Surfing is a popular marine activity Japan. The best beaches especially those that have great attractive waves can be packed with surfers. Do you miss surfing while you are traveling or enjoying your expat life in Osaka? Compared to America and Australia which are leading countries for popular surfing destinations, Japan isn't the most typical country to surf. However, the country's 1,864 miles (3,000 kilometers) coastline offers good surfing spots to ride on tides and catch waves!
Even though it is a fairly large city, Osaka is surrounded by the bay. You don't have to travel far to find waves to surf. There are 3 sick surfing spots accessible from Osaka! Why not check out these for the summer? Enjoy the beautiful scenery of this tropical island. After taking a look at our list of surfing spots, you could start making plans for surfing at a spot near Osaka!
SICK SURFING SPOT ACCESSIBLE FROM OSAKA #1: KATSUURA
The first surfing spot we are looking at is Katsuura in Wakayama Prefecture on the Kii Peninsula. It's 236 kilometers away from Osaka with a three-and-half-hour drive on the coastline. The Katsuura Surfing Region is stretched alongside the Pacific over and beyond the Prefectural border with Mie Prefecture, and has several spots that mostly have reef breaks. Surfers might have to wait for big surf breaks but it's worth waiting for the best surfing conditions.
We begin with Shimosato in the Southern part of Katsuura. Shimosato has waves in the surfing region and its waves are beginner friendly. Definitely recommended if you are practicing basic skills. Surfers don't hesitate to travel far up to Shimosato due to the best surfing breaks. This makes the spot popular and becomes easily busy. But you will definitely have a good time if you follow the local rules and respect other surfers.
Driving further on Route 42, a small town of Nachi attracts surfers at a fish port. Note that Nachi beach can look great but the waves are small so you might be disappointed if you are looking for medium to higher level of surfing. Both regular and goofy waves are separated at the back of the embankment at the fish port. The best way to enjoy the best surf is paddling offshore from the back of the embankment.
Furthermore, towards the North on the east side of the Kii Peninsula, you will reach Shingu. Going through the city and center of Shingu, you will see Kumano River, which is another sick surfing spot. The river mouth creates tube shaped waves with its rocking edge. These are the best in the Katsuura Region. Since local surfers are sitting in the river mouth waiting for good waves, you can surf more comfortably in the morning. However, be careful as rough currents can be expected at Shingu. Therefore, surfers are advised to follow local rules and not to surf in big groups.
JR West offers the Limited Express Kuroshio services. However, we highly suggest you drive to the Katsuura Region. Trains run only once in one or two hours. Some services stop at Shirakawa. Also, we advise you to park your car appropriately around the surfing spot and to follow local rules to avoid any troubles.
Secondly, we picked Gobo which is located at the central west of Wakayama Prefecture. A small city with a population of approximately 23,000 people. It faces the Kii Channel, part of the Pacific Ocean. Apparently, Gobo offers several good sick surfing spots. But to keep in mind, the Suika Spot can be overcrowded due to popularity amongst Kansai based surfers. Adding to that, there have been some altercations between visitors several years ago. Therefore, we advise you to follow the local rules, respect local people (especially fishermen) and park at designated car parks.
From central Osaka, go through the exit of Gobo South Interchange on the Hanwa Expressway (motorway) and keep driving on Route 42 towards Shirahama. The Gobo Power Station will appear and the following traffic light is the gateway to a fish port, which is one of the surfing spots. It is called FRP Point or Fish Port Point depending on locals. FRP Point has goofy surf breaks. We suggest you go into the wave from the right side of the embankment if you want to do an out surfing. Most importantly, there is restricted time when the area is only open for locals. If you hear this note, unfortunately you must wait until the time's finished or move to another surfing spot.
Then driving down on Route 42, you will see the Hashicho Market and the cafeteria alongside the state highway. It has a surfing spot with smaller waves and even offers a car parking area for an extra cost of 3,000 yen. The beach there is a surfing spot for beginners with the regular surfing breaks on the right hand side. Please note that there are no parking areas at the Suika Spot (featured next). Parking your car at the Hashicho Market is one of the choices for surfers heading to Suika.
Leave your car at Hashicho Market, and go to the main and most famous spot in Gobo named Suika (watermelon in Japanese) Spot. Suika Point’s reef breaks create good wave conditions for regular break surfers. Regular breaks are on the right hand side of the embankment while goofy breaks appear on the left hand side. You can start at the embankment and go into the break to the offshore for wave breaks. Considering the height of the waves, surfing over your head is the best! Otherwise, you can surf under the head but you would need to take extra care of the rocks. Goofy breaks on the left are not as good as regular breaks but are enough to enjoy goofy surfing. Above all, be aware of the height of the wave before challenging it.
