There are so many beautiful beaches in Okinawa, it would take weeks to explore them all. Month, if you want to include beaches that are not on the main island.
I remember being struck by how beautiful the beaches in Okinawa were the first time I saw them. The water was clear and warm, and there were so many different types of fish.
Here are five memorable beaches in Okinawa that I went to during my first trip there. They are all part of the main island or else a short boat ride or bridge away to a small island.
While some beaches in Okinawa require you to pay just to access them, I couldn’t bring myself to pay to play in the ocean. Thus, all of the beaches on this list are free to enter! Though you often have to pay to rent an umbrella or water floaties.
I’m not sure what would be the difference if you visited a paying beach. Maybe the water is cleaner or there are better services, like showers and food stall.
Anyway, on to the list.
1.Sunset Beach, Chatan
Sunset beach is very popular, and as the name implies, is a great place to watch the sunset.
It’s also convenient because there is a big Aeon mall and outdoor shopping area, called American Village, with many restaurants and clothing boutiques. The Beach Tower Okinawa Hotel looks directly over the ocean.
You can pick up a lot of Okinawa souvenirs here before you leave, and expect to see a lot U.S. Military personnel. If you’re not into seeing U.S. Military personnel, you might want to avoid this beach. But I don’t recommend that. It’s too nice a place to hang out.
Sunset beach is about 40 minutes from Naha and has free parking at the mall. This makes it very popular, since parking is scarce. However, there’s no guarantee that you won’t spend any money on food or shopping. At the beach, you can swim, sunbathe, beach barbecue, and more.
You should only stay within the netted area of the water. Don’t go into the wild ocean – there are poisonous jellyfish and probably currents.
Kourijima beach is accessible by a long bridge – the longest bridge in Okinawa. It is north of Nago, so if you are coming from Naha, it will take two hours to get there. However, the scenery is worth it.
The island is becoming more popular (since it is easy to access because of the bridge) and a little busy, and the beach is not huge.
But the ocean is clear, and you can see lots of fish in the water. This might be my favourite beach on the main island.
The swimming area is not fenced off though, so you have to be careful about jellyfish. And from the beach you can really see how long the bridge is.
Kourijima is a great place to snorkel, and you can wade out very far from shore.
3. Minnajima “Croissant Island”
Minnajima is often called Croissant Island because the shape of it is like a croissant from above.
The waters here are crystal clear, and is also a great place for fish watching. It is also close to Nago, and you can take ferry from nearby Motobu port close to Nago.
You can rent an umbrella, and you should rent an umbrella because the sun might kill you, except not actually. It’s very hot in the summer though. It’s also really crowded. Make sure you bring sunscreen as well.
The swimming area is fenced off, and the whole island is surrounded by corals and fishes. You can explore the rest of the island on foot and get away from the crowd, or rent different water sport thingies. The other side of the island is not so pretty though.
Minnajima might not be the best place if you don’t want to be surrounded by other people.
4. Hamahiga beach
I think Hamahiga beach is a bit of a secret beach that only the local people know about. It’s close to Okinawa city on the east side of the main island of Okinawa.
It’s not so crowded, and the water is not fenced off or as clear as some of the other beaches.
You also need to watch out for jellyfish here, and there is no lifeguard.
I think a lot of local people come here to have barbecues, play soccer, and just hang out. There’s a small free parking area just beside the beach. The times that I have been to Hamahiga, there were only a few other people on the beach, and mostly having barbecues or playing soccer on the sand.
My husband used to come here when he was younger to play soccer and barbecue with his friends.
5. Emerald Beach
Emerald beach is in the northern part of Okinawa, past Nago and very close to the Churaumi Aquarium and the Ocean Expo Park.
I regret to say that I didn’t actually go to this beach to swim or hang out because we were busy doing other things that day. Maybe another time.
I only got to drive past it a couple times while we stopped for pictures.
BONUS: Sesoko beach
Sesoko beach is also in the northern part of Okinawa main island, about a 30-minute drive from Nago. It is on Sesoko Island and can be accessed by a short bridge.
While I did come to this beach, I didn’t have any swimwear or water-playing activities. It was more of a stop through on the way to the aquarium.
I did walk in the water a bit and find a sea star.
The water at Sesoko beach is clear (expected), and there are lifeguards on duty to intervene in any water-related mishaps. I would have liked to spend more time here because it was not so crowded.
And there you have a short list of beautiful beaches in Okinawa.
This list of
5 6 beaches in Okinawa is far from being complete.
There are so many beautiful places to explore, whatever you are looking for – white sandy beaches, isolated corners, and rocky cliffs.
Whatever your tastes are, you are sure to find a place with lovely sand, clear blue waters, water wildlife, and some of the most stunning scenery you have seen in your life.
Keep in mind, the beaches are not really swimmable all year long. Okinawa winters are not warm enough to play in the ocean.
Beach season is from around April 1 to the end of October. If you come outside of that time, sure you will be able to go to the beach, but there won’t be any lifeguards. And you might be told to get out of the water. It will be too cold anyway.
Come in the summer time!
Thanks for reading. Let me know in the comments below your favourite beaches in Okinawa if you have been to any. Or, if you have not been to Okinawa, your favourite beach anywhere in the world.