Okinawa prefecture is made up of 150 islands and is home to many of the best beaches in Japan. The busy season is between April and October because that’s when the bulk of local and international tourists go to enjoy the tropical coastlines and to visit the many World War II battle sites. We will only list 10 of the best Okinawa beaches, although there are countless more that are worth visiting.
- Ama Beach
- Emerald Beach
- Fusaki Beach
- Kitanashiro Beach
- Minnajima Beach
- Nakamoto Beach
- Naminoue Beach
- Nishibama Beach
- Sunayama Beach
- Yonaha-Maehama Beach
The picture-perfect Ama Beach is on Zamami island – near Okinawa’s capital city, Naha. It’s a popular place 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 endless varieties of colorful fish. In addition, there are affordable camping sites and cozy cabins next to the shoreline in case you’re thinking of spending the evening.
Emerald Beach sits on the northern side of the world’s second-largest aquarium – the Ocean Expo Park. It’s one of the most popular stretches of coastline in Okinawa and is therefore divided up into three sections to accommodate large amounts of visitors. Each of the three sections is approximately 150 meters long and is 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 shoreline is located on Ishigaki Island and belongs to the Fusaki Resort Village. But don’t let that deter you because it’s open to the general public. The sunsets are truly spectacular, and it’s 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 can partake in other activities such as kayaking, jet-skiing, and wakeboarding.
The beautiful Kitanashiro beach, which is on the main island, is surprisingly quiet despite its beauty and white sandy shores. It mainly attracts snorkelers and sea turtles who come ashore to lay their eggs.
Minna beach sits on the small Minnajima island, which can be reached via a 15-minute ferry ride from Motobu Port. It’s a pretty popular stretch of shoreline, but even on its busiest days, it’s still quieter than most of the other famous beaches around Okinawa. It’s mostly frequented by scuba divers, snorkelers, and sunbathers. 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. Sunbathers, on the other hand, are more than likely to find the place disappointing because the shore only extends a few short meters before reaching the water. If that isn’t disappointing enough, the sand is also a mixture of crushed coral, pebbles, and coarse sand – so good luck tanning on that.
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. Also, the crystal clear waters, corals, and colorful fish species make it an unforgettable snorkeler’s paradise.
Sitting a few short kilometers from Miyakojima island’s main city, Hirara – is Sunayama Beach 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 it is usually jam-packed in the afternoons.
Yonaha-maehama is a resort beach on the pretty isolated Miyako island yet attracts large amounts of foreign and local tourists during the day. 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.
Also, expect larger than usual crowds during April when they hold their yearly iron man race, which attracts 1,000 participants. Interestingly, it was also voted as the best beach in Japan in 2014.