As mentioned, no designated parking area is available at the embankment of the fish port at the Suika Spot. Alternatively you can park on the streets around Route 42. Parking fee at the Hashicho Market includes presents and grilled squid and beer at the Market’s cafeteria. It is worth paying 3,000 yen for the Market’s car parking.
WAKAYAMA TECHNOLOGY POLYTECHNIC
Another good surfing spot in Gobo is located at the back of Wakayama Technology Polytechnic Institute. Its southern end faces the ocean and provides as good quality waves as the Suika Spot. Surfers will enjoy their favorite marine activity with the regular breaks on the straight ahead and/or goofy breaks on the left hand side. This hidden spot is likely to get higher waves than others that have flat waves so don’t miss the Polytechnic Institute Spot! A stretch of empty land is located at the Southern end of the building where you can park.
If you keep going down on Route 42, there are two more small surfing spots. They are 1.5 kilometres further from the Polytechnic Institute and by the railway tracks further down.
It takes approximately 100 minutes from Osaka to Gobo either by car or taking the JR Limited Express Kuroshio service. Limited express trains run every hour.
SICK SURFING SPOT ACCESSIBLE FROM OSAKA #3: ISONOURA
Our last surfing spot is Isonoura, the closest spot from Osaka. Considering its easy access from the big city of Osaka, Isonoura Beach is popular amongst surfers from beginners to experts. You should expect congestion in the Isonoura Beach Resort. On the other hand, it is a beginner friendly surfing spot accessible from Osaka. Isonoura Beach surfing spot is nicknamed as Isoko and many surfers from other prefectures come to enjoy surfing. Locals look after the area and set the rules. Like the other surfing spots we introduced, we would highly advise you to follow the local rules.
Basically, the north east region of the Isonoura Beach is off shore. Waves created in the south west of the sea swell but waves are likely to become damper so surfers cannot expect high waves. Also, low pressures and typhoons are likely to produce high tides from spring through autumn. Therefore, surfers are encouraged to check the weather forecasts in order to choose the best date to surf at Isonoura. Beginners should avoid packed areas to enjoy surfing while learning new skills. In July and August, considering the increase numbers of swimmers, the beach separates swimming and surfing zones in order for safety.
Next up is Tetora Point in the south east of the Isonoura Beach. Calmer goofy breaks make this spot special for beginners and intermediates. As always, surfers are advised to follow locals on occasions when best goofy waves are brought into the surfing zone. When you see waves overhead, don’t approach because the strong currents could draw you in.
Main Point is in the centre of Isonoura Beach and has fewer locals. You can check the direction of the wind and swell to see where wave breaks become damper. In the spring, swell in the South West and wind are likely to provide you the best surfing conditions. Also we will advise you to surf at Isonoura’s Main Point when low pressures are heading to the Japan Sea.
Nishiiso Point is located on the right hand side of Isonoura Beach with the embankment. This is the spot where you can surf longer with light wave breaks. In order to do so, you need to find a spot on the left side of the embankment. Surfing conditions are best in Isonoura Beach with good waves so surfers with long and short boards share the spot. A good tip would be starting at the Main Point first and then moving to Nishiiso Point (when more confident) for a higher level of surfing.
Unfortunately, there are times when the Isonoura surfing spot is closed. However, you can always try Kata when this happens. Kata is just a bit further from this surfing point. There are surfing spots but please note that doing goofy break surfing is dangerous because of rocks at the Kata Reef Spot.
To get to this popular sick surfing spot of Isonoura Beach Resort from Osaka, either drive or use the train. Both of these take around one and an half hours. From Namba, you can just hop on the Nankai train towards Wakayama-shi and transfer there to the Kata Line. Car parking is also available with the cost of 1000 yen to 1500 yen a day.
As we introduced surfing areas in Wakayama Prefecture, these spots are accessible from Osaka so you can enjoy as a day trip. You don't have to be the best surfer either as these spots are suitable for all levels. Surfers can enjoy surfing and also visit historical attractions during their stay in Osaka.
If you are a beginner who needs more experience, Isonoura will be the best choice. This is because of its wave conditions and easy access with the use of trains. Try heading there on weekdays and/or early hours on weekends to avoid big crowds as it’s a popular surfing spot.
For intermediate and advanced surfers, Gobo would be the best surfing area. Specifically Suika and Technology Polytechnic Institute Spots, because of good waves and access from Osaka. Don’t miss delicious foods and beer at the Hashicho Market’s cafeteria after your favorite marine activity!
If you can afford it or invest more time, drive all the way to Katsuura for a less crowded surfing spot. Shimosato and Nachi are suitable for beginners while intermediates and experts can hit Shimosato or Shingu for higher waves. Now bring along your friends and family members to enjoy surfing at these fabulous sick surfing spots!