Okinawa Beach – For a slower-paced way of life, sublime weather, crystal clear waters, powdery white, sandy beaches, look no further than captivating Okinawa! As Japan’s southernmost prefecture, located halfway to Taiwan from Kyushu, Okinawa is part and parcel of the quintessential tropical paradise.
This small but culturally and naturally rich island, enjoys an endless roster of pristine beaches, many of which appear as though they might as well be straight out of a magazine! Aside from natural beauty, you can enjoy endless water sports like waterskiing, kayaking, windsurfing, snorkeling, swimming.
Or you can simply laze around in the sun with a book all the while soaking in the Okinawan sun. During your next stay in this Pacific island getaway, kick your feet back, relax, and enjoy some of the world’s most picturesque, tucked-away beaches. We’ve compiled a list of the prefecture’s (which includes a chain of several tropical island paradises), best unspoiled shores to get acquainted with.
Okinawa Beach #1 – Furuzamami Beach in Zamami Island
Considered one of Japan’s most picture-worthy beaches, Furuzamami is a little slice of heaven on earth; fine, white-powdered sand, unspoiled views, and the bright, crisp Okinawan sun make for mesmerizing, natural scenery. The beach is easy to get to go as well, as it is located on the island of Zamami (a convenient and speedy one-hour ferry ride away from the main island of Okinawa). If you have the chance to visit this oasis of calm, venture to the beach during the off season in December/January, as it generally allows for more privacy and space to enjoy.
Furuzamami is host to pristine, crystal clear water, perfect for a cool dip after sun-bathing. The sand is generally very soft (even powder-like), though bits of coral and seashells are more present in some areas. Wearing proper footwear is recommended. The ocean waves are gentle, calm and refreshing (though it depends on the weather conditions, tide, etc.). Take a cool swim or just dip your feet in the water for a quick refresher; water temperature tends to be a mild 25 degrees year-round on average.
Due to its geographical position, Furuzamami is perfectly suited for snorkeling adventures. As the coral reefs that shoulder the beach are relatively shallow and close to shore, it is a great spot for family, young and old alike, to embark on an underwater adventure. It’s also an awesome spot to view tropical fish and rare fauna found only in this area. The greenery that canopies the long stretch of beach is relatively wild and untamed, yet acts as the perfect refuge to beat the sun’s rays on hotter summer days. The beach also boasts clear views of Tokashi Island off in the distance.
During the busy tourist season, the beach house is open for business; that means banana boats, snorkelling flippers, wet suits, and miscellaneous equipment for aquatic sports which are all available for rent at a great, affordable price. Make sure you have purchased a ticket for your ride there and back. The Queen Zamami Ferry is 5,970 yen for a round trip, while the standard ferry is a bit more affordable at 4,030 yen for a round trip. More info about this island here: Zamami Island Okinawa.
Okinawa Beach #2 – Ama Beach in Zamami Island
Ama Beach and its campgrounds are also conveniently located on the same island (Zamami island). The natural landscape backs onto the picturesque, white-sanded beach. Like Furuzamami, Ama too offers sweeping panoramas of the ocean and neighboring Tokashi Island. The beach itself is a long, thin stretch of white, sugary sand that takes roughly twenty minutes to walk across from start to finish.
Ama beach is a popular tourist attraction not only for its drop-dead gorgeous views and crystal-clear waters, but mainly due to the abundance of sea turtles that frequent the shallow waters and surrounding coral reeves. During high tide, sea turtles will swim up to feed on the algae that lines most of the coral reeves; which makes for a spectacular sight that is enjoyed by families and honeymooning couples.
For those who want to set up camp, you’re in luck. Adjacent to the beach itself is Ama Beach Campgrounds. The campgrounds form part of a protected environment that allows for camping experiences that can be enjoyed by family and friends for a reasonable price. The base fee to stay at the campsite is relatively cheap, coming in at 3,000 yen per person/night. This includes access to the campground’s many facilities including kitchen, cooking equipment as well as lavatory and shower facilities.
