Vegetarian's Japan Guide

The Ultimate Guide to How to Enjoy Aka Island

While increasing in popularity as a day trip destination from Naha, Aka Island (阿嘉島) remains a relatively less-visited inhabited island amongst the Kerama Islands group. And the good thing is that Aka Island is connected to Geruma Island (慶留間島) and Fukaji Island (外地島) by bridges so that you can explore three islands with a single boat ride! In addition, many trendy cafes and bars face the sea in the village!

Table of Content

Click HERE to skip to Aka Island’s access information.

Explore the Kerama Islands With a Guided Tour

If you prefer a guide to introduce you to the charms of the Kerama Islands, how about joining one of the below tours?

How to Get to Aka Island

Aka Island is located around 40km southeast of Okinawa‘s main island. From Naha’s Tomarikō Ferry Wharf, you can take Ferry Zamami (フェリーざまみ) or High‑Speed Queen Zamami (高速船クイーンざまみ) to Aka Island.

  • Ferry Zamami: One service per day
    • It takes around 90 minutes from Naha to Aka Island by Ferry Zamami.
    • The cost to board Ferry Zamami:
      • For adults
        • One-way: 2,150 yen
        • Return: 4,090 yen
      • For children
        • One-way: 1,080 yen
        • Return: 2,060 yen
  • Queen Zamami: Two services per day
    • It takes around 50 minutes from Naha to Aka Island by Queen Zamami.
    • The cost to board Queen Zamami:
      • For adults:
        • One-way: 3,200 yen
        • Return: 6,080 yen
      • For children:
        • One-way: 1,600 yen
        • Return:3,040 yen
    • The number of passengers that the ferry can take is limited. A reservation is recommended, particularly in the summer.
    • You can board the ferry 30 minutes before departure time.

How to Get Around Aka Island

As no bus or taxi services are running and there are no car rental shops on Aka Island, you will need to rent a bicycle or motorbike if you don’t want to walk from one attraction to another.

Rental Bicycle Shops:

Rental Bicycle and motorbike Shop:

  • Bicycle rental:
    • 300 yen for an hour
    • 500 yen for 2 hours
    • 700 yen for 3 hours
    • 800 yen for 4 hours
    • 1,000 yen for 5 hours and over until 6 pm on the day
    • 1,500 yen for 24 hours
  • Motorbike rental:
    • From 1,500 yen for an hour
    • From 2,000 yen for 2 hours
    • From 2,500 yen for 3 hours
    • From 3,000 yen for 4 hours
    • From 3,500 yen for 5 hours
    • 1,500 yen for every additional hour

Tip: Accommodation providers and watersports equipment rental shops on Aka Island might be able to take you to the attractions you want to visit.

Things to Keep in Mind on Aka Island

  • Please only use sun cream made from natural ingredients to protect the coral reefs.
  • Drinks, snacks, and food can be purchased from the shop on Aka Island. It is recommended to do so before heading to a beach other than Nishibama Beach.
  • Check the Tidal Graph to know when it is a better time to snorkel.
    • When the tide level drops below 40 cm, the water depth becomes shallow, and you might accidentally damage the coral reefs.
    • You won’t be able to swim if the tide level is below 20 cm.
  • You will have a higher chance of spotting one or more sea turtles during high tide.
  • If you want to snorkel at Nishibama Beach, stay within the area marked by lane ropes when the lifeguards are stationed.
  • Please take your rubbish with you at all times.

Tip: There are paid shower facilities at Aka Port’s ferry terminal.

What to Bring to Aka Island

  • Change of clothes with the set depending on the number of days of stay + spares.
  • Towels
  • Cash – many shops on Aka Island are still only accepting cash. There are ATMs at the post office if you wish to withdraw cash.
  • Camera
  • Swimming suit
  • Sun protection items

Tip: There are two shops on Aka Island to head to if you need to purchase food and drinks, Tatsunojō (辰登城) and Kakihana Shōten (垣花商店).

Kerama Deer (ケラマジカ)


Speaking of deer, Nara is the most famous spot in Japan to meet these cute creatures. But the type of deer you will meet on Aka Island is Japan’s designated natural monument!

As Aka Island has a higher forest density amongst the islands in the Keruma Islands group, there are a few hundred of Kerama Deers living on the island. These deers are extra cute because their white fur forms a heart-shaped pattern on their bottom!

The Keruma Deer can usually be seen across Aka Island from the late afternoon when the temperature is cooler. If you can’t see them, you can try to search for them in the shade.

