ecological laws. Adrenaline junkies should also book a spot on one of the manta ray snorkeling adventures – trust me, coming face-to-face with those alien-like gentle giants will be a highlight of your life!

When you’ve tired yourself out beach-hopping, grab a bubbly Orion beer in the trendy cafes and bars of Ishigaki City. And if you brought your sea legs, sign up for a mangrove kayaking tour along the island’s lush rivers – it’ll be you, a kayak, and Jurassic Park worthy scenery!

Amami Oshima Island

Craving some Vitamin T – tropical islands? Let’s venture a bit further south to Amami Oshima, part of the steamy, subtropical Kagoshima prefecture.

Now I know what you’re thinking, this far south, it’s gotta be a tourist trap like Okinawa, right? Wrong! Amami Oshima flies blissfully under the radar, which means her pearly white beaches are all yours for lounging. We’re talking smooth sands, bathtub-warm waters, and world-class snorkeling over coral reefs so psychedelic they’ll blow your mind.

When you get your fill of beach-bumming, break out the mangrove kayaks and journey into Jurassic territory – we’re talking lush forests and brackish rivers straight out of dinosaur times. The entire island is a UNESCO site, so you know nature is out of this world!

Don’t inhale your Instagrammable acai bowl too fast, because you’ll want to save room for Amami Oshima’s crazy delicious soul food. We’re talking kusaya (くさや), a local delicacy of salted and fermented fish that tastes WAY better than it sounds. Wash it down with awamori, distilled rice liquor packing a punch, and you’ll be ready for more adventure.

Iriomote Island

Ninety percent of this Yaeyama Island jewel is protected ancient jungle and mangrove forest – we’re talking adventures into lands before time. Work those quads as you trek through Jurassic valleys to thundering waterfalls on hidden mountain trails. Then cool off by drifting downriver in a kayak, surrounded by vines and teeming wildlife.

And keep your eyes peeled, because you may just spot the Iriomote Yamaneko – a critically endangered and super elusive wildcat found only on this island. Don’t worry, city slickers, it only comes out at night!

When you need a break from channeling your inner Lara Croft, hit up Manta Way for world-class snorkeling alongside graceful manta rays dancing in the blue. Or try your hand at reef fishing – grill up your catch over an open fire on a secluded beach while fireflies glitter and jungle birds cry into the night.

Okinawa Island

Craving a tropical getaway without leaving Japan? Then set your sights on Okinawa, the gorgeous “Hawaii of Japan” way down south! We’re talking endless sunshine, dazzling white sand beaches, coral reefs teeming with marine life – the ultimate island vacation spot!

Once home to the independent Ryukyu Kingdom, Okinawa’s culture also evolved into its own unique fusion. Traces of this can be found across heritage sites like the breathtaking Shuri Castle ruins. Beyond the history, don’t miss trying traditional Okinawan cuisines with Asian influences too – think tasty tropical fruits, seafood, and meat dishes distinct from mainland Japan.


Escape to a beach paradise and swim in clear, turquoise waters at Miyako Island, Okinawa, Japan. Miyako Island is a beach-lover’s paradise of immaculate, white sandy beaches. Only around 50 minutes by air from Naha, Miyako Island is a charming place to let your cares slip away while gazing out at the endless blue sea. Miyako Island is the largest of the Miyako Islands and lies approximately 300 kilometers to the southwest of Naha, halfway between Taiwan and the main island of Okinawa. At 159.26 square kilometers, it is still quite compact in size, and a drive from Nishi-Hennazaki to Higashi-Hennazaki, the two furthest capes, can be completed in around 45 minutes. Miyako Island’s pure, unspoiled beaches are fringed by shimmering, blue waters. At seven kilometers long, Yonaha Maehama Beach is among the longest of the island’s beaches, and often appears in lists of Japan’s top beaches. Swim or snorkel in the shallow, transparent sea at Aragusuku Beach and you might see brightly colored subtropical fish! Compact Sunayama Beach, known for its arch-shaped rock, is tucked away in a small cove, and is accessed by walking through a narrow tunnel of trees. Credit : ykohiii via ig #japan #japantravel #japantrip #visitjapan #explorejapan #traveljapan #discoverjapan #okinawa #okinawatrip #okinawajapan

♬ original sound – Bipi – Bipi

Miyako Island

Craving even more tropical island adventures in Okinawa? Then set your sights due south to heavenly Miyako Island, renowned for some of Japan’s most gorgeous beaches and vibrant coral reefs!

At just 300km from Okinawa Island, Miyako flies way under the radar compared to its touristy neighbor. But with balmy weather even in winter and EXTENSIVE pearly sand beaches melting into azure waters, this island paradise beckons!

You’ll find the same romantic seaside landscapes as tropical travel magazine covers come to life here. We’re talking swoon-worthy sunsets over the shimmering sea, wind rustling through palm trees, and quiet beaches where it’s just you, and the sound of lapping waves. Complete castaway vibes, but with cozy Japanese inns and restaurants just minutes away when needed!

Outdoor lovers will also thrive getting active across Miyako – picture going snorkeling and scuba diving over kaleidoscopic coral reefs teeming with exotic fish. Even wading through the shallows, you’ll glimpse sea turtles and stingrays swirling through the crystal-clear water.

Easy Japanese Phrases For Island Hopping

Easy Japanese Phrases For Island Hopping

Ready to unlock endless island adventures across Okinawa and beyond with some key Japanese phrases? Here are handy sentences for navigating boats, beaches, snacks, and more tropical fun!

nglish PhraseJapanese Translation (Romaji)Japanese Script
Where is the ferry/boat?Fēri wa doko desu ka?フェリはどこですか?
Two roundtrip tickets, pleaseIkura desu ka?〇〇島までいくらですか?
Two roundtrip tickets pleaseOofuku ni ninmai kudasai往復に二枚ください
Beautiful beach!Suteki na kaigan desu ne!素敵な海岸ですね!
Delicious ice cream!Oishii aisukurīmu!美味しいアイスクリーム!
Chocolate banana crepe pleaseChoko banana no kurepu o kudasai!チョコバナナのクレープをください!
Snorkeling gear rental?Snōkeringu dōgu wa arimasu ka?スノーケリング道具はありますか?
Are sea turtles here?Kame wa imasu ka?亀はいますか?

With these basics, you’re ready to live your best island life, Japanese-style! Navigate between paradise isles, enjoy tasty tropical treats, hunt for gorgeous aquatic life snorkeling, and meet friendly locals across Okinawa beaches.

Visit The Best Japanese Islands This Year!

With thousands of islands to surprise you, Japan definitely serves up one of the best travel getaways in Asia. Before you travel, just remember to memorize a few Japanese expressions to communicate better with the locals. And for that, I highly recommend the Ling app!

The Ling app has bite-sized lessons for essential sentences spanning hotels, restaurants, directions, shopping emergencies and everything to unlock the complete Japan trip! Time to marine-life safari and island hop all through the Japanese Archipelago!

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