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Top 10 Islands Around Okinawa - A Guide For Beach Lovers!

Top 10 Islands Around Okinawa - A Guide For Beach Lovers!
Germaine
Germaine
Updated

Can’t get enough of island life? This article has got you covered. Okinawa is home to 150 different islands, some of which have the most beguiling beaches with cerulean blue waters and pristine white sands! Some of the best islands in the Ryukyu archipelago with the best attractions are highlighted here to help you plan your island hopping itinerary, or if you are simply taking a day trip to a peaceful, seaside getaway!

*“Jima” and “Shima” mean an island in Japanese.

Okinawa islands

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1. Swim in seas of sapphire - Tokashiki Jima

Map Location

Why visit? - Largest Kerama Island - “Kerama blue” waters!

Okinawa is home to many stunning beaches, and those on the Kerama Islands are special because of their distinctively cobalt blue waters, such that people call the colour of water “Kerama Blue”. If there is one Kerama Island you have to visit, it has to be the largest one, Tokishima Jima.

The best places to admire the Kerama blue waters are Tokashiki Beach and Aharen Beach. Moreover, a short stay at Aharen beach will definitely not disappoint. Enjoy stunning views of the crystal clear waters and blue skies in the day, and at night, gaze upon the milky way in the sky!

Some recommended accommodations include the Southern Cross, a humble inn on Aharen beach where you can sleep under the stars and wake up to spectacular ocean views, and Kerama-so, a simple minshuku in the village with excellent service.

Aharen Beach

Address: Aharen | Agaren Beaches, Tokashiki, Shimajiri-gun, Okinawa Prefecture

Duration: around 2 hours required.

Access: From Tokyo, take a 3-hour flight from Haneda to Naha airport. Then, take a 35-minute high-speed ferry ride on the Marine Liner Tokashiki from Tomari Port (Naha city in Okkinawa Island).

Contact: +81 98-987-2321

Tokashiki Village Okinawa

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2. Walk on snow white sand - Kume Jima

Map Location

Why visit? - White sand beaches. - Stunning sandbar beach! - Explore the Okinawan culture.

If you want pristine, untouched, white sand beaches, sail straight for Kume Jima! Explore gorgeous beaches and the Okinawan culture on Kume Jima. The entire island could probably be covered in a day, as the distance from one end of the island to the other is less than 10 km (6.2 miles)!

Hatenohama beach is the main beach on the island, and a popular snorkelling and diving hotspot. Unlike the typical beaches, Hatenohama beach is a 7 km (4.3 miles) long sandbar in the middle of the sea! Do note that the beach is only accessible via a tour, which you can easily find all around Kume Jima.

The island itself has 2 main towns, one where most of the locals dwell near the port and the other catered to visitors, where most hotels, shops, restaurants and other attractions are located.

Hatenohama Beach

Address: Kumejima, Shimajiri District, Okinawa Prefecture

Price: from 33.50 USD for half-day tour; from 52.64 USD for full-day tour.

Opening Hours: 8.30am - 5.30pm.

Duration: half to full day.

Access: From Tokyo, take a 3-hour flight from Haneda airport (Tokyo) to Kanegusuku airport (Kumejima); From Naha, take a 4-hour ferry ride from Naha Tomari Port to Kanegusuku port.

Contact: +81 98-896-7010

Kanko Kumejima

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Miyako islands

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3. Make a splash - Miyako Jima

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Why visit? - One of the best coral reefs in Okinawa. - One of the best white sand beaches in Japan. - One of the most beautiful bridges in the world.

Miyako Jima has one of the best coral reefs in Okinawa, making it perfect for snorkelling and diving! The island is also home to the stunning Ibaru bridge, where you can drive above the turquoise ocean! The weather is usually beach-perfect all year round, though the best time to visit is from April to November when the water is nice and warm for water activities.

The popular white sand beach, Maehama (aka Yonaha-Maehama) beach, is a must visit, as it is one of the best beaches in the entire country! Spanning 7 km (4.3 miles), the beach is well suited for water activities, and a great place to watch the sunset. The beach is also fully equipped with amenities, such as toilets and rental kiosks.

Maehama beach

Address: Shimijiyonaha, Miyakojima, Okinawa Prefecture

Duration: around 2 hours required.

Access: From Tokyo, take a 3-hour flight from Haneda airport to Miyako airport; From Naha, take a 45-minute flight from Naha airport to Miyako airport.

Contact: +81 980-73-1881

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Yaeyama islands

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4. Fall in love - Kuro Shima

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Why visit? - Heart-shaped island! - Get close to the teeming wildlife on land and sea. - One of the best snorkeling places in the area.

