The entire prefecture of Okinawa is famous for its warm climate and beaches. While Okinawa Main Island (Okinawa Honto) is not considered to have the prefecture's very best beaches (these are found on smaller islands such as Miyako), it, nevertheless, has some attractive beaches where visitors can enjoy the sun, sand and sea. See the list below for some of the island's best beaches and snorkeling spots.
The best time to go swimming at the beach in Okinawa Honto is between May and October. From December to March the air temperatures can drop to levels below 20 degrees Celsius which many people will consider too cool for swimming. Water temperatures around Okinawa Honto never drop below 20 degrees and reach about 30 degrees during the summer months.
When using the beaches, beware of strong currents that can pull you out to sea and poisonous creatures such as Habu Jellyfish, a type of box jellyfish, which are most prevalent from June to October. Signs at the beaches inform about the dangers, while some beaches have netted off swimming areas. Although stings are rare, if stung you should pour vinegar over the sting, remove any tentacles, and seek medical help as it may become life threatening.
Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (until 19:00 in Jul and Aug; until 18:00 in Sep) Admission: Free (visitors pay 500 yen for facilities during main season)
Manza Beach is an attractive beach with soft sand. It is part of the ANA InterContinental Manza Beach Resort whose large hotel building overlooks the entire 300 meter long beach. A wide range of facilities and activities are offered to staying guests and daytime visitors.
Admission: 1000 yen Parking: 1000 yen (free from November to March)
Moon Beach is an attractive sand beach located within the grounds of Hotel Moon Beach. The beach extends 150 meters and is often quite densely covered with bathers. There is a designated swimming area, spots for parasols and volleyball nets. The hotel offers many facilities and water activities to staying guests and daytime visitors.
Hours: 9:00 to 18:00 (until 17:00 November to February) Admission: 1500 yen
Okuma Beach is an attractive beach that belongs to the Okuma Private Beach & Resort. Located in Okinawa Honto's less densely populated north, the resort area is more spread out and the beach stretches over a kilometer along the coast. Many facilities and water activities are offered to staying guests and daytime visitors.
Emerald Beach (Ocean Expo Park)
Swimming season: April to October Hours: 8:30 to 19:00 (until 17:30 in October) Admission and parking: Free
Emerald Beach is one of many attractions spread out the Ocean Expo Park on the Motobu Peninsula. The beach is divided into three areas: one for playing, one for resting and one for viewing. Each of the three areas is about 150 meters long. A number of facilities and water activities are available to visitors.
Swimming season: late April to September Admission: Free (use of facilities 500 yen from Jul to Sep) Parking: 500 yen
Located on the southeastern shore of Okinawa Honto, Mibaru Beach stretches well over a kilometer along the shoreline, although some sections of the beach are rather rough. Accommodation and various facilities are available at the beach, but are much simpler than those found at the above listed beaches.
Swimming season: April to October Hours: 9:00 to 18:00 Admission and parking: Free (200 yen to use showers)
Zampa Beach is an attractive beach in central Okinawa Honto that stretches about 200 meters along the western coast. The beach consists of a designated swimming area, spots for parasols and volleyball nets. There are a number of facilities and water activities available to visitors.
Swimming season: mid April to October Hours: 9:00 to 17:30 (July and August until 18:00) Admission and parking: Free
Sunset Beach is located just next to the Mihama American Village, a shopping and entertainment complex in central Okinawa Honto. The beach has about 250 meters of shoreline and is located in a small artificial bay on the western shore, making it a good spot to see the sunset. There are many facilities and spots for holding barbecues.
The sea life along the shores of Okinawa Honto is not quite as colorful as around some of Okinawa's smaller islands. Nevertheless, there are a few nice snorkeling spots.
Hours: 7:00 to 19:00 Admission: Free Parking: 100 yen per hour
Cape Maeda is located in central Okinawa Honto and is the most popular spot for snorkeling and diving on the island, often busy with groups of snorkelers and divers. Maeda's popularity is well founded, as there is a wide variety of marine life in the area, as well as a cave that you can swim into. Good facilities are located at the site.
