Asia is world-famous for its beaches with beautiful white sands and clear, turquoise waters. Countries like Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and the Maldives consistently top lists of the world’s best beach destinations.
South and Southeast Asia are especially renowned for their islands and beaches. Though you might not expect it, many beach destinations in East Asia are breathtaking. In fact, some of them can even rival other esteemed destinations across the globe.
This list is by no means comprehensive, but gives a great idea of the beauty of the beaches of East Asia. Perhaps it can even inspire your next beach getaway in Asia!
1. Okinawa Island
Similar to Hawai’i, “Okinawa” refers to both a group of islands and the name of the largest island in the chain (Okinawa Island/Okinawa-honto). Most people have heard of Okinawa, but few people I have talked to actually have any idea how gorgeous these islands are.
Just look at the stunning, variegated blues of the water outside the Churaumi Aquarium on the big island:
Outside the Churaumi Aquarium on Okinawa Island
Look at this beautiful gradient of blues!
2. Kerama Islands
The Okinawa Islands are actually part of a larger chain of islands collectively known as the Ryukyu Islands (named after the Ryukyuans). In fact, the most picturesque beaches in the region are not on Okinawa Island! They are found elsewhere in the Ryukyu Islands, and they can be pretty far away from Okinawa and the rest of Japan.
Many of the islands with the best beaches, like Miyako Islands or Yaeyama Islands, can only be reached by plane from Okinawa Island. This can make them tricky to visit if you have limited time and/or visiting Japan from abroad. I haven’t had the pleasure of visiting either the Miyako or Yaeyama Islands yet, but I absolutely plan to do so. I think they are among the best beach destinations in East Asia, if not among Asia as a while.
However, some islands with absolutely dazzling beaches are just a ferry ride away from Okinawa Island, including the Kerama Islands. I have visited Tokashiki Island (Tokashiki-jima) and Zamami Island (Zamami-jima), two of the Kerama Islands, and both islands have postcard-perfect beaches.
Aharen Beach on Tokashiki Island, the featured image for this blog post, has crystal waters perfect for snorkeling. It’s a serene spot to enjoy the gorgeous views and calming sounds of the ocean.
Aharen Beach on Tokashiki Island
Furuzamami Beach on Zamami Island
Ama Beach on Zamami Island
I don’t think you could go wrong visiting any of the Ryukyu Islands, and they are definitely worth the trip!
3. Jeju Island
Jeju Island (Jejudo) is the largest island of South Korea, and features a volcano (Hallasan) in the dead center of the island. Jeju is one of the most popular domestic destinations for Koreans, especially for a beach getaway.
While the waters around Jeju is not quite as spectacular as those of the Ryukyu Islands, they can still be quite striking!
Azure and aquamarine waters around Jeju
Volcanic rock beach on Jeju
Korea’s coast is dotted with countless islands. I have visited a number of these islands, and one of my favorite destinations was a small, relatively rural spot called Bijindo (Bijin Island). Bijindo is actually not island, but two islands joined together by a bridge!
With a very slow pace of life and a large stretch of white sands set against a backdrop of far-off islands and flawless water, Bijindo is an extraordinarily gorgeous and placid place to get in touch with nature.
The pristine sands and waters of Bijindo
Haeundae Beach in Busan
Gwangan Bridge and the beach at Gwangalli Beach
Buildings along Gwangalli Beach
6. East Coast
Gorgeous waters on Korea’s eastern coast
You can see Sokcho’s nice sand and a bit of the color of the sea, despite the rain
Luckily, there are many cities and beaches along the east coast, making it easy to find someplace to visit for any Korea itinerary.
And if you’d like to visit one of South Korea’s most beautiful islands, you can easily get there from four ports on the east coast.