Aim to see it at sunset
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.
The nearby aquarium and museum are also recommended
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.