12 Best Beaches in Okinawa
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Because of its location and moderate climate, the Okinawa prefecture is Japan's favorite beach destination. This is one place in Japan where you can find beaches that are open all year long, where remote sandy corners and popular beaches coexist beautifully on all sides of the island.
White soft sands, crystal-clear waters perfect for swimming and snorkeling, and some of the cleanest coastlines in Asia make Okinawa a great summer destination. Even better, most beaches are easily accessible from nearby cities using public transportation.
Aside from July and August, when the beaches are busy because of school holidays, most Okinawa beaches are relatively quiet and are a great escape if you're looking to enjoy the seaside for a while.
For ideas on the best places to visit for a dose of sand and sea, check out our list of Okinawa's most stunning beaches.
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1. Furuzamami Beach
The most famous beach on the Kerama archipelago, Furuzamami Beach has some of the best coral reefs in Okinawa. Although part of the coral reef is now closed off to protect it from damage, there are still plenty of colorful clownfish, sea snakes, sea anemones, and several species of butterflyfish in the area.
Furuzamami Beach is mostly underdeveloped, which has helped keep the white sands clean and soft. A small shop on the beach sells Japanese snacks and cold drinks, but there are no other food stands in the area. Swimming is possible here all year-round because of the warm water, and in the warmer months, you'll find plenty of beach umbrellas for rent lining up the coastline.
If snorkeling at Furuzamami Beach is not enough, make your way to nearby Ama Beach for another great spot. Considered one of the most beautiful spots in the Kerama Islands, Ama beach is famous for its sea turtle population - snorkelers and swimmers can easily spot them in the calm turquoise waters, especially during high tide.
2. Sunset Beach
As the name suggests, Sunset Beach is famous for its golden sunsets right over the water. Families, couples, and visitors all congregate regularly on this small 250-meter-long beach in the evenings to watch the sky change into shades of reds and yellows.
Barbecue facilities dot the coastline, and visitors can find plenty of things to do just a few steps away from the golden sands of Sunset Beach. Because the water is shallow, it's only possible to swim here during high tide, and only between mid-April and October.
The beach is located on an artificial bay that extends next to the shopping and entertainment complex Mihama American Village. As the US military base is just around the corner, much of the area has a strong Western influence - if you're craving home, this is the place to visit.
3. Mibaru Beach
Mirabu Beach is located on the southeastern coast side, and it enjoys a shorter swimming season than other beaches in Okinawa. But even during the busy months - April to October - the beach remains quiet and secluded enough, with simpler amenities and fewer offerings.
This makes Mirabu beach a perfect destination if you're after soft sands and sunshine, a place to relax or maybe jump into the water for some snorkeling. There are no restaurants around, but during the busier months, food vendors walk up and down the one-kilometer-long beach offering drinks and snacks.
For those who want to enjoy the crystal-clear blue water and abundant marine life without getting wet, Mirabu Beach is one of the few places around where you can take a ride on a glass-bottom boat.
4. Sunayama Beach
Famous for its arch-shaped rocks and its beautiful sunsets over emerald green waters, Sunayama Beach is a quiet hideaway on Miyakojima Island. Reaching the island is part of the magic, as you'll have to follow a sandy path that zigzags around trees, through thick vegetation, and up a small hill until it opens up right over the beach.
A 70-meter-long beach of white soft sands, Sunayama also has very quiet, clear waters perfect for swimming and snorkeling. Crossing under the large natural coral and stone arch gets you to a more private corner of the beach, where the air is cooler and you'll find some shade - a nice break from the hot mid-day sun.
While Sunayama can get crowded during the day, the area remains quiet and underdeveloped, with only one vending machine offering snacks where the path starts.
5. Zanpa Beach
Surrounded by the towering cliffs of Cape Zanpa - great for hiking and panoramic views over the water - Zanpa Beach is a popular destination for swimming. Because of its gently slopping coastline and the fact that it's protected from the surf, the beach is safe even for young kids and in both low and high tide.
If you're looking to relax, rent a chair and umbrella set on the soft white sands and just enjoy the sea breeze. For those who want some active fun, it's possible to rent a kayak or get a banana boat ride. Snorkeling is not possible on this beach.
You can also make a reservation to use one of the barbecue pavilions or go across the street to the small petting zoo when you need a break from all the sun. Or walk to the end of the beach to find the lighthouse and discover great viewpoints along the way.
6. Okuma Beach
Okuma Beach is located within the Okuma Private Beach & Resort and was once reserved for US military use only. The one-kilometer-long beach is now accessible to everyone, though there's an admission fee for those not staying at the resort.
Although there are good facilities and plenty of things to do here - including chances to rent boats, Jet Skis, and kayaks - the main attractions of Okuma are the quiet surroundings and the cooling sea breeze.
