The 15 Best Okinawa Beaches

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Tropical Okinawa and the southern islands are without doubt home to many of Japan's best beaches. Surrounded by warm clear water and often fringed with exotic coral reef, the white sand beaches of Okinawa seem to have been largely overlooked by the rest of the world.
Also known as the Ryukyu Islands, the Okinawa archipelago is made up of over 20 islands of varying sizes. All are located in the far south of Japan, but as you head southwards from the main island of Okinawa Honto things become increasingly tropical and much less developed.

Okinawa Island itself is home to a wealth of good beaches although many have been developed into resorts and others are in urban areas. The best of Okinawa's beaches are located on the smaller islands such as the Yaeyama, Miyako and Kerama Islands. Here the features which make Okinawa's beaches so appealing are magnified and many have a pristine, untouched feel with jungles and mangrove forest spilling down to the beach. The southern Okinawan beaches also offer world class diving with dolphins and sea turtles regularly seen along with bigger fish such as Manta rays and Whale sharks.

Whilst the beaches of the Ryukyu island chain are a tropical paradise, with this come a couple of things to be aware of. Firstly, time your visit; whilst it is never cold here October is Typhoon season and things can get a little hairy. The other thing to watch out for at Okinawa's beaches is the Habu Jellyfish - a small box jellyfish. These are more prevalent in the summer months and can deliver a dangerous sting.

  • 1. Aharen Beach

    Aharen Beach
    © Sean Pavone / 123RF

    Aharen Beach is situated on the west coast of Tokashiki Island, part of the Kerama group an hour's boat trip from Okinawa's main city, Naha. The curving white sand bay here is backed by high hills covered in lush vegetation leaving little doubt that you are in the tropics. Just off the shore, under the clear, aquamarine water is coral reef making Aharen a great spot for snorkeling and diving.

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  • 2. Sunayama Beach

    Sunayama Beach
    © Tagstock Japan

    Sunayama is situated in the north of Miyako-jima Island which is part of Japan's tropical Okinawa Prefecture. This pleasant little white sand beach is immediately identifiable by the rock arch at the southern end of the beach. The arch was formed by the exposed coral reef being eroded by the sea over the centuries.
    Besides the arch, Sunayama beach's main feature is its powdery white sand, and the sheer… read more »

  • 3. Akajima Beach

    Akajima Beach
    © JordyMeow / CC BY

    Akajima, pronounced Akashima, is an island forming part of the Kerama Islands group in Japan's Okinawa Prefecture. Nicknamed "Aka", this is a popular holiday destination from both Okinawa and the mainland. Situated roughly midway between the northern tip of Taiwan and mainland Japan's southern-most point, Aka enjoys a near tropical climate. It has a permanent population of just over 300 residents which it shares with its southern neighbour, Geruma Island.… read more »

  • 4. Sunset Beach

    Sunset Beach
    Calvin Ge
    Great for:
    • Swimming

    Sunset beach is situated next to the Mihama American Village, a shopping centre and entertainment complex about 40 minutes north of Naha. This artificial beach has a fairly urban backdrop including the high-rise Beach Tower Okinawa hotel. Perhaps the most notable feature though is the giant ferris wheel that looms over the American Village.

    There are plenty of facilities at the beach and the water is shallow with lifeguards on duty,… read more »

  • 5. Ama Beach

    Ama Beach
    Hashi photo
    Great for:
    • Snorkeling

    The beautiful Ama Beach is located on Zamami Island, one of the pristine Kerama islands just west of Okinawa. It takes between one and two hours to get to Zamami from Naha on the main island, but it is more than worth it.

    Visitors to the island tend to gravitate to Furuzamami Beach, which is located about 10 minutes walk from the ferry terminal. Head in the opposite direction and… read more »

  • 6. Tokashiku Beach

    Tokashiku Beach
    © Snap55 / CC BY

    Tokashiku beach is a beautiful white sand beach on the island of Tokashiki, one of the Kerama Islands about 32 km (20 miles) west of Okinawa island. The crystal clear waters off the beach here are regarded as one of the best places to spot sea turtles, which along with many species of tropical fish inhabit the bay here. 

