First things first, Yakushima isn't some sandy atoll caressed by gentle tides. The shoreline is mostly rocky and there are some powerful currents in the area. In fact, the island slopes down under the sea so steeply that even marine biologists are amazed that Yakushima can support rich coral reefs, but that doesn't have to spoil your fun: There are three designated swimming beaches in Yakushima where you can splash around in relative safety: On the east coast, there is Haruta Hama in Anbo; on the West Coast there is the sea turtle beach in Kurio; and on the north coast there is the swimming beach in Isso.
Of course, you can enjoy the beaches year round, but during summer vacation days from mid July through the end of August, showers, restrooms, and lifeguards may be found. I believe Kurio's restrooms are open all the time, but you may want a flash light.
|A handful of sea glass from the swimming beach in Isso.|
|I love strolling the expanse of coastal flatlands near Haruta Hama.|
|Reefs and tide pools at low tide at Cape Tsusaki near Kurio. The tides can be rough, so please play it safe.|
I'm not going to state the obvious guidelines like don't swim by yourself, and don't swim after drinking alcohol, etc, but I do want to point out two important rules.
1.) Let the sea turtles be. Remember that they bury they're eggs in the sand at night, so don't bother them by going swimming at night, and try not to disturb their nests. And, of course, no fires.
2.) Be aware of dangerous animals. The swimming beaches listed here are safer than outer reefs, but to be on the safe side, don't touch or bother sea snakes, lionfish, striped eel catfish, cone shells (yes, sea shells can kill people), sea urchins, certain corals、fireworms (think underwater caterpillars), stonefish, blue-ringed octopuses, or man-of-war. Actually, you'd better find alternative plans if you've run into a mass of men-of-war. The animals listed here aren't known to attack, but some of them can kill you. (Hope to have a new post on these guys soon! In the meantime, I found this page featuring photos of many of these critters. ) Let's avoid touching anything we are unsure of!