If you want to stay in the area, there are several campgrounds and cottages nearby. Or you can simply stop by for a few hours and enjoy what most visitors come to Okuma Beach for - the amazing snorkeling.
7. Manza Beach
Manza Beach is technically part of the ANA InterContinental Manza Beach Resort, but it's open to the public and accessible for free. This 300-meter-long, soft, white beach offers plenty of water-based activities, including canoe and kayak rentals, paddleboarding, banana boat rentals, and even an inflatable water park.
There are also great views of nearby Cape Manzamo from the shore, and those wanting a more panoramic view of the East China Sea can try parasailing over the peninsula.
Lots of inlets and tree-lined patches of sand surround the area, perfect to explore on foot or with a kayak. The beach offers plenty of options for eating, and you are within walking distance of major attractions, including swimming pools and shops.
Manza Beach is also an excellent spot for snorkeling because of its clear waters and rich colorful coral. Instructors can be hired through the resort.
8. Ishigaki Island
Ishigaki Island is home to ports, a ferry terminal, and many hotels and restaurants - most of which are located around Ishigaki City. This is the main arrival point for most tourists coming to discover the many beaches that dot the island - from soft, sandy ones to rocky coastlines covered in beautiful coral.
Ishigaki beaches offer good snorkeling, diving, and swimming, though some areas have strong currents and an abundance of jellyfish between the months of June and October. Although none of the beaches have lifeguards, most of them do offer some facilities such as rental shops, showers, and sun umbrellas.
Sukuji Beach is particularly popular because of its shallow, crystal-clear waters, perfect for snorkeling. Sunset Beach, on the other hand, is a little more secluded, set in a quiet cove in the northeastern part of the island. It's a great beach for swimming, as it's surrounded by a net to keep jellyfish away.
When you're tired of lying down on the warm sand, head deeper into the island to explore the hilly hiking trails, the beautiful green forests, and the many rivers - during the warmer months, it's possible to kayak on the blue waters and enjoy the sight of the wild scenery and tall mountains around.
9. Tinu Beach
Kouri Island is one of Okinawa's favorite destinations for swimming because of its emerald green waters and shallow, sandy bottom. In fact, the island's popular Tinu beach is open all year-round, and it's possible to swim here in every season because of the mild weather in the area.
Accessible via the two-kilometer-long Kouri Bridge, the island and its beach are a popular escape for local families and offer plenty of fun activities, including rental services for snorkeling equipment and beach umbrellas.
Tinu Beach is famous for the two heart-shaped rocks coming out of the waves, which have earned Kouri the nickname of "Love Island." With a total circumference of just eight kilometers, Kouri Island is just as small as it feels.
There are no major developments here - no hotels, no restaurants - and when the weather is rainy or windy, the entire island is almost deserted. This is the perfect time for a long walk to discover the local sweet potato and sugarcane fields before heading back to the sandy coastline.
10. Sesoko Beach
Sesoko Beach is located on the island of the same name. The small island can be accessed on foot during low tide or through a bridge that connects to the main island of Okinawa the rest of the time.
Sesoko Island is actually home to several beaches, some more secluded, some full of fun activities for the entire family - all of them soft and clean. Sesoko beach itself is an 800-meter-long beauty, with crystal-clear waters perfect for swimming.
Banana boat rides and snorkeling are popular activities here. It's also possible to rent beach and swimming gear, and the beach also offers changing rooms, lockers, shower facilities, and a few food and drink stalls.
11. Nishihara Kira Kira Beach
Located within the Nishihara marine park, this 550-meter-long, soft, white beach offers plenty of activities and marine sports, as well as an area for swimming, a large open area where barbecues are allowed, and two fields for those who want to try their hand at beach volleyball or soccer. Jet Skis and banana boats are available for rent.
The beach is open from April to October, but barbecuing is possible all year-round. Admission (as well as parking) are always free. Those who don't want to bring a picnic can grab something at the local food stands. Families who need a break from the sun can also cross the street and go to Dolphin Park, a large playground and entertainment area.
The park complex also includes plenty of gazebos, viewing points, and rest areas.
12. Onna Village Beaches
The Onna Village is most famous for being home to Manzamo, a cliff meadow facing the East China Sea. But while Manzamo might get most of the attention - especially for its stunning sunset views - the local beaches are equally beautiful.
Moon Beach in Onna is particularly striking - a long, narrow stretch of soft sands in the heart of the Sekiryo Mountains area.
Tiger Beach and Diamond Beach are two of the most famous of the beaches here, however, with plenty of crystal-clear water; lots of corals; and mostly quiet, so you can have your own space even during the busiest months.
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