Aka Island (Aka-jima) of the Kerama Islands

With a population of less than 300 people, Aka Island (also known as Aka-jima) is a sleepy village island. Island-hopping day trippers and scuba divers bring the island to life during the day, however the numerous hidden beaches and hilly geography make it a real challenge to spot anyone even at the busiest times. Nishihama (Nishibama) beach located at the north shore of Aka-jima, is often referred as one of the most scenic beaches of the Kerama Islands, with great snorkeling spots (at the reef edge).

The number of international tourists visiting the Kerama Islands has increased significantly in the last 10 years. Even still, it doesn’t feel busy even during peak seasons due to the limited number of accommodation and also the limited number of seats on jet ferries for day trippers.
However, water accidents have also increased in recent years with more tourists. Because of this, most tourist beaches with life guards on the Kerama Islands have started to ask people to wear a life jacket whilst snorkeling, or snorkel inside the buoyed area right in front of the beach. For those who want to snorkel outside the buoyed areas or free dive whilst snorkeling, you will need to use a swim ring or some sort of floatation device attached to you by a rope. Alternatively you can just go to non-tourist beaches which have no life guards.

About the Kerama Island Group:
The Kerama Island group is known for some of the world’s clearest waters 50-60m visibility. If you simply want to enjoy beaches and snorkeling or scuba diving, rather than jungle trekking or mangrove river kayaking, the Kerama Islands are highly recommended. The beaches on these islands are very beautiful but off-the-beach snorkeling is not the best since a lot of coral close to the beaches were damaged by El Niño in 2007 and 2016, although they have started to recover recently. If you can swim to the outer reef or go snorkeling or scuba diving from a boat, you can have a great experience (however, not as great as you would in the Yaeyama Islands and the Miyako Islands). The Kerama Islands are easily accessible by ferry from Okinawa Main Island (Tomarin Port) in 30 mins to 2 hours depending on your destination island and the type of ferry. If you want to have a car-free holiday, these islands are perfect as each of these islands is small enough to explore by bicycle/scooter.

PrefectureOkinawa (Kerama Island Group)Size3.8 sq kmPopulationApproximately 280AccessFerries run frequently between Okinawa Main Island (Tomarin Port) and the Kerama Island Group. It takes about 50/90 mins by fast/slow ferry to Aka Island. A boat between Aka Island and Zamami takes 15 mins (300 yen). Getting aroundBicycle rental