When you hear someone talk about traveling to Japan, I bet you initially think of the city of Tokyo. Or maybe the busy Shibuye crossing. Or even the fish markets and delicious, fresh sushi. But, out of all the things that come to mind when thinking of Japan, I can almost guarantee that you don’t think of a peaceful beach with warm waters and tall palm trees.
On the beautiful island of Okinawa, that lies just over 400 miles south from the rest of Japan, is this exact paradise. With weather averaging in the mid 80s during the month of November, my friends and I decided to take a mini 3 day vacation here and escape from the chilly weather in Seoul.
Okinawa is one of the islands in the Ryukyu island chain that stretches from the tip of mainland Japan to Taiwan. The island is actually closer to Taiwan by 100 miles than it is to Japan’s mainland. Known for it’s breathtaking scenery and warm climate, Okinawa is appropriately nicknamed “Japan’s Hawaii.”
Although Okinawa hosts numerous gorgeous beaches and plenty of palm trees, the best beach (~in my opinion~) is Maribu Beach, which is located on the southern end of the island.
Maribu beach is my favorite mainly because of its many unique features. First, the sand on the beach is actually made up of tiny pieces of seashells and coral.
There are parts of the beach where the crashing waves have really broken up the shells into fine sand. But there are also many places where you can see the shells, sea glass, and pieces of coral relatively intact. The only downside to this is that it makes walking on that part of the beach quite uncomfortable if you aren’t wearing shoes!
Another aspect that I enjoyed was how beautiful the water was. It looks like it was taken straight from a picture in a travel destination brochure. The water is so clear that you can see the sandy bottom and all the shells that have settled there.
Another reason why Maribu Beach is so amazing is that there are so many beautiful natural rock formations. They are right off the beach so you can easily swim to some of them.
If swimming, sun bathing, collecting seashells, or walking along the beach is too mellow for you, there are plenty of other activities to do here. Enjoy taking a ride in a glass bottom boat or rent some jet skis for some fun on the water.
Student & Traveler Tips
According to the Okinawa Index and the Okinawa Island Guide, the Habu Kurage jellyfish, or box jellyfish, are known to roam the waters around the beaches. These semi-translucent jellyfish can be difficult to spot and are know to have have painful stingers. Usually they are only active around May until October, with their peak season being in June through the month of August. When I was there in November, I thankfully didn’t encounter any jellyfish. The two resources I mentioned earlier have tips on their sites about how to avoid being stung and what to do if you are stung. I suggest reading up on the information before heading to the beaches.
Being a tropical island, the weather here changes quickly. Half the time it was raining here, the other half it was nice and sunny. Moral of the story, make sure to pack for all types of weather! Also, it was really warm here even in the middle of November.