Zamami Village Tourism Association Aka Geruma Information Center (座間味村観光協会 阿嘉・慶留間案内所)

At Aka Port’s ferry terminal, the ferry ticket office is also a tourist information center. It is where you can seek help with sightseeing ideas, accommodations on Aka and Geruma Island, and booking watersport activities.

There are also coin-operated lockers there. If your belongings are too big to fit into the locker, you can store them at the tourist information center for 200 yen per piece.

While it is possible to ask the staff at the tourist information center to book accommodation and/or watersport activities for you, it is best to make the booking beforehand, especially if you plan to visit Aka Island during the peak season in summer.

  • Zamami Village Tourism Association Aka Geruma Information Center is open from 9 am to 5 pm.

The Statue of Shiro (シロの像)


Soon after you get off the ferry, you will notice this dog statue. Different to the Hachikō statue in front of Shibuya Station, the dog called Shiro (シロ) was not waiting for his owner. Instead, Shiro was eager to reunite with Marilyn (マリリン), his lover, living on Zamami Island (座間味島).

In the beginning, Marilyn and Shiro were both living on Zamami Island. But Shiro’s owner had to move to Aka Island later on. So to reunite with his lover, Shiro would swim 3km across the sea to see Marilyn.

With many being touched by the story, a movie called I Want to See Marilyn (Marilyn ni Aitai, マリリンに会いたい) was made based on this love story. A statue was then placed on both Zamami Island and Aka Island, respectively.

Aka Bridge (阿嘉大橋)


On the ferry to Aka Island, what will definitely catch your attention is the 530-meter-long magnificent bridge connecting both Aka and Geruma Island. Not only does the bridge make it more convenient for the locals to travel between the islands, but it is also practically a landmark, making the surrounding scenery even more spectacular!

As various mode of transportation (including walking) is allowed on Aka Bridge, if you have time, how about adoring the Kerama-Blue colored sea from Aka Bridge? You might even be able to spot a sea turtle or a manta ray!


How to Get to Aka Bridge

  • Aka Bridge is just around a 3-minute walk from Aka Port.
    • There are stairs to Aka Bridge near the port.
  • If you plan to drive or ride a bicycle from Aka Port, you will need to make a detour from the end of the bridge.

Aka Beach (阿嘉ビーチ)

Whilst Nishibama Beach is the most famous beach on Aka Island, a better beach for snorkeling is Aka Beach.

The beach is quite close to Aka Port. Although it doesn’t look like a pleasant beach for sunbathing due to its concrete walls and tetrapods on one side of it, the underwater world will give you a completely different impression. And because the current is calm there, it is safe for young children to play in the water.


The coral reefs closer to the shore are mostly fire coral. As you swim further offshore, the coral reefs get bigger and more dynamic. But before you swim too far from the shore, you might run into a sea turtle around 30 to 40 meters offshore as they live around Aka Beach!

☛ Sea turtles can usually be spotted near the embankment. If they aren’t there, check the area around the breakwater. Or you can snorkel around where the buoys are located as they are installed at points where sea turtles are often seen.
☛ The best time to meet sea turtles is in the morning, which is their mealtime.
☛ The best time for photography is around noon.
☛ There are toilets at Sango Yuntakukan Visitor Center (慶良間諸島国立公園ビジターセンター さんごゆんたく館).
☛ The best snorkeling area is around 30 to 60 meters offshore.

☛ There are no lifeguards stationed at Aka Beach. A lifejacket is essential unless you are experienced. Fins are also necessary.
☛ Be careful not to go too far offshore, or else you will be too close to the sea route.
☛ Please don’t touch the sea turtles. They are all protected species.

As a side note, Aka Beach’s formal name is Maja no Hama (真謝浜).

How to Get to Aka Beach

  • Aka Beach is just around a 5 to 10-minute walk from Aka Port.

Menuhama Beach (前浜ビーチ (メーヌハマビーチ))


On the other side of Aka Port, there is another beach called Menuhama. Unlike other beaches on Aka Island, Menuhama Beach has table sets for you to use. And the reason? It is probably because the locals like to relax there after dinner. You might also run into a Kerama Deer there around sunset!

Because tetrapods are placed around 50 meters from the shore, it is the best beach on Aka Island to practice snorkeling. Clownfish and small coral reefs can also be found there too!

