Translating as “white beach”, Shirahama is a seaside resort and one of Japan’s biggest onsen towns. It’s packed with family-friendly amusement parks and oceanside baths, while its natural highlights include magnificent rock formations and dramatic coastal cliffs.
Things to do in Shirahama
Relax in the large open-air bath of Shirasuna that overlooks the white sands of Shirahama or head to Sakinoyu, believed to be the oldest onsen in Japan. This famous hot spring bath offers magnificent views of the Pacific waves crashing at the rocky shores, with bathers often feeling the spray of the ocean.
Shirahama is renowned for its dramatic rock formations, including the steep coastal cliffs and caves of Sandanbeki that are accessed by an elevator. Admire the sheet-like rocks of Senjojiki, named after their resemblance to tatami mats, and travel to the offshore island of Engetsu where the sun sets between a framing arch.
Learn about the geology behind hot springs in the videos and sculptural displays at Onsen Shiryokan, then admire prints and historical artefacts from Wakayama at the tiny Kishu Museum. Visit the Minakata Kumagusu Museum, which explores the life of this much-loved Japanese naturalist and folklorist.
If you’re travelling with kids, visit the Adventure World amusement park to ride its roller coaster and Ferris wheel, then come face-to-face with the panda bears in the on-site zoo. Alternatively, let the kids loose in the illusory art exhibits, adventure playground and 3D theatre of Energy Land.
Getting around Shirahama
Nanki–Shirahama Airport is five minutes’ drive from Shirahama and has daily flights to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. Shirahama is just under three hours’ drive from Osaka, with buses connecting destinations throughout the town and its surrounds.