Shirahama, on the southwest coast of the Kii-hantō, is Kansai's leading beach resort and has all the trappings of a major Japanese tourist attraction – huge resort hotels, aquariums, amusement parks etc. However, it also has several good onsen, a great white-sand beach and rugged coastal scenery.
Because the Japanese like to do things according to the rules – and the rules say the only time you can swim in the ocean is from late July to the end of August – the place is almost deserted outside the peak season. Therefore this is a great place to visit in June or September, and we've swum in the sea here as late as mid-October.
There's a tourist information office in the station where you can pick up a map to the main sights and accommodation. Since the station is a fair distance from the main sights, you'll need to take a bus (one way/all-day pass ¥330/1000, 15 minutes to the beach) if you arrive by rail.