Okinawa Beach: a view of turquoise waters and a long stretch of white sand beach
Beaches,  Road Less Traveled,  The Pacific Islands

The Best Okinawa Beach on 5 Paradise Islands of Japan

As I sat in my window seat on a flight to Okinawa and was immersed in my mystery novel, the pilot made an announcement that we were beginning our descent to Naha, the capital of Okinawa.

I casually looked out the window, and couldn’t believe what I saw.  

There were clusters of islands with white sandbars floating in the turquoise blue sea, and all I remember thinking was, “is this Japan!?”

As it turned out, Okinawa was more breathtaking than I ever could have dreamed.  

After spending 2 weeks exploring the idyllic Okinawa islands and being blown away by the beach scene, I was inspired to put together this travel guide to highlight some of the best Okinawa beaches so that I can share it with my fellow travelers and beach lovers!

If you are looking for a paradise getaway in Asia, be sure to put Okinawa on the top of your destination list.   In case you don’t take my word for it, I hope that this post will convince you that Okinawa is Japan’s best hidden secret.

In this post, you will learn about the most beautiful Okinawa beach on five major islands (Naha, Aka, Zumami, Tokashiki, and Taketomi), and helpful tips such as when to go, what to expect, and how to access these paradise islands of Japan.  

a view of the okinawa islands from the plane above
The aerial view of the chain of Okinawa islands

Best time to go to Okinawa

May to October

Despite the sub-tropical climate, Okinawa can experience air temperatures dropping below 20C (68F) in the winter, which is a bit cold for swimming.   If beach bumming and island hopping is your primary reason for your travel, I’d recommend that you visit Okinawa between May to October.

Some beaches will allow access throughout the year but restrict swimming only to the summer months, particularly in Naha.  

TRAVEL TIP:  Okinawa is a popular domestic vacation destination, making it very crowded during two main Japanese holidays: the Golden Week (generally in early May) and Obon (around the second week in August). 

I recommend that you avoid these busy periods, but if cannot, at least make bookings ahead of time so that you are not stranded without accommodations

You can find more information about the ferry and accommodation in each of the sections below.

Best Okinawa Beach on Zamami Island – Furuzamami Beach

Zamami beach and the emerald green waters
Furuzamami's crystal clear waters

There are two main beaches on a tiny island of Zamami: Ama and Furuzamami beach.   Even though Ama beach is a bit closer from the harbor in “downtown” area and the hike to the beach is easier, I found Furuzamami Beach to be more beautiful and serene.

When I first arrived at Furuzamami after a 20-minute walk from the harbor, it was love at first sight.

Perhaps it was the long span of powdery white sand that stretched in both directions for as long as I can see – or it was the perfectly clear waters that kept inviting me in as it tickled my feet on shore.  I saw only one other couple enjoying the beach, and I had the entire view to myself.

Zamami is a quaint, enchanting little island with a laid-back island vibe.  With a majority of accommodations and Izakayas (local eatery) condensed in a small “downtown” area, it’s easy to immerse yourself in the island life and feel right at home. 

If you are looking for a relaxing island getaway, head to Zamami!  I spent 3 days there and didn’t want to leave.

Aside from marine activities like scuba diving and snorkeling, the hilly island offers observation desks from which you can enjoy incredible views of the harbor and the ocean below.

Be sure to check out Takatsuki Observatory – the views from there were amazing!

The view from Takatsui Observation deck

How to Get to Zamami Island:

Zamami is accessible via boat from Tomari Port in Naha twice daily.

There are two boat options, Ferry Zamami, and Queen Zamamai.

Ferry Zamami takes about 2 hours each way, with a ticket price of ¥2120/one-way or ¥4030/roundtrip per person.  Ferry Zamami departs Tomari port at 10:00 most of the days in a given month, but it’s best to confirm before departure.     Ferries sometimes cancel due to weather.

Queen Zamami is a speedboat that takes 70 minutes each way, with a ticket price of ¥3140/one way and ¥5970/roundtrip per person.  The speedboat departs Tomari port at 09:00 and 15:00 daily.

From the Zamami harbor, you can walk (20 – 25 minutes), rent a bicycle or take a shuttle bus to the Furuzamami beach.   

The route to Zamami beach is hilly – so it may be a strenuous walk for some people.    If you prefer, you can hitch a ride on a shuttle bus from the harbor for ¥300 each way. 

the view of the surrounding islands and turquoise waters from the observation deck in Zamami Island
More stunning views of Zamami Island

Furuzamami Beach Facilities

  • Shower/bathroom
  • Beach chairs and umbrellas available for rent
  • Snorkeling equipment available for rent

Some accommodations on Zamami island rent bicycles and snorkeling gear, so you may want to check that option as well.

Best Accommodation on Zamami Island

Shima Stay Holoholo 

Centrally located in the main town, this island resort combines convenience and comfort in its clean, modern facilities.

