Tropical Okinawa and the southern islands are without doubt home to many of Japan's best beaches. Surrounded by warm clear water and often fringed with exotic coral reef, the white sand beaches of Okinawa seem to have been largely overlooked by the rest of the world.
Also known as the Ryukyu Islands, the Okinawa archipelago is made up of over 20 islands of varying sizes. All are located in the far south of Japan, but as you head southwards from the main island of Okinawa Honto things become increasingly tropical and much less developed.
Okinawa Island itself is home to a wealth of good beaches although many have been developed into resorts and others are in urban areas. The best of Okinawa's beaches are located on the smaller islands such as the Yaeyama, Miyako and Kerama Islands. Here the features which make Okinawa's beaches so appealing are magnified and many have a pristine, untouched feel with jungles and mangrove forest spilling down to the beach. The southern Okinawan beaches also offer world class diving with dolphins and sea turtles regularly seen along with bigger fish such as Manta rays and Whale sharks.
Whilst the beaches of the Ryukyu island chain are a tropical paradise, with this come a couple of things to be aware of. Firstly, time your visit; whilst it is never cold here October is Typhoon season and things can get a little hairy. The other thing to watch out for at Okinawa's beaches is the Habu Jellyfish - a small box jellyfish. These are more prevalent in the summer months and can deliver a dangerous sting.