LET'S HIT THE BEACH: Okinawa shores are open for business!

LET'S HIT THE BEACH: Okinawa shores are open for business!

Stripes Okinawa

In tropical Okinawa, beaches open for public use earlier than anywhere else in Japan – more than three months sooner than its central counterparts on the Kanto Plain. In fact, some already have and the majority will follow suit in the next couple of weeks, kicking off the summer of 2014.

To mark the occasion, Shinto priests will hold “umi biraki,” or sea-opening ceremonies, to purify the waters and bless the beaches for safe swimming. So, get ready to soak in the sun, grab your snorkel and fins and enjoy an Okinawan day at the beach.

Here is a list of beaches that are opening in the next few days that offer swimming and lifeguards on duty to ensure your beach time is safe and enjoyable. 

1. Yomitan Sonei Nirai Beach (Yomitanson): Open from April 4, noon to 6 p.m. Located right next to Hotel Nikko Alivila, spectacular sunset view, free parking (limited to 50 vehicles), changing room, bathroom, shower, marine activities are available (dragon boat, parasailing).

2. Zampa Beach (Yomitanson): Open from April 6, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Located by the famous Zampa Misaki’, beautiful white sand beach surrounded by natural reef, there is a field for children near the beach, free parking, changing room, bathroom, shower, marine activities are available.

3. Naminoue Beach (Naha): Open from April 6, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Located 15 minutes from Naha Airport, good visibility even though it’s close from Naha town, no parking, changing room, bathroom, shower.

4. Onna Kaihin Koen Nabi Beach (Onnason): Open from April 6, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Ideal place for family or someone to just kick back on quite beach, barbeque place, free parking, changing room, bathroom, shower.

5. Araha Beach (Chatan): Open from April 11, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Located close from Chatan Night Market, beach side walk, a popular place for couples and families, free parking, changing room, bathroom, shower, marine activities are available (dragon boat).

6. Chatan Koen Sunset Beach (Chatan): Open from April 11, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. April-May, 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. in June and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. July-Aug. Located close from American Village, a popular beach for military people, gorgeous sunsets, free parking, changing room, bathroom, shower.

7. Azama Sun Sun Beach (Nanjyoshi): Open from April 12, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. A man-made beach located next to Azama Port, good visibility, turf field and rental barbeque equipment, parking (500 yen per day), changing room, bathroom, shower, marine activities.

8. Okuma Beach (Kunigamison): Open from April 13, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. More than a half mile of beautiful white sand beach, nice villa and cottages in the area, free parking, changing room, bathroom, shower, various marine activities are available.

9. Ginowan Tropical Beach (Ginowan): Open from April 20, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. One of the most popular beaches in Okinawa, part of Ginowan Kaihin Park, which includes sports ground and athletic area and a gym, changing room, bathroom, shower.

Fireworks on the beach

On April 12, Japan’s earliest summer fireworks festival, the Ryukyu Kaiensai Festival, will be held on the stage of tropical beach in Ginowan Seaside Park. About 10,000 fireworks will be launched to kick off the Okinawan summer. The venue opens at 4:30 p.m., fireworks start at 7:30 p.m. Admission to ages 16 and up is 2,700 yen ($27); ages 15 and younger, 1,600 yen; children are free.  For details, visit: www.ryukyu-kaiensai.com/index.html

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