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Okinawa beaches offer hours of relaxation

By: Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2005-04-01

It’s official.

Spring is here, and beaches across Okinawa are now open for the 2005 season. Ishigaki Island led the way March 13th, albeit with super chilly temperatures , with school children splashing their way into the China Sea.

Okinawa is an island filled with plenty of beaches geared to family outings, barbeques, and sunbathing. Temperatures are now warming, and thousands are already finding their way to the most popular beaches. A few hundred others are making their way to the more secluded beaches in both the north and south regions of the island.

While opportunities for splashing in the surf are many, some of the more popular civilian and military beaches are outlined here:

Sunset Beach is in Chatan, close to Camps Lester and Foster, as well as Kadena Air Base. The beach and its adjacent pavilion are free, and offer picnic tables. Sunset Beach has a clearly identified swimming area marked by ropes. To visit Sunset Beach, travel north (or south) on Highway 58 to Camp Lester. Beach signs are clearly marked at the Gate 1 intersection.

Naminoue Beach is Naha’s pride and joy, located near the city’s two primary seaports. There are actually two beaches—one city owned, one private—available for sun worshippers. The city’s Naminoue Beach is small, but secure. Swimming areas are roped in and protected from water sports enthusiasts, jet skis and kayaks. Lifeguards are on duty from sunup to sundown. Food stands are available within 50 meters of the complex. Restrooms and showers are available. Several hundred yards away is the Espana Naminoue Beach. Privately owned, it has restaurants and arcade activities available only yards from the beach. Both have idyllic sandy beach. Travel south on Highway 58 to Naha, being alert for signs for the righthand turn to Naminoue Beach in the heart of the city.

Tropical Beach, the Ginowan Seaside Park, is a popular setting for military personnel and families. Located just south of Camp Foster next to the Okinawa Convention Center, it features a clearly defined beach and breakwaters area, as well as picnic tables. Barbeques are permitted, and the facility offers barbeque grill rentals, tents and water sports equipment. Restrooms are available. 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 lots are available about two blocks away.

Oura Wan Beach is Camp Schwab’s on-base facility. Operated by Marine Corps Community Services, the beach offers swimming, fishing and boating activities as well as snorkeling. Sailboats, jet skis, power boats, windsurfing boards and kayaks can be rented, and there’s a fishing bait and tackle shop on site. The beach has lifeguards. Charter boat rentals are also offered from Oura Wan Beach. Travel north on Highway 329 to Camp Schwab.

Uken Beach, Gushikawa Beach and Teruma Beach are on the island’s east side, near White Beach. These Okinawan beaches are less crowded than many, and less developed. Restrooms are available. From Highway 329, travel east on Highway 8 toward White Beach. Look for the beach signs.

Ikei Island Beach is in the same area, near White Beach. The beach is on a small island connected to Okinawa by a bridge. Travel Highway 8, then 10 toward White Beach. Turn left at the Ikei Island signs, cross the bridge, and travel the roadway about ten kilometers to the beach. There is an entry fee for this beach.

White Beach Naval Station Beach features not only the beach, but a swimming pool, camping and trailer rentals, and cabins. On the base, all facilities are available. Travel north on Highway 330 from Camp Foster, turning right at the Agena intersection to Route 10. Be careful as the road quickly veers right and becomes Highway 8. Proceed east to the end of the road, and the White Beach Main Gate.

Okuma Joint Services Recreation Facility is located on Okinawa’s westside, north of Nago City. A fully developed recreation complex operated by the Air Force, Okuma has everything from cabanas and cabins to camp sites. Many have been renovated over the past several years. There is beach, boats and even a nine hole golf course. Reservations for anything more than a day outing on the beach are essential, as the facility is extremely popular.

Courtney Beach is small and compact, located on Camp Courtney.

The southeast side of Okinawa has many secluded beaches with limited facilities and services. Most have excellent snorkeling opportunities. Several worthy of note are Azama Sunsun Beach near Sashiki Town and Chinen Village on Highway 331. Further south on Highway 331 are Komaka Beach, Hyakuna Beach and Mibaru Beach. To reach Highway 331, travel south on Highway 331 to Yonabaru Town, where 331 picks up.

Torii Station Beach is located on the military installation in Yomitan. It’s beach is excellent, and facilities are plentiful. Cottages are available for rent, there’s a water park and waterslide, 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.

These should get you started. Once they become “routine” you’ll want to explore more. There are dozens of beaches ringing the island. MCCS and MWR offices have island maps which pinpoint most of the beaches on Okinawa.

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