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. It’s a beach-lover’s dream.
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: a snorkelling paradise
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.
Best for: walking barefoot
We weren’t sure we believed it when we heard about the star-shaped sand, or ‘Hoshi no suna’ on Yurigahama beach. But 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 said by locals to bring life-long happiness—could this beach get any dreamier?
Best for: starry sands
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.
Best for: a desert island experience
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.
Best for: rare rock formations
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.
Best for: a hidden beauty spot