Best Okinawa Beach on Aka Island – Nishibama Beach

Nishibama beach Okinawa Aka Island

Nishibama Beach shares much of the same qualities of Furuzamami when it comes to the size of the beach, the clarity of the ocean, the colors of the marine life, and water depth and conditions.

If the breathtaking horizon of azure color water isn’t a reason to visit this gem, Nishibama is also known to be one of the best beaches in Okinawa for snorkeling.  

You can see vibrant tropical fishes in the shallow reefs just off the shore, including butterfly fish, clownfish, damselfish, wrasse, among others.  Turtles are also seen quite often, taking naps in the shallow coral reefs and captivating and delighting the lucky guests.

Even though Nishibama Beach is said to be the least popular and crowded of the three main Kerama beaches – I didn’t find this to be true on my trip.  Perhaps due to Aka Island being the first stop off the ferry from Naha, more day-trippers seemed to fill the Nishibama Beach than Furuzamami.  

But don’t let that deter you.  If you are limited on time and looking for a day trip island destination from Naha, Nishibama Beach is definitely worth the trip!  

How to Get to Aka Island:

The same 2 boats that depart for Zamami – Ferry Zamami and Queen Zamamai – make a stop at Aka Island first.

So the boat schedule and fares are the same as that described in Zamami section.  The only difference is the trip duration:

Ferry Zamami takes about 1.5 hours each way, with a ticket price of ¥2120/one-way or ¥4030/roundtrip per person.  Ferry Zamami departs Tomari port at 10:00 most of the days in a given month, but it’s best to confirm in case of schedule changes.

Queen Zamami is a speedboat that takes 50 minutes each way, with a ticket price of ¥3140/one way and ¥5970/roundtrip per person.  The speedboat departs Tomari port at 09:00 and 15:00 daily.

From the harbor, Nishibama Beach is an easy 20-minute walk.

the crystal clear waters at Okinawa Beach in Aka Island
Need I say more....?

Nishibama Beach Facilities

  • Shower/bathroom
  • Beach chairs and umbrellas available for rent
  • Snorkeling equipment available for rent
  • There is a restaurant on site that has a good menu selection
  • Banana boats and floats

Best Accommodation on Aka Island

Hanamuro Inter-Islanders’ Hotel

This modern hotel is one of the rare beach resorts on Akajima that offers a stunning view of the ocean from your private balcony – this hotel is one of a kind!

Best Okinawa Beach on Tokashiki Island – Aharen Beach

Aharen Beach On Tokashiki Island 2009 (7373)

There are two beaches on the biggest Kerama Island of Tokashiki.  

Aharen Beach is the larger and more popular beach of the two, with an expansive view of the beautiful turquoise bay and lush, mountain ranges.

Underwater life is abundant around Tokashiki beach and beyond, and marine sports such as snorkeling and scuba diving are popular activities around the island.   You can also rent a standup paddleboard, kayak, and other floats to make full use of your beach day. 

Don’t forget to stop by the Kubandaki Observatory for a panoramic view of the coastline.  The scenery will leave you speechless!

How to Get to Tokashiki Island

Take either the Tokashiki ferry or Marine Liner from Naha’s Tomari Port.

Tokashiki ferry takes about 70 minutes each way, with a ticket price of ¥1660/one way and ¥3160/round trip per person.   The ferry departs at 10:00 daily.

Marine Liner Tokashiki takes about 35 minutes each way, with a ticket price of ¥2490/one way and ¥4740/round trip per person.  The speed ferry departs Tomari at 09:00 daily throughout the year, but the afternoon schedule changes with the season.   During the summer (March 1 to September 30), the afternoon ferry departs at 16:30, and during the winter (October 1 to February 29), it departs at 16:00.

Check this site for confirmation of ferry schedules, along with other helpful visitor information. 

Once at Tokashiki Port you can choose to walk, rent a bicycle, or take a public bus (¥400/person) to Aharen Beach.

On foot, it can take about an hour from the port to Aharen beach.   Similar to Zamami, the terrain can be hilly around the island, so it’s best to take the shuttle to get to Aharen beach.

a view of the Tokashiki ferry docked at the port
The Tokashiki Ferry

Tokashiki Beach Facilities

  • Shower/bathroom
  • Beach chairs and umbrellas available for rent
  • Snorkeling equipment available for rent
  • Nearby Restaurants

Best Accommodation on Tokashiki Island

Tokashiku Marine Villege 

Conveniently located on a beautiful beach with the ocean at your doorstep, this charming island hotel offers free shuttle service to the harbor and to Aharen beach.

Best Okinawa Beach on Ishigaki Island – Kondoi Beach

With so many beautiful beaches everywhere you go in Okinawa, it is hard to pick out the BEST one – but if I had to pick one, it would be Kondoi Beach on a tiny island of Taketomi in Ishigaki.  

