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Regularly voted Japan’s best beach by travel publications worldwide, it’s hard to be disappointed with the 7 km (4 miles) of sand so white that it glows in the sun. The beach shelves gently into calm, balmy water. The sea is a bright aquamarine, with a band of dark blue across the horizon marking the ocean drop-off.

Despite its many visitors, the beach is long enough to rarely feel crowded. Arrive in the early morning to walk the promenade and you’ll usually have it to yourself. West-facing Maehama puts on a show every evening as the sun sets and shoots shocks of pink-red across the sky.

Located on the island of Miyako-jima, Maehama Beach is a 30 minute flight from Ishigaki Island, and most visitors choose to island-hop between beaches. It’s one of Japan’s more traditional beach destinations, so you’ll find water sports and beachside restaurants – many specialising in high-quality yakiniku (slices of beef grilled at the table).

You may also be interested in our 10 best beaches in the United States.

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