Okinawa Prefecture is full of unique beaches. Immerse yourself in the Southern island atmosphere surrounded by the blue sky and ocean and white sandy beach, while enjoying a dip in the sea and even marine sports. Here are the ten best beaches to go to, each with its own distinctive charms.
1. Yonaha Maehama Beach
This is a beach on the southwest side of Miyako Island, next to Miyakojima Tokyu Hotel & Resorts. It is located approximately 7km from Miyako Airport. If you rent a car, you could get there in about 20-minutes! The beach is said by some to be the most beautiful in Asia, and has stunning, fine white sand, which contrasts marvelously with the cobalt blue ocean.
It is a long beach that stretches for 7km, so although it is popular during the season, it never feels crowded. You can enjoy various activities here as well, such as banana boating and jet-skiing.
2. Kondoi Beach
Taketomi Island, which is a part of the Yaeyama Islands, is a small island located about 10 minutes on a high-speed boat from Ishigaki Island. It is full of tropical charm with houses with typical Okinawan red tiles and Shiisa lions on the roofs, coral rock walls, and colorful flowers.
Kondoi Beach, which is surrounded by Japan's largest coral reef, is a particularly alluring location on the island and is surrounded by rich nature. At this beach, you can enjoy the slow passage of time surrounded by the blue sky, azure ocean, and gleaming, white sand. The water is shallow and calm, so it is perfect for splashing around in the water. The coral reef can be approached easily during low tide, so you can see the fish swimming around it. The island offers other fun activities such as cycling and hiking.
3. Nishihama Beach
Hateruma Island - Japan's southernmost inhabited island - is located about 60 minutes on a high-speed boat from Ishigaki Ritoh Ferry Terminal. For anyone visiting Hateruma Island, Nishihama Beach is a must see location that has been voted the best beach in Japan on TripAdvisor in the past. It is a place with unmatched beauty with an ocean a unique color called "Hateruma blue" creating a sublime contrast with the gleaming, white sandy beach stretching for more than 1km.
There is much more to see on Hateruma Island, including the sharp cliffs of Cape Takana with powerful, rough waves crashing against it, and Hateruma Observation Tower, where you can see the Southern Cross and other wonders of the night sky. There are rental bicycles, cars, and tour buses as ways of exploring the island.
Hatenohama is an uninhabited island off the east coast of Kume Island with three sandy beaches totaling 7km. The beaches have pure white sand and are surrounded by the blue ocean and skies, and have no facilities other than portable toilets. This is a wonderfully liberating place to enjoy snorkeling and bathing, or just to enjoy looking at an ocean with colors that change depending on the sunlight. To get there, take one of the boats from the port on Kume Island. It will take about 20 minutes. Contact one of the operators for details.
5. Nirai Beach
This is the private beach of Hotel Nikko Alivila in Yomitan-son in the central part of the main island of Okinawa. It is a natural beach that has not been mined or touched in any other way, with one of the most transparent waters in the prefecture where many sea creatures, such as sea turtles, live. It is also known for the beauty of the coral reef and is a popular diving spot. There are many other marine activities available here, such as snorkeling, cruising, jet skiing and dragon boating. The scenery of the ocean that changes depending on the tide is also worth seeing, with the view of the sun setting on the East China Sea being particularly spectacular.
6. Aragusuku Beach
Aragusuku Beach on Miyako Island is a popular beach that many locals go to regularly. It is located about 35 minutes by car from Miyako Airport. It is a great beach for snorkeling, where you can see colorful branch coral and tropical fish, such as clownfish. Shops renting marine goods open during the season. It is a shallow beach where children can play safely, so it is perfect for family outings. Note, however, that the open sea can be dangerous, so avoid swimming too far out into the ocean.
7. Sunayama Beach
This is the most popular tourist destination on Miyako Island. White sand dunes with sand as fine as powder and the cobalt blue ocean stretch out as far as the eye can see under the gleaming sun. Unique to this beach is the natural arch created by coral - a great work of art formed by nature that blends into the tropical landscape. The view of the sun setting beyond the arch is particularly beautiful. The beach is about 4km from the district of Hirara in Miyako City, so the ease of access is also a plus.
8. Aharen Beach
Tokashiki Island is located about 32km to the west of Naha City, about a 35-minute ride on a high-speed boat. The main beach of this nature-rich island is Aharen Beach. It is a beach with about 800m of pure white, fine sand by an ocean of a mystic color called "Kerama blue". There are colorful coral in the water so it is popular for snorkeling. The waves are relatively calm here, so small children can enjoy playing in the water. The beach is about a 20-minute drive from the island's port. There is a mountain between the port and the beach, so it's better to rent a car or take a taxi than to walk or bike.
9. Okuma Beach
Yambaru is the northern part of the main island of Okinawa, with deep forests and blue ocean where rare animals such as Yambaru Kuina (Okinawa rail) live. Okuma Beach is the natural private beach of Okuma Private Beach & Resort located in this area. The coral reef surrounded by rich nature presents a different aspect depending on the sunlight, shining brilliantly like jewels. In particular, the sunset, when the golden sun slowly dyes the ocean and sky a rich orange color, is a must see. If you're lucky, you may even see the "green flash", where the sun briefly turns green.
10. Minna Beach
Minna Island, located off the coast of a peninsula in the northern part of Okinawa Island, is a small crescent-shaped island. It is an island with untouched nature surrounded by coral reefs. The highly transparent emerald green water, together with the white sandy beach, creates a wonderfully liberating atmosphere.
The beach is popular for marine sports such as diving, banana boats and glass boats. Barbecuing on the beach is another way to enjoy this island. It is just 15 minutes on a high-speed boat from the main island of Okinawa, so there are many day-trippers.
If you're thinking about visiting Okinawa, be sure to refer to this article when making your plans!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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