☛ More coral reefs and fish can usually be spotted on the Aka Bridge side.
☛ The coral reefs beyond the tetrapods are colorful and rich in variety. The distance is around 100 meters from the shore to the best coral reef spots.


☛ It is best not to walk on Menuhama Beach barefoot as the sand is mixed with small stones and broken coral reefs.
☛ While the current isn’t too rough, short fins are essential to swim beyond the tetrapods.

For the history buff, Menuhama Beach was where the U.S. Army landed during World War II.

How to Get to Menuhama Beach

  • Menuhama Beach is just around a 5 to 10-minute walk from Aka Port.

Hanamuro Inn Aka Island (ハナムロ・イン”阿嘉島)

A nice small hotel that is extremely close to Aka Port is Hanamuro Inn Aka Island. Although the rooms are simple and rather small, they are still comfortable to spend a night in. While there is no TV in the rooms, free WiFi is available to browse the internet.

Tip: If you are a vegetarian, let the hostel know, as they might be able to prepare you a vegetarian meal!

You can also rent snorkeling gear from the reception desk.

Just note that toilet and shower facilities are shared. And interestingly, the bathtubs are found on the terrace!

Important: This may not be a hostel for you if you require decent space in your room.

How to Get to Hanamuro Inn Aka Island

  • Hanamuro Inn Aka Island is just around a 5-minute walk from Aka Port.

Tip: Hanamuro Inn Aka Island provides free fetching services to/from Nishibama Beach.

Blue Suites Hanamuro (ブルースイーツ・ハナムロ)

If you love alcohol, consider spending a stylish night at Blue Suites Hanamuro. The small resort-style accommodation serves dinner and an all-you-can-drink bar! After dinner, how about heading to the rooftop for stargazing? You can stay dry at the counter seats or relax in one of their jacuzzi bathtubs!

Not only is Blue Suites Hanamuro really close and facing Menuhama Beach, but it also has a pool outside of your room! The hotel is also known for its high-quality hospitality. So while staying at Blue Suites Nahamuro is expensive, it is a great option for those who want to treat themselves (^_-)-☆.

Tip: Snorkeling gear can be rented for free at Blue Suites Nahamuro!

Important: You must be at least 18 years or over to stay at Blue Suites Hanamuro.

How to Get to Blue Suites Hanamuro

  • Blue Suites Hanamuro is around a 5 to 10-minute walk from Aka Port.

Tip: Hanamuro Inn Aka Island provides free fetching services to/from Aka Port.

Hahna Cafe (はぁなカフェ)

Although savory vegetarian menu items are limited, Hahna Cafe facing Menuhama Beach is a great spot for colorful smoothies!

Hahna Cafe doesn’t have a fancy appearance. In fact, the shop front resembles more to someone’s front garden!

The cafe is good at making pizza and pasta made with fresh Okinawan ingredients. You can utilize the phrases in our Essential Japanese Travel Phrases for Vegetarians and Vegans article to order a vegetarian dish or to somewhat customize your order. Alcohol is also served at Hahna Cafe, making it perfect for those who need a drink after exploring Aka Island’s beautiful beaches.

But what Hahna Cafe is renowned for is its fruit smoothies made with soy milk (島豆乳スムージー). The sweetness of the fruits goes really well with the soy milk. Enjoying the cold smoothie with Menuhama Beach in front of you is the best way to chill and relax on a hot summer day!

If you don’t like soy milk, you can order the normal version, which is cheaper.

☛ The most popular smoothie is the mango smoothie.
☛ Bicycles can be rented from Cafe Hahna.

Hahna Cafe’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • Hahna Cafe is open from 11:30 am to 5 pm.
    • Bicycles can be rented out between 9 am to 6 pm.
  • Menuhama Beach is just around a 5 to 10-minute walk from Aka Port.

Note that the Hahna Cafe doesn’t have a regular holiday.

Marine House Seasir Akajima (マリンハウスシーサー阿嘉島店)

For those who love snorkeling and diving, a great snorkeling and diving tour operator on Aka Island is Marine House Seasir Akajima.

The good thing about Seasir Akajima’s diving tours is that the tour is divided into sessions and conducted at different venues around Aka Island. The first diving session will be at a beach with calmer currents where sea turtles live. After you are more used to diving, they will take you to a spot with deeper water but with many coral reefs and tropical fish!

In addition to diving, Marine House Seasir Akajima also provides comfortable guestrooms for you to spend a night in. But just note that some rooms don’t have a toilet and shower attached.

