Tokashiki Island of the Kerama Islands

Tokashiki Island is the largest island of the Kerama Island Group. The transparency of the waters around Tokashiki will take you by surprise. With clear weather, the view of the reef invites closer inspection, and it certainly never disappoints. If you like sea turtles, the Kerama Islands are ideal as there are many beaches where you can snorkel with different types of sea turtles. The two main beaches are Tokashiku Beach and Aharen Beach, and a few days at either spot is usually enough for most people. In case of a north wind, Aharen Beach has higher water clarity, and in case of a south wind, Tokashiku Beach has higher water clarity.
The best beach for swimming with sea turtles at any time of the day is Tokashiku Beach.
The best off-the-beach snorkeling spot is this area in front of Hijuishi Beach but it has to be on a calm day as this point gets easily affected by even a moderate north/south/west wind, and it can get dangerous. If you are visiting the deserted island in front of Aharen Beach, this point is also nice for snorkeling with coral even though it’s a very small area. This part of Aharen Beach where you don’t need to wear a lifejacket is also not bad with some nice coral dotted around, and there are quite a few Nemo fish too.
If you want to see pristine coral reefs, it’s better to take a snorkeling tour by boat.

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 (or wetsuit) whilst snorkeling, especially in the “Swimming surveillance area” of the tourist beaches. Alternatively you can just go to non-tourist beaches which have no life guards.
For experienced snorkelers who want to snorkel without restrictions, Aka Island (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.

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PrefectureOkinawa (Kerama Island Group)Size15.3 sq kmPopulationApproximately 740AccessFerries run frequently between Okinawa Main Island (Tomarin Port) and the Kerama Island Group. It takes 35/70 mins by fast/slow ferry to Tokashiki Island.Getting aroundGet a pick-up or taxi to your accommodation (which will probably be near either Tokashiku Beach or Aharen Beach) and get around that area on foot.