For those looking to camp outdoors, small tents cost 1,000 yen per person, medium tents for 2-3 people cost 2,000 yen, and large tents hosting 4-5 people costs 2,500 yen per night. For those who wish to buck the outdoor campground sleeping experience, cottages are available upon request (though the price per night is roughly 21,000 yen and upwards). The cottages can house up to 10 people and may be an economical and cost-effective alternative to sleeping outdoors. Cottages also contain their own bathroom, kitchen and cooking materials, as well as an air conditioner.
Access to the beach is quick and easy; the Queen Zamami Ferry takes beach-goers from the Naha Port directly to Zamami Island. Though the ferry makes several pit stops to various ports along the way. Any questions, reservations or inquiries for the campground can be made exclusively by telephone at 098-987-329.
Beach #3 – Yonaha Maehama Beach in Miyakojima
Delicately perched on the southern tip of Miyakojima Island, the largest and most populated of the Miyako Islands (and Okinawa Prefecture’s fourth largest island overall), is paradise on earth, Yonaha Maehama Beach. Known for its turquoise waters, pristine, white-powdered, sand beaches, and sublime weather year-round. Yonaha Maehama is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful places in the entire land of the rising sun. Upon arriving you’ll feel as though you’ve stumbled upon a slice of heaven on earth (but shh, don’t tell anyone!).
Though the beach itself does not boast any specific water sports or organized activities, nor does it host a slew of shops that overpopulate the grounds, Yonaha Maehama beach is geared more for lazing around. Known for its downtempo pace and inducing a calm state of relaxation and peace; this Okinawa beach allows you to get away from the hustle and bustle and truly let the beach’s chilled-out vibe, sink in. The beach itself is usually very quiet, like a secluded little retreat where you can tan in the sun and go for a refreshing dip in the calm waters after you’ve finished basking in some rays.
Compared to the other beaches on the island, Yonaha Maehama Beach has a wonderful, eclectic mix of colorful tropical fish, which visitors can check out via snorkeling expeditions (snorkeling equipment can be rented for relatively cheap price at nearby beach shops for the day). The coral reeves that constitute Yonaha Maehama Beach are shallow, close to shore, and attract many species of fish native to the island and nearby surrounding area. Disney’s beloved clown fish, the star of the classic animated film, ‘Nemo’, are found aplenty here.
Beach-goers can participate in a few thrilling water sports like jet-skiing and wind-surfing (depending on the day and weather conditions). For those who are interested in playing a round or two between beach visits, many country clubs located nearby boast rolling, emerald green 18-hole golf courses.
Afterwards, marvel at the beach’s draw-dropping, unique sunsets; visitors remark that every sunset is different. Gaze at the Okinawa sky, full of dazzling pinks, purples, reds, and oranges that offer fleeting moments of visual bliss.
Recommended Resort – Miyakojima Tokyu Hotel and Resort
For a beautiful accommodation that is centrally located and close to the beach, Miyakojima Tokyu Hotel and Resort is situated close by and overlooks the island’s blue, jewel-like waters. The resort is considered a top location highly reviewed by guests with an average rating of 9.3. Miyakojima enjoys its own tennis court, golf course, fishing opportunities, a continental buffet, and unspoiled views of the sea.
The accommodations are clean, simple, spacious and offer the perfect spot to watch the island’s sunsets. For those with young children, the resort also includes an outdoor pool and various water activities. Guests can also enjoy free rental bicycles and explore the island during the day.
Just a quick zip from the islands main airport (15-minutes away), 20 minutes from the Ryugujo Observatory, and a 10-minute drive to Yonaha Maehama beach, this resort is an excellent spot to use as a base of operations while venturing out into the countless hidden jewels the island hides around every corner.
Okinawa Beach #4 – Yonehara Beach in Ishigaki
Ishigaki island is considered to be the main political and economic hub of the Yaeyama Islands. The island and villages are known for their production of sugarcane and pineapple exports. Through its pristine environment, the island is also host to some of the best snorkeling in Okinawa as well.
Tourism plays an important yet quiet role in the island’s economy. With the misty, mysterious mountains that guard its realms, the breezy, tropical, sunny air, aquamarine waters, and sugar white beaches, it’s no wonder why tourists flock to Ishigaki’s shores!