For more information about Marine House Seasir Akajima and to reserve, refer to their website HERE!

How to Get to Marine House Seasir Akajima

  • Marine House Seasir Akajima is a 10-minute walk from Aka Port.
  • The reception is open from 8 am to 7 pm.

Kawai Diving & Fisherman’s Guest House (カワイダイビングアコモデーション)

At the west end of Menuhama Beach, Kawai Diving & Fisherman’s Guest House is another accommodation and diving and snorkeling tour provider on Aka Island. Accommodation-wise, while there is nothing fancy, the view from the guest house’s terrace is stunning and the owners take good care of their guests.

The guest house is famed for its delicious meals. Coffee and tea are free during your stay too. But just note that they can only cater to a pescatarian diet at best.

The diving and snorkeling gears you can rent are of good quality. Depending on your experience level, the diving tour that you can book will be different, ensuring you a safe and pleasant time in the water world!

For more information, refer to their website HERE.

How to Get to Kawai Diving & Fisherman’s Guest House

  • Blue Suites Hanamuro is around a 5 to 10-minute walk from Aka Port.

Tip: Kawai Diving & Fisherman’s Guest House provides free fetching service to/from Aka Port.

Nishibama Beach (北浜ビーチ)

Nishibama Beach is Aka Island’s main beach. Many people would visit the beach for snorkeling to explore the gorgeous coral reefs spreading near the shore. Besides coral reefs, you might be able to swim with a sea turtle at Nishibama Beach too!

© 沖縄観光コンベンションビューロー

During the swimming season from early April to mid-November, from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm, toilet and shower facilities, vending machines, equipment rental shops, restaurants, and temporary stalls are available to source everything you need to enjoy what Nishibama Beach has to offer.

In addition, lifeguards are stationed at Nishibama Beach during this time of the year for beginners to swim and snorkel.

But to see more colorful coral reefs, you would have to swim to the far end of the designated swimming area, around 80 meters offshore.

With that being said, if you are an experienced snorkeler, the condition of the coral reefs beyond the swimming area is a lot better with more fish. It is also where many diving boats would stop for customers to dive down.

How to Enjoy Nishibama Beach

☛ The coral reefs at the far end of the designated swimming area are the most dynamic (around 50 to 80 meters offshore).
☛ There is an observation deck (completed in 2018) for you to stay under the shade.
☛ Nishibama Beach’s entrance is a spot to run into Kerama Deer!
☛ The best photography time is around noon.
☛ Long fins are recommended if you want to snorkel at the best snorkeling spot at Nishibama Beach (located offshore in front of the beach house).
☛ The best way to explore Nishibama Beach, disregarding the designated swimming area, is to enter from the north end of the beach. The spot where the most lively coral reefs are located is around 40 meters offshore. Then you can slowly move south, where the best snorkeling spot is further away from the shore. But if the current is flowing from south to north, it is more efficient to snorkel/swim from the other direction.

Nishibama Observatory (北浜展望台)

While you take a break from the water, how about hiking up for five minutes to Nishibama Observatory? It is a great spot for a panoramic view from the east side of Aka Island!

How to Get to Nishibama Beach

  • Nishibama Beach is around a 20 to 25-minute walk from Aka Island Village. You can also reach Nishibama Beach, which is around 10 to 15 minutes by bicycle.
  • If you have access to a car, it will be around a 5-minute drive.

Tip: Check with your accommodation provider on Aka Island to see if they can take you to Nishibama Beach.

Ama-Gusuku Observation Deck (天城展望台)

From Meーnuhama Beach, if you hike up the hill, you will soon arrive at the entrance to the observatory closest to Aka Port. On the way there, you might encounter a few Kerama Deer. While the view from the entrance is already stunning, if you turn left from the parking lot, the scenery from the observation deck is even more amazing!

Ama-Gusuku Observation Deck will give you a panoramic view of Aka Bridge, Tokashiki Island (渡嘉敷島), and Gerama Island (慶留間島), floating on the Kerama-Blue-colored ocean! On a clear day, you can also see Kume Island (久米島) in the distance on the left.

Tip: While there are benches, there is not much shade at Ama-Gusuku Observation Deck. So you might want to bring along a sun umbrella.

Facing west, Ama-Gusuku Observation Deck is another popular sunset spot on Aka Island. You can also hike down to Hizushi Beach (ヒズシビーチ) to adore the sunset from different angles.

