One of the best things to do in Okinawa is of course, getting your dose of sun and sea! With over 160 islands including 49 inhabited ones, there are a lot of beautiful beaches in Okinawa, especially in the smaller islands. Pristine, powdery white sands, crystalline turquoise oceans, colourful coral reefs and abundant marine life are just some of the best things about this Japanese subtropical island. Here are the best beaches in Okinawa whether you want to swim, snorkel or simply soak in the sunshine!
1. Maehama Beach, Miyako Island
Miyako is the fourth largest island in Okinawa Prefecture and known for some of Japan’s best beaches. One that consistently leads the rankings is Maehama Beach, a seven-kilometer stretch of perfect sandy shores and sparkling waters. You can swim and do other water sports here, and the beach is also well-equipped with showers, toilets and a rental shop. It also sees some of the island’s most beautiful sunsets, and when the night sets it, Mehama makes a wonderful spot for stargazing.
2. Sunayama Beach, Miyako Island
With its white sand, clear blue waters and rock formations, Sunayama Beach is also one of the best beaches in Okinawa and Miyako Island. Getting here is part of the magic, as you’ll have to follow a sandy path through green foliage and up a small hill. Once you’ve reached the top, the beautiful ocean comes into view. At 70 meters, the beach itself is small, but white sand, blue ocean and the dark arched rock make it very aesthetically pleasing.
3. Kondoi Beach, Taketomi Island
With rows of homes with red brick roofs and oxcarts in the streets, Okinawa’s original untouched scenery remains on Taketomi Island. Kondoi Beach has clear waters and gentle waves and there’s plenty of space for sunbathing, too. There are changing rooms, bathrooms and showers, along with shops where you can rent beach gear. If you stroll out into the shallows you will be able to see multicoloured fishes darting around the corals, and on land you can attempt to befriend the local cats.
4. Furuzamami Beach, Zamami Island
Furuzamami Beach is home to some of the best coral reefs in Okinawa. Part of it is now closed to protect it from damage, but there are still plenty of colorful clownfish, sea snakes, anemones, and different species of marine life. Swimming and snorkelling is possible here all year round, but make sure to check for the areas that are off-limits. In the warmer months there are also plenty of beach umbrellas for rent. Can’t get enough of Furuzamami Beach? Stay in one of the cottages on the island!
5. Nishibama Beach, Kerama Islands
Nishibama Beach is on the smallest of the main Kerama Islands, but it is absolutely magnificent. Here, the ocean is such a beautiful shade of blue that it even has its own name: Kerama Blue. Apart from a pristine shoreline and gentle waves perfect for swimming and snorkelling, there is also a heartwarming tale behind the area. One of the cutest features here is the statue of a dog named Shiro. This doggo used to swim three kilometers (!) across to Zamami Island just to see his girlfriend, Marilyn, who also has her own statue!
6. Zanpa Beach, Okinawa Island
Zanpa Beach is on the main island in Okinawa. Surrounded by the towering cliffs of Cape Zanpa, the area is great for hiking, and the beach is a popular spot for swimming even for young kids in both low and high tides. If you want to relax, rent a beach chair on the shore and just enjoy the sea breeze. For those who want some fun, you can rent a kayak or a banana boat ride. You can also take a walk to the end of the beach to find the lighthouse, and discover great viewpoints along the way.