The beach itself is quite large and spacious. The unique coral reef is home to a plethora of stunning sea life. Large volumes of fish and unique species, including puffer fish, clown fish, various types of crab, eels, and electric blue cichlid fish, can be spotted here. Guests remark that the stretch of beach is quite private and secluded, which lends itself to an experience that is peaceful and meditative. Due to the natural breakwater created by the beach’s coral reef, overpowering currents are less of an issue here, even on windy days. Beach goers can enter the waters without having to worry too much about strong currents.
While snorkeling, the best option to see the most of the aquatic life is to visit during high tide. Low tide yields a tricky time for navigating between hard, sharp rocks that constitute the coral reef and can potentially be dangerous for those who are more inexperienced in snorkeling. Though swimmers will find they have ample space to move around the reef and investigate the nooks and crannies, while discovering beautiful tropical fish species.
Snorkeling and swimming aside, this Okinawa beach serves as an excellent spot to indulge in a leisurely stroll along its shores; and with little tourists who frequent it, space and a sense of privacy is really a highlight here.
Facilities located nearby are few and far between so make sure to come fully prepared before making your way to Yonehara beach; though there are some spots where you can shower and bathe before and after your visit. The beach is accessible via car or bus. For those travelling by vehicle, car parking is available onsite. This being Japan and all, vending machines which administer drinks are also available in case you get thirsty.
For a rustic outdoor experience, the Yonehara camping ground site is a great place to pitch your tent at a relatively cheap price. Nestled in the forest surrounding alongside the beachfront, the grounds contain simple washroom and cooking facilities though the lavatories and shower stalls are a bit older and may seem a bit unkept for some individuals. The fee to stay overnight is 400 yen per person.
Recommended Resort – Ana Intercontinental Ishigaki
For those who seek to stay in a more traditional hotel or resort, best-seller and top-rated resort, Ana Intercontinental Ishigaki is a perfect place to relax and admire the serene views of the tranquil blue waters of Maesato Beach (available from every room), located nearby.
Situated just a stone’s throw away from the airport, this resort offers excellent, regionally-sourced food, a swimming pool, room service, a fitness center with fully-equipped gym, bar and lounge, as well as a spa. For around 30,000 to 40,000 yen per night, lush ocean views, comfortable sleeping quarters, and excellent customer service are available to guests. Ana Intercontinental Ishigaki is a great choice for families and individuals opting for a hotel stay during their trip to Yonehara beach.
Beach #5 – Kondoi Beach in Taketomi
With a stunning, long stretch of soft-sanded beach, emerald green and turquoise waters, Kondoi beach is what many consider to be the crown jewel of Taketomi, and for good reason. Just a short ferry ride from Ishigaki Island, Kondoi is easily accessible.
The shallow gradient of the water allows for a pleasant experience while bathing in the beach’s warm waters; although there are no coral reeves for snorkeling, and general swimming is somewhat limited due to the shallowness of the waters during both low and high tides.
Stalls, food vendors, restaurants and shops are for the most part absent on this beach, although there are facilities for bathers to rinse off, as well as washrooms for public use. The main attraction of this otherworldly beauty is its generally uncrowded and picturesque scenery, its lush, emerald green water that changes depending on the daylight, and its powdery sand. All of which combine for the perfect tropical experience!
Recommended resort – Hoshinoya Resort
In terms of nearby accommodations, a great place worth checking out is the stunning Hoshinoya Resort located on the same island of Taketomi. Just a quick zip ferry ride away from Ishigaki island, Taketomi Island (and the accompanying Hoshinoya Resort) is akin to being transported through time to an oasis of comfort and serenity.
Guests can explore the grounds and island by bicycle and water buffalo cart. The villas are simply constructed, one-story houses made of red tiled roofs with accompanying lush, tropical gardens, as well as white coral sand that line paths to the villas. This simple style of island living and architecture have remained exactly the same for centuries, something that the islanders and caretakers of this resort take great pride in when providing an experience that is true to the nature of Taketomi Island.
On-site restaurant, an outdoor pool, complimentary shuttle service, free Wi-fi are also features; along with tastefully-designed rooms, luxurious, private baths, and free bicycle rentals. Kanpira waterfall, a site of popular interest, is located 30km away. Though accommodation fees may be a bit on the pricey side, this beautiful, laid-back slice of tropical heaven is well worth the investment!
