Get ready, get set, and hit the beach!
By Bill Charles
Winter’s now simply a word in the dictionary, as Okinawa’s temperatures are now inviting short sleeve shirts, the water is getting warmer, and practically everyone is ready for something new and adventurous.
That, of course, means a trip to a beach!
Good thing, because the beaches on Okinawa’s main island are opening, and it’s time to break out the sun tan lotion, the beach towels and loungers, and recreational toys. Manza Beach Resort was first off the block, opening earlier this month. Manza Beach Resort was the season’s first to open its white sandy beach. So did Sun Marina, and Uppama Beach in Nakijin. Chura Sun Beach in Tomigusuku City opens Monday.
Sunday’s the first really big day, though, as JAL Okuma Beach opens, as does Bibi Beach in Itoman. On April 1st there’s another spurt as Resonex Nago, Nabi Beach in Onna, and Zanpa Beach in Yomitan are ready for action, followed on the 4th by Kise Beach in Nago. Nishihara Marine Park in Nishihara opens on the 5th.
Tropical Beach in Ginowan opens April 10th, as does Sunset Beach in Chatan. Zamami Beaches on Zamami Island open the 11th. On April 18th 21st Century Forest Beach in Nago starts having visitor feet on their sands, while Azama San San Beach in Nanjo, Ikei Beach on Ikei Island in Uruma City, and Aharen Beach on Tokashiki Island are open for business the 19th.
For those who still aren’t quite ready, there’s plenty of time to get into some new swim togs or bikinis for the upcoming beach season, as Naminoue Beach in Naha City, and Miyako Maehama Beach Tokyu Resort open soon.
Military beaches at Torii Station, Okuma Joint Recreation Center, White Beach and Oura Wan at Camp Schwab are open, but life guards will not be on duty until varying dates in April. Rental equipment hours on the base facilities are limited.
There are numerous civilian and military beaches on Okinawa, many of which are extremely popular:
Azama Beach hours are 9 a.m. ~ 6 p.m. until June 30th, and from July first 9 a.m. ~ 7 p.m. It has barbeque setups for rent. Foods are available to barbeque at a cost of ¥1,000~¥1,200 per person. Reservations are required two days in advance. To visit Azama Sun Sun Beach, from Kadena Air Base get on the Okinawa Expressway at Okinawa Minami and head south to the Haebaru Minami IC. It’s a simple 20 minutes by car from there, and signs are posted.
Naminoue Beach is Naha’s pride and joy, located between the city’s two primary seaports. There are actually two beaches—one city owned, one private—available for use. The city’s Naminoue Beach is small, but safe and secure. Swimming areas are roped in and protected from water sports enthusiasts, jet skis and kayaks. Lifeguards are on duty daily from sunrise to sunset. Food stands are available within a few meters of the beach. Restrooms and showers are available, and both beaches have smooth, sandy beach. Travel south on Highway 58 to Naha, looking for signs for the right hand turn to Naminoue Beach in the heart of the city.
Araha Beach is open daily 9 a.m. ~ 6:30 p.m. this season. It’s located in Araha Park Chatan, close to Hamby areas famous for weekend night markets. Beachside promenades and a luxurious field are well maintained, and exactly what’s good for children playing beachside. It’s a popular beach both with families and couples. A full-scale sailing boat is placed in front of the beach, where white sands continue about 600 meters.
Tropical Beach is located at Ginowan Seaside Park, just south of Camp Foster. It sits next to the Okinawa Convention Center, and offers a clean beach and breakwaters area, as well as picnic tables. Barbeques are allowed, and the beach facility offers grill rentals, as well as a host of other beach necessities and tents. Restrooms are available. Opening hours are 9 a.m. ~ 9:30 p.m. with swimming 9 a.m. ~ 7 p.m.Travel south on Highway 58 to the Okinawa Convention Center bypass (or north, from Camp Kinser). The ANA Laguna Garden Hotel and the Convention Center are landmarks for the nearby beach. Parking is limited at the beach, but ample parking is available about two blocks away.