Admission and parking: Free
Odo Kaigan Coast (also known as John Man Beach) near the southern tip of Okinawa Honto offers interesting snorkeling with smaller crowds of people. While the marine life is not quite as dense as at Cape Maeda, a wide variety of creatures and plants can be found. Odo Kaigan is mostly rough and rocky, and facilities are limited.
Getting there and around
Manza Beach is connected directly with Naha by bus number 120 (100 minutes, 1420 yen from Naha Bus Terminal or 110 minutes, 1510 yen from Naha Airport; 2 buses/hour) and airport limousine bus (60 minutes, 1630 yen from Naha Bus Terminal or 75 minutes, 1730 yen from Naha Airport; every 1-2 hours). Get off at Manza Beach-mae (万座ビーチ前). By car, it takes about 50 minutes (more during rush hours) from Naha if using the expressway between Naha and Yaka IC (700 yen one way).
Moon Beach is connected directly with Naha by bus number 120 (90 minutes, 1210 yen from Naha Bus Terminal, or 100 minutes, 1320 yen from Naha Airport; 2 buses/hour) and airport limousine bus (55 minutes, 1430 yen from Naha Bus Terminal or 65 minutes, 1530 yen from Naha Airport; every 1-2 hours). Get off at Moon Beach-mae (ムーンビーチ前). By car, it takes about 50 minutes (more during rush hours) from Naha if using the expressway between Naha and Ishikawa IC (650 yen one way).
Take highway bus number 111 or 117 or the Yanbaru Express from Naha to Nago Bus Terminal (80 minutes, 1650-2140 yen from Naha Bus Center; 95 minutes, 1650-2230 yen from Naha Airport; 1-2 buses/hour) and transfer to bus number 67 to Okuma Beach Iriguchi (奥間ビーチ入口, 60 minutes, 1030 yen, hourly). Note that between Naha and Nago the Yanbaru Express is cheaper than the other buses and that it stops at the Kencho Kitaguchi bus stop instead of the Naha Bus Center. By car, it takes about two hours from Naha if using the expressway between Naha and Nago (1040 yen one way).
Take bus number 50 or 51 from Naha Bus Terminal to Hyakuna Bus Terminal (百名バスターミナル, 60 minutes, 730 yen, 1-2 buses/hour), from where the beach can be reached in a 15 minute walk. By car, it takes about 40 minutes from central Naha.
Take an airport limousine bus from Naha to Royal Hotel Okinawa Zanpamisaki next to the beach (ロイヤルホテル残波岬; 75 minutes, 1430 yen from Naha Bus Terminal or 85 minutes, 1530 yen from Naha Airport; every 2 hours). Alternatively, take bus number 28 from Naha Bus Terminal to Yomitan Bus Terminal (読谷バスターミナル, 80 minutes, 1100 yen, 3-4 buses/hour) from where it is a 45 minute walk to the beach. By car it takes about 70 minutes from central Naha.
Take bus 120 from Naha to Yamada (山田; 80 minutes, 1110 yen from Naha Bus Terminal, or 90 minutes, 1200 yen from Naha Airport; 2 buses/hour), from where Cape Maeda can be reached in a 20-30 minute walk. By car, it takes about 50 minutes (more during rush hours) from Naha if using the expressway between Naha and Ishikawa IC (650 yen one way).
Take bus number 89 from Naha Bus Terminal to Itoman Bus Terminal (糸満バスターミナル, 60 minutes, 580 yen, departures every 10 minutes) and transfer to bus number 82. Get off at Seimei Byōin-mae (晴明病院前, 25 minutes, 440 yen, 1 bus/hour), from where the coast can be reached in a 10-15 minute walk. By car, it takes about 45 minutes from central Naha.