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 once you go away from tourist beaches. Nishibama Beach, the main tourist beach located on the north-east shore of Aka-jima, is often referred to as one of the most scenic beaches of the Kerama Islands, with some great snorkeling spots (at the reef edge). Nishibama Beach is particularly good if the wind is southerly as it is sheltered. Aka Beach, located next to the port, is visually the least beautiful beach on Aka Island but there is the highest chance to snorkel with sea turtles there (best in the morning). It’s also a great spot to see beautiful coral and many different kinds of tropical fish. We even saw a giant manta ray there! Hizushi Beach on the west side, is also close to the township and is great for snorkeling. It’s a beautiful little beach to enjoy the sunset as it’s west-facing. Further up the road, accessible either on foot or by bicycle until the trail starts (although completely uphill), is Agunohama Beach which, like Hizushi Beach is great for when the wind is northerly or north-easterly as it is sheltered.
There are a few places on the island where you can have lunch but there is nowhere to purchase a “bento” (lunch box) to take away. Some hotels will provide a bento-style lunch if asked in advance. There are just three small shops in the village and they have plenty of beer and snacks. 🙂
We’ve been visiting the Kerama Islands regularly since 2007, and Aka-jima remains pretty much the same, whereas other major islands of the Kerama’s such as Tokashiki and Zamami have been hugely affected by international tourism. Accommodation, although available, is basic and limited, and reservations are necessary in advance. There is no camp site on this island and wild camping is strictly prohibited due to the national park law.

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 lifeguards on the Kerama Islands have started to ask people to wear a life jacket (or wetsuit) whilst snorkeling, especially in the “swimming surveillance area”. Alternatively you can just go to non-tourist beaches which have no lifeguards.
For experienced snorkelers who want to snorkel without restrictions, Aka-jima is our choice among the Kerama Islands for easily accessible non-tourist beaches for a great snorkeling experience.

About the Kerama Island Group:
The Kerama Island group is known for some of the world’s clearest waters reaching 50-60m visibility. If you want to enjoy just beaches and snorkeling or scuba diving, rather than combined with 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