Sunset Beach is in Chatan, close to both Camps Lester and Foster, and also Kadena Air Base. The beach and its adjacent pavilion are free, and offer picnic tables. Sunset Beach has clearly identified swimming zones, marked by ropes. Sunset Beach hours until June 30th are 9 a.m. ~ 6 p.m. From July first, the beach remains open an hour later. To visit Sunset Beach, travel north (or south) on Highway 58 to Camp Lester. Beach signs are clearly marked at the Camp Lester Gate #1 intersection.
Toyosaki Chura Sun Beach is open 6 a.m. ~ 10 p.m. daily, but swimming hours through June are 9 a.m. ~ 6 p.m. The beach is only 15 minutes by car from Naha Airport. Follow the Oroku bypass south. A jellyfish net is installed on this beautiful artificial beach, a full 700 meters in length.
Itoman Bi Bi Beach will be open 8:30 a.m. ~ 8:30 p.m. starting March 31st. Travel south 20 minutes by car from Naha, arriving at the beach in Nishizaki Town, Itoman City. Parking in front of the beach is ¥500 for a full day. The beach is white sand, and the sea at the artificial beach is a beautiful emerald green. The swimming area is established in the beach. Snorkeling is prohibited, but playing with beach balls or rubber rings is permissible. Since jellyfish invasion prevention nets are installed, families with kids can enjoy the water play in comfort. Life Guards are always on the beach.
Oura Wan Beach is Camp Schwab’s base beach. Operated by Marine Corps Community Services, the beach offers swimming and a place to sunbath and play. Snorkeling gear and kayaks are available to rent. No lifeguards are on duty so you swim at your own risk. Travel north on Highway 329 to Camp Schwab.
White Beach Naval Station Beach features a beach, a swimming pool, cabins and camping and trailer rentals. All base facilities are available. Travel north on Highway 330 from Camp Foster, turning right at the Agena intersection to Route 10. Be alert as the road quickly veers right and becomes Highway 8. Travel east to the end of the road, at the White Beach Main Gate.
Okuma Joint Services Recreation Facility is located on Okinawa’s far northwest side, north of Nago City. A full recreation complex operated by the Air Force, Okuma has everything from cabanas and cabins to camp sites. Most have been renovated in recent years. Okuma has beach, boats and even a nine-hole golf course. Reservations are a must for anything more than a day visit, as the extremely popular beach is often sold out.
Courtney Beach is small and compact, and located on Camp Courtney proper.
Uken Beach, Gushikawa Beach and Teruma Beach are on the island’s east side, near White Beach. These Okinawa beaches are far less crowded than many, and are much less developed. Rest rooms are available. From Highway 329, travel east on Highway 8 toward White Beach. Watch for the beach signs.
Ikei Island Beach is in the same area, near White Beach. It is on a small island connected to Okinawa by a bridge. Travel Highway 10, then 8 toward White Beach. Turn left at Ikei Island signs, cross the bridge, and travel about ten kilometers to the beach. There is an entry fee for this beach.
Torii Beach is located on the U.S. Army military installation in Yomitan. It has excellent beach, and facilities are new and plentiful. Cottages are available for rent, there’s a water park and water slide, sports equipment rental, and free campsites. Travel north on Highway 58 to Yomitan, turning left onto Route 6. Enter Torii Station Gate One, then follow signs to the beach.
The southeast side of Okinawa has a number of secluded beaches with limited facilities and services. Most offer excellent snorkeling opportunities. Several worth mentioning are Azama Sun Sun Beach, Komaka Beach, Hyakuna Beach and Mibaru Beach, all located on Highway 331. To reach Highway 331, travel south on Highway 331 to Yonabaru Town, where 331 picks up.
MWR and MCCS offices on bases have island maps which pinpoint these and other beaches on Okinawa.