This lovely little island is guaranteed to capture your heart! Uniquely shaped like a heart, Kuroshima is a bustling island where there are more cattle than people! Surrounding the island is the Sekisei Lagoon, the largest coral reef area in Japan where you can find some very rare species! The water is so clear here, you can visibly see the fish congregating at depths while snorkelling.

You can also find many rare species on land! Look out for the Yaeyama fruit bat, Sakisma habu, yellow-margined box turtle and pretty sea stars around the shores.

Voted one of the best snorkelling locations in the archipelago, Nakamoto beach is a pebble stone beach west of Kuroshima. Unlike the other beaches in the area, the shores are a mixture of sand, pebbles, and coral fragments.

Nakamoto beach

Address: Yaeyama-gun, Okinawa Prefecture

Duration: around 2 hours required.

Access: From Tokyo, take a 3-hour flight from Haneda airport to New Ishigaki airport. From Ishigaki, take a 25-minute ferry ride to Kuroshima island.

Contact: +81 980-82-6191

Ishigaki Japan

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5. "Moove" around town - Taketomi Jima

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An inexpensive tour of the lanes around Taketomi island, on a carriage pulled by a water buffalo. These creatures are very tame, relaxed and clever - they could steer the carriage around tight corners without hitting the coral walls. I've been to Taketomi island with my family twice, and have done this tour both times. Great fun, and nice weather in December. Glynch08

Why visit? - Visit a well preserved traditional Ryukyu village. - Ride on a buffalo cart!

Just a short distance away from Ishigaki Island is Taketomi Jima, an island housing an impressively preserved, traditional Ryukyu village! While walking around the village, you will see authentic Ryukyu style one-storied houses with red roofs and lion statues perched on top to ward off evil. Some of these houses also accommodate guests! Others house restaurants and souvenir shops.

Transport on the island is rather unique, as there are no vehicles on the island! You can walk around or rent a bicycle and cycle around the white sand roads and gorgeous beaches in the west. However, it is highly recommended to commute via Buffalo carts! You can take a 30-minute cart tour from the village, while the guides sing local songs and play traditional Okinawan music along the way!

Water Buffalo Carriage, Nitta Kanko

Address: 97 Taketomi, Yaeyama-gun, Okinawa Prefecture

Price: from 11.49 USD

Opening Hours: 8.30am - 5pm.

Duration: around 1.5 hours required.

Access: From Ishigaki island, take a 10-minute high speed ferry ride to Taketomi Island.

Contact: +81 980-85-2103

Ishigaki Japan

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6. Sail for the sweet escape - Kohama Jima

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Why visit? - Immerse in country life - Admire sugar cane fields - Great island and ocean views.

Known for being the filming location of the popular Japanese drama “Churasan”, Kohama Jima is situated between Ishigaki and Iriomote Island. The island is actually part of Taketomi Island, and is only separated by the Yonara waterway, a stunning place to see manta rays!

The island has a long history of agriculture, and cultivates mainly sugarcane and rice. If you want a great view of the entire island, head to Ufudaki at the heart of the island. From this viewpoint, you can even see most of the surrounding islands in the Iriomote National Park!

One of the best attractions in Kohama Jima is the Sugar Road, which was featured in the popular drama “Churasan”. On both sides of the road are fields of sugarcane that go for miles in all directions!

Sugar Road

Address: Yaeyama-gun, Okinawa Prefecture

Duration: around 2 hours required.

Access: From Tokyo, take a 3-hour flight from Haneda airport to New Ishigaki airport. From Ishigaki, take a 25-minute ferry ride to Kohama Island.

Contact: +81 980-73-8739

Kohamajima

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7. Submerge in serenity - Hatoma Jima

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Why visit? - Peaceful, quiet sanctuary. - Experience rural island life!

With only 50 inhabitants on the island, Hatoma Jima is a small, peaceful sanctuary where everything is within walking distance! Though less than a kilometer (0.6 mile) wide, Hatoma Jima has much to offer! You can find 3 main hotels/inns (Minshuku Aozoraso, Kusikeya and Pension Maitoze), white sand beaches, clear waters and an abundance of gorgeous island views on the island. Colloquially known as “Patouma”, Hatoma Jima is the ultimate escape for those seeking some quiet time!

You can go snorkelling and admire the wildlife at the huge coral reefs, lounge under the shady palm trees, check out the gargantuan Banyan trees in the north and discover a rustic lighthouse! Do note that the island is very dark at night, so do bring along a flashlight if you are catching the sunset by the beach!