    Besides the turtles, the snorkelling off Tokashiku beach isn't the greatest in Okinawa. The reefs close… read more »

  • 7. Maehama Beach

    Maehama Beach
    © eyeblink / 123RF

    Yonaha Maehama is often cited as Japan's best beach and it is easy to see why. The fine white sand of this beach stretches seven kilometres around the south west coast of Miyakojima island. Here the water is warm, calm and crystal clear with a hint of brilliant green / blue.

    Despite its tropical appearance this is not a desert island beach and there are plenty of facilities from lifeguards… read more »

  • 8. Emerald Beach

    Emerald Beach
    © shihina / 123RF

    Emerald beach is located on the tip of the Motobu Peninsula in the north of Okinawa's main island, Honto. The name comes from the beautiful greeny-turquoise colour of the clear waters here which are every bit as clean as they look. Emerald beach is actually part of the Ocean Expo Park which extends for 3km along the coast containing such things as a "native Okinawan village" and botanical garden. The… read more »

  • 9. Furuzamami Beach

    Furuzamami Beach
    © Hashi photo / CC BY

    Furuzamami Beach is located on the island of Zamami which is located around an hour's high speed ferry ride from the main island of Okinawa. Most would agree it is well worth the journey and the beach is regularly rated as one of Japan's finest.

    This tropical beach is graced with a wide, gently curving stretch of powder white sand fringed with coral reefs in the crystal clear water. Being in… read more »

  • 10. Kondoi Beach

    Kondoi Beach
    © maru0522 / CC BY

    Set on Taketomi island, one of the most southerly in Japan, Kondoi beach is well within the tropics. The small island is much less built up than its neighbour Ishigaki, which is the de facto capital of the Yaeyama Islands. From here you can catch a ferry which takes less than half an hour to get you over to Taketomi.

    Kondoi beach is found on the most westerly point of the… read more »

  • 11. Nishihama Beach

    Nishihama Beach
    © iloverjoa / CC BY

    Nishihama Beach is found on Hateruma, the most southerly inhabited island in all of Japan. This remote slice of tropical paradise lives up to expectations with Nishihama consistently topping out the polls on Japan's best beaches.

    Given the island is sometimes referred to as "Hateruma Blue" it is little surprise the waters are a crystal clear azure in colour. Combined with powdery white sands which seem to stretch on for ever and safe… read more »

  • 12. Mibaru Beach

    Mibaru Beach
    © inf_supTJ

    Mibaru is one of the finest beaches on the island of Okinawa itself. The long stretch of white sand leading into the crystal clear turquoise ocean will is a familiar them with the beaches in Japan's tropical south, but what makes Mibaru stand out are the various rock formations along its length. At lower tides these greenery-topped rocks form part of the landscape of rockpools and coral beyond the sshoreline, whilst as… read more »

  • 13. Aragusuku Beach

    Aragusuku Beach
    © eyeblink

    Located just around the corner from Yoshino Beach is the lesser, but equally lovely, Aragusuku Beach. This beach is yet another Okinawan gem with white sands gently sloping into the shallow tropical sea before yielding to colorful coral reefs. This makes it a popular spot with tourists and locals alike who come here to take advantage of the beautiful scenery and safe bathing.

    Where Aragusuku really comes into its… read more »

  • 14. Minna Island Beach

    Minna Island Beach
    Great for:
    • Snorkeling

    Situated just 15 minutes boat ride from Okinawa's main island is the tiny coral fringed island of Minna. Sometimes referred to as the "Croissant Island" owing to its distinctive crescent shape, Minna is known for its beautiful white sand beach and the exceptionally clear blue water. Combined with a backdrop of greenery and you could be mistaken for thinking you were in the Caribbean.

    With such an abundance of coral and… read more »

  • 15. Naminoue Beach

    Naminoue Beach
    Great for:
    • Swimming

    Amongst the many dazzling white sand beaches dotted throughout the clear turquoise waters of this archipelago Naminoue Beach is one of our favourites, but not for the usual reasons. It does have nice soft sand, and the water is that same emerald-blue you find throughout Okinawa, but we like it for its quirkiness and its convenience.

    Naminoue Beach is located in the city of Naha, Okinawa's capital, and is pretty easy… read more »