Mention to friends and family that you’re heading to Japan and you can guarantee they’ll be thinking of bright neon lights and 24-hour cities. But Okinawa is a far cry from urban Tokyo life. A collection of around 160 isles make up Okinawa’s full beach itinerary, all luscious pockets of wilderness fringed by gloriously white beaches and bright turquoise seas. In short Okinawa is a beach-lover’s dream. Here’s a few of our favourite beach spots.
Best for: a snorkelling paradise
The alabaster sands of this sweep of white on the small Zamami Island are the perfect spot for an afternoon of recharging and exploring the gorgeous coral reefs that lie just beyond. The close reef makes Furuzamami perfect for snorkelling since the water is almost impossibly clear.
Best for: walking barefoot
This is one of Okinawa’s show-stoppers. Hateruma Island is the southernmost inhabited island in the whole of Japan—but it’s worth the trip because its remote location means this delightful swoop of truly golden sand is kept in pristine condition. What’s more, there’s about a kilometre of dry sand, so it’s perfect for romantic barefoot strolls that seem to never end. Pure beach bliss.
Best for: starry sands
We pride ourselves on being beach experts, and we have to admit even we were disbelieving when we heard about the star-shaped sand, or ‘Hoshi no suna’ on Yurigahama beach. Take it from us: it’s real: hundreds and thousands of miniscule cosmic grains form mini star shapes on this fairy-tale beach, which only reveals itself when tides are low. A souvenir star-shaped grain is also said by locals to bring life-long happiness—could this beach get any dreamier? We think not.
Best for: a desert island experience
Another of our far-flung favourites is the offshore Hatenohama, a sliver of sand reachable by boat only. Its remote location on Okinawa’s Kume Island keeps most crowds at bay, so you can spend a day lazing on your own private strip of sand for a day. Every beach lover’s fantasy.
Best for: rare rock formations
Your Instagram account will thank you for a taking a trip to Miyako Island’s signature beach. The coral arch on Sunayama Beach is perfectly formed for striking those envy-inducing beach poses. The walk to reach it is lovely too, so leave lots of time for wandering and weaving across the tussock-topped dunes.
Best for: a hidden beauty spot
Calling this beach picturesque is an understatement. One of Miyako island’s charming lesser-known gems, the sands of Aragusuku are criss-crossed by delightful vines of Morning Glory, the purple flowers of which pepper the lovely curve of white that leads into the sea. A beach-side snack shack also sets up shop in the summer months in case you get peckish.