While any Japanese island can be considered family-friendly, sometimes you need that little something extra when you’re traveling with young children. A major point for islands in this list is access to major hospitals (because you just never know with little ones), which all these have. Also, all three of these islands have a wide variety of activities for all levels and ages, yet can be reached by direct flights from major cities like Tokyo.
1. Ishigaki Island
Ishigaki offers pleasant beaches, colorful coral reefs, beautiful jungles and lush mangrove rivers, all within easy reach of modern conveniences. This picturesque mountainous grazing land of Ishigaki cattle also serves as a perfect hub to visit neighboring Yaeyama islands. We often recommend Ishigaki as it has beautiful, easily accessible nature for all types of families.
2. Miyako Island
Miyakojima, or Miyako Island, is a flat coral island, formed by emerged coral reefs. You’ll find blindingly white sand beaches with clear turquoise waters along a coastline of spectacular jagged coral rocks. There are three additional islands connected by bridge from Miyakojima, which offer beautiful beaches on every side of each island. As many of these are surrounded by fringing coral reefs, the waters are often very calm. There are also countless limestone caves, which makes a great exploratory activity for rainy days. It’s also good to know that Miyakojima is free from the notorious habu pit viper.
3. Kume Island
Located 100 kilometers to the southwest of Okinawa’s main island, Kumejima was long known as the most beautiful Ryukyu island. With a 7 to 11-kilometer-long coral sand cay, turtle shell geometric rock formations and pristine white sand beaches against a backdrop of lush forest with a smattering of agriculture, it’s no wonder it has been revered for centuries. Accessible by boat, Hatenohama coral sand cay is located off Kumejima’s east coast and is an idyllic spot for beach-goers. It is also said to be one of the best kitesurfing spots in Japan.
Note: There are direct flights to Kumejima from Tokyo coinciding with Japanese summer school holidays, otherwise a change is necessary at Naha.
Photos by Ippei and Janine Naoi
Discover more of Ippei and Janine’s island guides on their website and Instagram account. You can also find their portrait photography portfolio here.
For more family-friendly destinations in Japan, check out these articles:
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Four Top Family-friendly Things to Do in Japan
Japan Family Travel: Outdoor Winter Fun in Hakuba Valley’s Tsugaike Kogen