As a side note, from the car park, if you proceed opposite the road to the observation deck, there is an Utaki (御嶽). An Utaki is an Okinawan sacred place, often in the form of a grove, cave, or mountain. The one close to Ama-Gusuku Observation Deck is similar to a temple.

How to Get to Ama-Gusuku Observation Deck

  • Ama-Gusuku Observation Deck is just a 5-minute drive or a 15-minute walk from Aka Port.
  • From Menuhama Beach, it is around a 10-minute hike.

Hizushi Beach (ヒズシビーチ)

Hizushi Beach is a hidden gem on Aka Island. As not many people would visit it, you might find various types of shells and even coral reefs lying on the sandy shore.

As it is located on the west coast of Aka Island, more people might gather in the later afternoon to adore the amazing sunset scenery at Hizushi Beach.

The shallow area at Hizushi Beach continues around 50 meters from the shore. As you proceed further offshore, you will be surprised by the coral reefs at Hizushi Beach. From around 80 meters offshore, you can find a lot of coral reefs. And while the water is deeper, around 200 meters offshore, the coral reefs there are the most beautiful and rich in variety. But note that the current will be too fast to snorkel if you go further.

☛ There are more coral reefs on the beach’s south.
☛ Refer to the tidal graph HERE to plan your visit.

☛ Avoid visiting Hizushi Beach at low tide. You won’t be able to snorkel as the water will be too shallow to swim past the areas where coral reefs are growing.
☛ There are no facilities at Hizushi Beach.
☛ Fins are required.

How to Get to Hizushi Beach

  • Hizushi Beach is around a 15-minute walk from Aka Port.
  • While a part of the road to Hizushi Beach is a slope, it isn’t too hard to cycle your way to Hizushi Beach.
  • Most of the pathway from the car park to Hizushi Beach isn’t maintained. So you will be trekking through mostly earthen roads covered with vegetation.

Takibaru Observatory (中岳展望台)

Takibaru Observatory is located in the middle of Aka Island. While you can drive to a spot close to it, you will have to hike up a rather tough path. Because the path to Takibaru Observatory is covered by vegetation, you can check out the insect and tropical plants if you are interested.

Once you are at Takibaru Observatory, you will be rewarded with a magnificent view of the surrounding Kerama-Blue sea with islands scattered.

How to Get to Takibaru Observatory

  • Takibaru Observatory is around a 10-minute drive or a 40-minute walk from Aka Port.

Kushibaru Observatory (後原展望台)

Although it is probably not a lookout worth making a trip just for it, you can stop by it before reaching Kushibaru Beach. Since it isn’t easy to get there, you will likely have the scenery all for yourself.

Since Kushibaru Observatory is the westmost observatory on Aka Island, it is a spot to adore the sunset without saying. But because the vegetation blocked a majority of the view on the west side of the observatory, you won’t get a nice view of the sunset.


How to Get to Kushibaru Observatory

  • Kushibaru Observatory is around a 20-minute drive and a 5-minute hike from Aka Port.

Kushibaru Beach (クシバルビーチ)

If you don’t need a lifeguard stationed at the beach you snorkel at, instead of Nishibama Beach, Kushibaru Beach on Aka Island’s west is more recommended. Although it is harder to get to, the beach is as spacious as Nishibama Beach. In addition, the shallow beach has a wealth of coral reefs and tropical fish!

And while it is hard to snorkel during low tide, it is easier to get closer to the coral reefs, located around 100 meters offshore. The water depth here is around 2 to 10 meters. Although deep, it is probably where you can find the largest coral reef system around Aka Island. It is where more fish can be seen too. Closer to the shore, you might run into a few sea turtles.

Tip: Visit Kushibaru Beach during low tide to cut down the distance between the shore and the coral reef system. But please be careful not to damage any coral reefs growing in the shallower areas.

How to Get to Kushibaru Beach

  • Kushibaru Beach is around a 20-minute drive from Aka Port.
    • You can park the car in the open space in front of the beach entrance.

☛ There are no facilities at Hizushi Beach.
☛ Fins are required.
☛ There is no shade at Kushibaru Beach.

Discover Other Islands in the Keruma Islands National Park

Click the photo for more travel islands in Keruma Islands!

The Kerama Islands are a subtropical island group comprising more than 20 islands. If you have time, you can island-hop the three inhabited islands and even the few uninhabited islands to enjoy what the national park has to offer.

For more information, refer to our article on Keruma Islands!