Wakaywama features stunning beauty like nowhere else. From Engetsu Island, a place where the sunset is incredible as it falls between a hole carved into the island by waves, a beach made of white sand, and a wildlife park that features giant pandas, are just three excellent attractions that would make a trip to Wakayama worthwhile:
(image by upload.wikimedia.org)
At Rinkaiura, the ocean by Wakayama’s Shirahama region, sits Engetsu Island. Officially known as Takashima Island, a hole has been carved right in the middle of the island through the effects of waves and wind which has given it the nickname of Engetsu (full moon). The low tide is such that the water recedes enough so that one can walk over to the island. In the surrounding area, tropical fish and coral among other forms of life can be seen in the beautiful clear sea. Engetsu Island which just seems to plop out of the ocean is admired as a symbol of Shirahama. The collaboration of the transparent sea and Engetsu under the blue sky is wonderful, but the most popular feature is seeing the sun set. The hole in Engetsu that seems as if it could swallow the sunset has an exceptional beauty whose scenery has made it one of the Top 100 Sunsets of Wakayama Prefecture. The best time to take those photographs of the white sands of Shirahama, the clear waters and the setting sun as seen from the sea caves of Engetsu is 6:30 in summer and 4:30 in winter.
In the surrounding area of Shirahama where Engetsu Island is located, there are the Shirahama Aquarium of Kyoto University and the Minakata Kumagusu Museum. At the aquarium, there is a rich collection of invertebrates such as coral, shrimp and crab whose numbers make the aquarium the foremost in Japan. And the Minakata Kumagusu Museum was named after the world-famous mycologist who was born in Wakayama. Kumagusu’s specimens, documents and personal effects are all stored at the museum which is worth a visit. At the beaches of Shirahama which are noted for the beautiful sea water, you can enjoy windsurfing in summer and enjoy a relaxing foot bath in the cold winter for free while viewing Engetsu. As well, just a bit away from Shirahama, there is also Tsubaki Onsen where you can spend a leisurely time at its accommodations.
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Engetsu Island
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Engetsu Island
- Tours of Engetsu Island
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The coast of Shirarahama Beach in Shirahama Town, Wakayama Prefecture cuts an arc through the area which measures 640 meters in length. The pure white sand is mainly quartz which will fall through your hands like powder. The beautiful beach that is easy on the feet and the emerald green clear ocean make for something out of the South Seas. What is also attractive is the ability to walk barefoot safely from the beach into the water easily. The summer is alive with sea bathers and a rainbow of parasols increasingly brings out the South Seas feeling. Colorful fish just like the ones from the tropics can be seen and there are plenty of divers so that it is a popular area as one of the loveliest ocean spots in Japan. Also, the area is great during sunset. The sight of the deep red setting sun sinking into the horizon soothes the soul.
Marine activities can be enjoyed from May to September, and it is the popular season for people to fill up the beach. However, there are onsen at Shirarahama Beach that can be especially enjoyed in the winter. You can enjoy yourselves at the hot springs of Shirara-yu which has that nostalgic air of a neighborhood public bath from the old days, and Shirasuna which can be entered in bathing suits while viewing Shirarahama Beach. The onsen can also be enjoyed during the summer when you want to warm up after getting chilled from all of the ocean activity, and they are the perfect places to relax after a stroll along the shore. How about spending a luxurious time in a hot spring while looking for that lovely view on the beach?
There are various events at Shirarahama Beach. It’s not just swimming that can be enjoyed when you have events such as the Sand Festival Competition, the Nanki Shirahama Message Fireworks, the Shirahama Fireworks Festival, and the Candle Illumination where candles are placed in the sand. Not just limited to the summer, this is a beach that is alive with events such as fireworks and illumination all throughout the year.
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Shirarahama Beach
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Shirarahama Beach
- Tours of Shirarahama Beach
(image by upload.wikimedia.org)
At Adventure World, there are a variety of animals being raised here, but it’s the Giant Panda that has won the popularity contest. In fact, 2 Giant Panda cubs were just born in the winter of 2015 at Adventure World which boasts the world’s largest in-house breeding facility outside of China. Naturally, you can view these cubs along with the other pandas up close. Furthermore, although a separate admission is involved for panda fans, tours such as the Backyard Tour at the Rare Animal Breeding Center and the Premium Romantic Tour where you can get to feed the pandas are also recommended. Of course, besides the pandas, you can also get a close-up view of carnivores such as lions and cheetahs on safari and other animals such as giraffes and rhinoceroses. With bus tours, jeep tours where you can drive your own jeep around the area and the lion feedings where you are able to see the sight of lions at meal time, there is a whole lot that you can add to your spectacular experience.
At the aquarium, there are daily shows of the super popular dolphins and whales. These dynamic shows are absolutely breathtaking which can be enjoyed by everyone of all ages. You can also come across penguins, seals, otters and polar bears. In addition, for a separate price, there are lots of petting events. You can literally get in touch with so many animals such as through a guided educational tour of the seals, the dolphin feedings where you can communicate and touch them, and Penguins On Ice. What is attractive is that you not only can see them swimming in the water tanks but also can get as close to them as possible.
Admission: Adult: ¥ 4,100 / Child: ¥ 2,500