Okinawa is a stunning chain of 20 islands in southern Japan that are covered in white powdery sand and surrounded by bright blue waters. The beaches here range from developed stretches full of fun resorts and beachside restaurants to undeveloped smaller islands covered in tropical forests and abundant natural beauty.
Okinawa is the perfect place to go for your next trip if you are someone who likes sunbathing on long expanses of white sand, snorkeling on coral reefs, or scuba diving. It is even a great place to stay for a while if you are a digital nomad or just working remotely away from the busy cities. To get some ideas for your trip, check out the top 5 beaches in Okinawa below.
The best time to visit Okinawa is in spring (March, April, and May) or late autumn (November and December). It’s also possible to visit during the summer and early autumn. In summer, you’ll need to be on the lookout for box jellyfish and August til October is the rainy season when tropical storms (Typhoons) can develop suddenly.
🌴1. Mibaru Beach—Calm Waters with Striking Rock Formations
Mibaru Beach is located on Honto Island which is the largest in the chain and is often considered to be the “main island”. Because of this, beautiful Mibaru is pretty easy to reach and requires much less travel time than some of the beaches on more remote islands.
Mibaru is one of the best beaches in Okinawa not only because of its white sand and turquoise waters but also because of the interesting rock formations scattered along the beach. As you can imagine, this makes for incredible photos. This 2-kilometer-long beach also has very shallow and calm waters making it the perfect place to relax with children.
The clear and gentle waters of Mibaru Beach also contain a lively coral reef which can be explored with a snorkel. Another popular way to see the colorful reef life is by hiring a glass-bottom boat to take you out across the water.
Mibaru Beach is the best of both worlds and is a developed beach that is easily accessible but is not too touristy. Here you can participate in fun beach activities like jet skiing and kayaking. If you want to relax you will also be able to find a little secluded area for yourself along the expansive shore.
How to Get to Mibaru Beach
Mibaru Beach address: Hyakuna-1346 Tamagusuku, Nanjo, Okinawa 901-0603, Japan
🌴2. Nishihama Beach—Untouched Beauty and Stargazing
Nishihama Beach is located on Hateruma Island which is the southmost inhabited island in Okinawa and all of Japan. This beach often ranks as the best in Japan for its natural beauty and untouched secluded atmosphere.
Nishihama is very famous for its clear waters that are known as “Haterama Blue” and are full of so many different rich shades of blue and green that it will take your breath away. Like many of Okinawa’s best beaches, this is also a great place for snorkeling.
The easiest way to reach Nishihama is to take an hour-long speed boat from Ishigaki. This island is less developed than many others in Okinawa and is more difficult to reach. If you are visiting for a day trip you should pack your own food and snacks. The beach has some vending machines, but the restaurants are all a 10-minute walk away.
Although you can visit Nishihama on a day trip, staying the night is a magical experience. This island is the best place in Japan for stargazing. Travelers can take in the beauty of the stars from the beach or head to the observatory on the southern tip of the island.
How to Get to Nishihama Beach
Nishihama Beach address: Hateruma, Taketomi, Yaeyama District, Okinawa 907-1751, Japan
🌴3. Emerald Beach—Sea Turtles and the Ocean Expo Park
Emerald Beach is the best place to go for people who like more active beach vacations. This beach is located on Okinawa’s main island inside the Ocean Expo Park.
The beach is not only beautiful with its emerald green waters but also has plenty of things to do including visiting the world-renowned aquarium and activities like beach volleyball, water sports, snorkeling, or hanging out in the souvenir shop.
Emerald Beach is probably the best beach in Okinawa for active families. While the kids go entertain themselves with endless beach activities, parents can head to the sunbathing section of the beach to relax.
In the typical super organized Japanese style, this beach is divided into three sections: one for swimming, one for relaxing, and one for taking in the scenery. Each section is around 150 meters long. Emerald Beach has every amenity to make your stay comfortable including beach umbrellas, chairs, showers, and lockers.
Besides being a great place to vacation, this beach is also important for local wildlife, especially the sea turtles that lay their eggs here. On a wildlife tour, guides will often point out turtle nests and once a year travelers can participate in the Sea Turtles Return to the Ocean interactive activity.
How to Get to Emerals Beach
Emerald Beach address: 424 Azaishikawa, Motobu, Kunigami District, Okinawa 905-0206, Japan
🌴4. Yonaha Maehama Beach—7 Kilometers of White Sand
Maehama Beach is located on Miyako Island and is truly a paradise of white sand and jewel-colored water. This beach is often called Japan’s best beach for its natural beauty. Although Miyako is a small island, the beach has plenty of facilities like showers, beach chairs, umbrellas, and lifeguards to make sure that your beach relaxation is comfortable, fun, and safe.
This beach is pretty popular among locals and foreigners. Luckily, with its 7-kilometer length, you’ll always be able to find a secluded area to relax. Also, make sure to bring your snorkel to check out the nearby reef.
Although Maehama looks like an undeveloped tropical paradise, families will have no problem finding things to do from jet skiing and banana boating to checking out the nearby botanical garden and two other islands that are connected to Miyako via a bridge. On Kima Island, travelers can explore the Ryugu Observatory.
How to Get to Maehama Beach
Yonaha Maehama Beach address: Yonaha-1199, Shimoji, Miyakojima, Okinawa 906-0000, Japan
🌴5. Nishibama Beach—The Nature Lover’s Paradise
Nishibama Beach (not to be confused with Nishihama) is located on Aka Island which is accessible by ferry from Okinawa’s main island. This is the perfect beach for travelers who are looking for a secluded island experience that is still relatively easy to get to.
Aka Island only has 300 residents and the best way to explore is by rented bicycle. The waters surrounding the island including those at Nishibama Beach are full of healthy reefs with a colorful diversity of wildlife. This is a great area for snorkeling and even better for scuba diving.
Nishibama Beach is part of a nature reserve so snorkeling is restricted to specific areas to protect the local sea critters. Whale watchers should make sure to visit this beach from December to April to get a chance to glimpse mating humpback whales.
One thing you should definitely see on Aka Island is the adorable statue of a little dog named Shiro. In the 1980s, this little pup swam 3 kilometers every day to Zamami Island to spend time with a female dog named Marilyn. Her statue can be found on Zamami Island looking out across the water towards Shiro.
How to Get to Nishibama Beach
Nishibama Beach address: Aka, Zamami, Shimajiri District, Okinawa 901-3311, Japan