Having traveled through some remote islands of SE Asia, I have seen some jaw-dropping beaches that looked like something out of a postcard.   But Kondoi beach blew me away, and I still dream about this little piece of heaven on earth. 

What makes Kondoi beach stand out from the rest is the shallow water that stretches out into the vast horizon for miles and miles on end.   And with the perfect white sand below the water, the light baby-blue ocean goes out as far as you can see.  

low tide at Zamami beach
Kondoi Beach at low tide

At low tide, the white sandbars start to surface, and it’s just a glorious sight.   You can go for long walks in this “ocean desert” and be mesmerized by the beautiful panorama all around you.

Taketomi was, admittedly, the most difficult to get to – a domestic flight from Naha to Ishigaki, followed by a short ferry ride – but let me assure you, the island was worth every penny and minute it cost to get there.  

Even though Kondoi beach alone would make this island worthy of the travel, Taketomi is so much more.  

With only a few hundred residents living on a well-preserved, traditional Ryukyu village, you’d feel like you transported back in time when you land on this tiny plot of paradise.   I am sure that this quaint, enchanting island will steal your heart as it did mine.

a cute restaurant made in Ryukyu style in Taketomi Island in Okinawa
A cute restaurant we found in Taketomi Village

How to Get to Taketomi Island

Anae Kanko Ferry takes 15 minutes to cross from Ishigaki to Taketomi, departing every 30 minutes between 07:00 to 17:30 daily.

For confirmation of boat schedules and online bookings, click here.

The island is so small that you can easily make your way around the entire island on foot.   But you can rent bicycles if you want to explore the island beyond just the beach.   I rented one for ¥1500 for the day.

from business suit to a bathing suit
Riding my rented bicycle through the Ryukyu Village

Kondoi Beach Facilities

  • Shower/bathroom
  • Beach chairs and umbrellas available for rent
  • A snack stand

Best Accommodation on Taketomi Island

Guest House Cago 

Hosted by a lovely Japanese couple, you can experience western comforts with Japanese hospitality at this charming guest house.

Best Okinawa Beach in Naha –  Tropical Beach

Ginowan Tropical Beach

As Naha being the most developed and congested of Okinawa Islands, I will be honest and say that beaches in Naha were not nearly as impressive as others.  But Tropical Beach is perhaps the most beautiful beach on the main island. 

Considering the proximity to downtown Naha, the beach is surprisingly clean, and the water is clear.  The Tropical Beach is a small protected inlet where you can enjoy calm, peaceful waters with great facilities such as BBQ, food stand, lockers and showers, and picnic areas.   The swimming area is sectioned off with a net, so you can safely enjoy the water without worrying about jellyfish stings (although I never saw any).

During the peak summer season, there are marine activities like banana boat and tube rentals.

The weekends get crowded with locals enjoying a family day out, so be sure to plan ahead and make reservations if you want to reserve a BBQ or picnic facility (required).   Below is the rental information:

BBQ Area Rental Fee

Okinawa beach_BBQ rental fee

Contact info for reservations can be found here

How to Get to Tropical Beach

  1. Taxi – 40 minutes from the Naha airport (about ¥3,500)
  2. Public Bus – From the main Naha Bus Terminal, take Bus #26 or 99 to Okinawa Convention Center. The distance is about 50-60 minutes from the main Naha Bus Terminal.

    If you are staying in Naha and traveling via public transportation, consider a day pass for bus and monorail. 

Tropical Beach Opening Hours

Okinawa beach_Tropical beach opening hours

Best Accommodation in Naha near Tropical Beach

Moon Ocean Ginowan Hotel & Residence 

Within minutes to the beach, this beach resort provides every amenity you can imagine from pools, Jacuzzis, gym, business center, with a kitchenette and living area in every room.   You can even rent a rice cooker at this hotel!

Summary

I hope the travel tips and resources provided in this post about the best Okinawa beaches helped spark an inspiration to visit this paradise in Asia!  If you are now feeling more conflicted about which is the best beach in Okinawa, worry not.   It’s hard to go wrong with any destination on this list!

Each island I visited in Okinawa was stunning beyond measure. Okinawa was definitely an unexpected surprise and my most memorable part of my trip to Asia.   Just go.  You will thank me for it!

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Things to Do in Okinawa | Paradise Beaches | You may not associate the word "paradise" with Japan, but Okinawa has some of the most stunning beaches you have ever seen! Check out this post for breathtaking sceneries in 5 major Okinawa islands, and read travel tips on how to visit this paradise in Asia! #bestbeaches #okinawajapan #paradisefound #asiadestinations #beautifuldestinations #Japan
Best Beach Vacations | Honeymoon Japan | Did you know that Japan has some of the most stunning beaches in Asia? Check out this post for some of the best beaches in 5 major Okinawa islands, and for travel tips on how to visit this paradise in Japan! #bestbeaches #okinawajapan #paradisefound #asiadestinations #beautifuldestinations #Japan

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