Top 10 Okinawa Beaches
The Okinawa prefecture consists of 150 islands and is home to the best beaches in Japan. The busy season is between April and October and the bulk of tourists visit to spend time on the many breathtakingly beautiful tropical Okinawa beaches or to tour the many World War II sites. Although, there are vast amounts of shorelines worth visiting across the archipelago, we will only list 10.
The picture perfect Ama beach is conveniently located on Zamami island – near Okinawa’s capital city, Naha. It’s a highly popular spot for those interested in snorkeling and turtle spotting. Glass bottom boat rides are also available from where tourists can see these turtles, beautiful coral gardens and a plethora of colorful fish. In addition, there are affordable camping sites and cozy cabins next to the shoreline in case you would like to spend the evening.
On the northern side of the world’s second largest aquarium – the Ocean Expo Park, sits the spectacular Emerald beach. It’s one of the most popular Okinawa beaches which is why its been divided into three sections to accommodate the large amount of visitors. Each of these sections are approximately 150 meters long and are titled – resting, watching and playing. If you visit here during the annual summer festival (usually held during mid-July) you will be able to watch the biggest fireworks display in Japan.
This stretch of Okinawa shoreline which is located on Ishigaki island, is part of the Fusaki Resort Village but don’t let that deter you – it’s open to the general public. The sunsets are truly spectacular and its also one of the safest swimming beaches on the island thanks to the nets which protect swimmers from the swarms of jellyfish which periodically plague the island. Apart from swimming, visitors are able to enjoy other activities such as kayaking, jet skiing and wakeboarding.
The beautiful Kitanashiro beach which is on the main island is quiet and has white sandy shores. It’s a popular place for snorkeling, as well as barbecuing and is also a nesting beach for sea turtles.
Minna beach sits on the small Minnajima island which can be easily reached via a 15 minute ferry ride from the Motobu port. It’s a pretty popular stretch of shoreline but even on its busiest days its still quieter than most other popular beaches around Okinawa. It’s mostly frequented by scuba divers, snorkelers and sun bathers. Minnajima is less developed than one would expect but there are quality facilities, overnight accommodations and even a small forest in the middle of the island one can explore.
Nakamoto sits on the western shores of Kuroshima Island. It’s one of the best Okinawa beaches for snorkeling thanks to the abundance of coral reefs and diverse sea life. Sun bathers, on the other hand, are more than likely to find the place disappointing. The actual shore only extends a few short meters before reaching the water and the sand is a mixture of crushed coral, pebbles and coarse sand. If you’re an avid snorkeler then you’ll be glad to know you can rent snorkeling gear from a rental place nearby.
Naminoue is the only swimming beach within Naha city limits. The waters are calm enough for all age groups and the snorkeling is not bad either. There are also two unique things about this little stretch of shoreline. The first being a freeway overpass which runs right above the ocean water and the second being a cliff facing the ocean with the Naminoue Shrine on top of it.
The 1 kilometer long picturesque Nishibama beach is located on Akajima island. From the shoreline you will have a beautiful view of the Kerama Islands bay. In addition, the crystal clear waters, corals and colorful fish species makes it an unforgettable snorkelers paradise.
Sitting a few short kilometers from Miyakojima island’s main city, Hirara – is Sunayama with its famous rock arch. The sands are soft and white while the waters are perfect for snorkeling and swimming. If you do not like crowded beaches then be sure to visit during the morning hours because the afternoons can get really busy.
The resort beach known as Yonaha-maehama sits on the pretty isolated Miyako island yet attracts large amounts of foreign and local tourists. The place can get extremely crowded during the summer months when hordes of people are all squished onto a 7 meter wide shoreline. If you cant visit during the off-season and you don’t mind the crowds, you will be able to enjoy swimming and snorkeling in pristine waters.
Yonaha-maehama is particularly crowded during the month of April when they hold their yearly iron man race which attracts 1,000 participants and was voted as the best beach in Japan in 2014.