Okinawa Beach #6 – Nishi no Hama Beach in Hateruma Island
Nishi no Hama which translates to ‘west beach’ in Japanese, is a popular tourist spot that is nestled on the southernmost island of Hateruma. Serious beach enthusiasts needn’t look any further than Nishi’s jade-colored, clear waters, perfect for grabbing a towel and simply basking in the Okinawan sun. The beach waters are quite shallow, perfect for quick refreshing dips after some serious tanning. Snorkelers will be pleased to find out that this beach acts as a great spot for fish observing of all kinds of species.
Large, oversized gazebos are situated on the beach and act as the perfect refuge to beat the sometimes unrelenting rays of the Okinawan sun during summer months. Depending on the tide and weather, the waters can range from turquoise blue to sapphire; truly a sight to behold! Listen to the ocean waves crash upon the shore and the gentle island breeze whistle in your ears. While visiting Okinawa, you’re not going to want to miss this beach!
Recommended Resort – Grandvrio Ishigakijima Resort
No hotels or proper accommodations are available on the island, the closest hotel or resort would be on neighboring Ishigaki Island. A great location which comes highly recommended by guests is the Grandvrio Ishigakijima Resort; which features large, sleekly-designed, yet simple and functional rooms that are bright and spacious.
The resort also includes two restaurants that offer regional cuisine and continental breakfast. In addition, a bar and lounge, two pools, onsite spa and massage facilities, and open-air sitting areas are perfect spots for relaxing, reading or chatting with friends all while enjoying the crisp, refreshing ocean breeze which regularly sweeps through the space.
Okinawa Beach #7 – Aharen Beach in Tokashiki
Brilliantly situated between hilly tropical greenery is the beautiful Aharen Beach enclave, known for its stupendous volume of tropical fish, healthy coral reef, serene waters, and fine, soft, sandy beaches comfortable enough to lay and walk upon. The waters themselves are quite calm, regardless of the tide and changing weather conditions.
Unlike some of the other beaches in this article, Aharen contains a slew of onsite facilities such as changing rooms, several delicious restaurants that focus on locally-sourced, freshly caught seafood, stores and gift shops, and rental facilities for divers/snorkelers/and kayakers who are interested in getting up close and personal with the beach’s exquisite, plentiful marine life (or just enjoy a fun day at the beach). Stores also offer umbrella rentals, beach chairs and plush, inflatable furniture to lounge around in the sun! In addition, this beach has its own lifeguard which is an added bonus if visiting with young children.
Aharen beach is accessible by ferry through Zamami island. The ride to Tokashiki island is 70-minutes long and tickets cost around 3,000 yen; though the price and time it takes to travel here are definitely worth it. Tickets are only available for purchase with cash at the ticketing office in Tomari Harbour.
Though some beach-goers have remarked that the grounds can become a little overcrowded, especially during peak season, visiting this emerald jewel during low season or during the winter months may be advisable if you seek to beat the crowds and claim this gem as exclusively yours. Make sure to check advisories ahead of time concerning jellyfish, as certain seasons are known for a high concentration of poisonous jellyfish that wander the reefs.
Recommended resort – Marine Palace
A quick four-minute walk from Aharen Beach is Marine Palace; an unassuming, affordable and homey accommodation that is centrally located next to shops, restaurants and great beaches. It is run by a mother and son team who go out of their way in order to ensure your experience is a wonderful one. Delicious, traditional Japanese cuisine is prepared by the mom, while the son will pick you up from the airport and offer to drive you to any destination you may want to visit. The rooms are clean, minimal and serve as a great base of operations during your stay at this popular Okinawa beach.
Japan may not be well-known around the world for its magnificent, sublime beaches like some places in Thailand or in the Philippines. Perhaps it is for this reason that the beaches of Okinawa remain well-kept secrets; like hidden jewels just waiting to be discovered. For those who seek a little slice of heaven on earth, emerald seas, lush, tropical vegetation, and soft, sandy beaches, the islands and beaches in Okinawa await your arrival!