Hatoma Island

Address: Hatoma Island, Okinawa Prefecture

Duration: Full day.

Access: From Iriomote Island, take a ferry ride from Heisei-maru or ariyushi.

Contact: +81 9808-2-5445

Japan Guides

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8. Explore the wild side - Iriomote Jima

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Why visit? - Get back to nature! - Explore the jungles. - Go on a river cruise.

Part of the Iriomote National Park, Iriomote Island is a gorgeous island covered with lush jungles and mangrove forests. The island is perfect for getting back to nature by going kayaking along the Urauchi river, fishing, sailing, snorkelling and diving. The best place to dive here is at Manta Way, where manta rays flock to! There are plenty of activities to do on the island itself, such as hiking and trekking. Look out for the Yamaneko wildcat, a species you can find only on Iriomote Island!

The best way to tour around the island is to take a river cruise along the Urauchi river, where you can admire the mangrove forests and jungles. After an hour long cruise, you will be guided through the jungle to astonishing natural sights, including 2 waterfalls!

Urauchi River Cruise

Address: 3-4, Hamasaki-cyo, Ishigaki-city, Okinawa Prefecture

Price: from 17.23 USD

Opening Hours: 9am - 3.30pm.

Duration: around 2 hours required.

Access: from Ishigaki, take a 40-minute high speed ferry ride to Ohara port or a 50-minute high speed ferry ride to Uehara port.

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9. Float on emeralds - Ishigaki Jima

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Why visit? - Okinawa’s second-largest city. - Hike at the tallest mountain in the Okinawa prefecture. - Wildlife watching at the stunning Kabira Bay.

Ishigaki Jima is the archipelago’s main island, and home to the area’s only urban city and the second-largest city in Okinawa! Ishigaki Jima has plenty of hotels, restaurants, bars and shops to spend time at! Moreover, you can hang out at the beaches or go snorkelling and diving. There are plenty of activities further inland too! Kayak along the rivers, or go hiking at the tallest mountain in Okinawa!

The most picturesque place in Ishigaki Island is, without a doubt, Kabira Bay. It is famous for its crystal clear, emerald waters where you can take a glass bottom boat ride around! Though diving and snorkelling are not allowed here, you can go diving at Manta Scramble near Kabira Bay. As its name suggests, the area is teeming with manta rays!

Kabira Bay

Address: 934 Kabira, Ishigaki-city, Okinawa Prefecture

Price: from 9.86 USD

Opening Hours: 9am - 5pm.

Duration: around 2 hours required.

Access: From Tokyo, take a 3 hour 25 minute flight from Haneda airport to Ishigaki airport.

Contact: +81 90-8903-4457

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Amami islands (Kagoshima prefecture)

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10. Saunter down the stellar shores - Yoron Jima

Map Location

Why visit? - Admire the pretty corals on the beach. - Beautiful ocean views. - Star sands!

Yoron Island is part of the Amami Gunto Quasi-National Park and is perfect for a seaside vacation! The weather is always warm and suitable for water sports, such as kayaking, snorkelling and kayaking! The water is always a brilliant turquoise colour, and the shores are covered with star sand; which are tiny corals resembling stars washed up on the shore!

Head to the Southern Cross Center, where you can browse through 3000-year-old artifacts and be amazed by the origin of the island (it is made entirely out of coral reefs!). For stunning panoramas of neighbouring islands, go up to the observation deck at the highest floor!

Another great attraction is the Yurigahama island, a sandbar just off the east coast that only surfaces at low tide! Snorkelling and diving are popular activities here!

Yurigahama Beach Offshore Cruise Boat

Address: Oshima-gun Yoron-cho, Kagoshima Prefecture

Price: from 28.71 USD

Duration: around 2 hours required.

Access: From Tokyo, take a 1 hour 50 minute flight from Haneda airport to Kagoshima airport, then a 1 hour 20 minute flight from Kagoshima airport to Yoron airport;

Contact: +81 997-97-5057

Yoronjima Info PDF Download

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Set sail to an island paradise!

Unlike the rest of Japan, Okinawa is one of the few places with large undeveloped lands; hence its natural beauty. Additionally, Okinawa has a sub-tropical climate and is generally warm and sunny all year round. However, the best times to visit are during the springtime from March to May and autumn from September to December!

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Germaine is a free-spirited individual who likes to write and travel. She is also a TV junkie and an animal lover. She has been to several countries, and some of her favourites include Australia,...Read more

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