Working for a charter airline whose biggest client was the United States military definitely came with certain perks. We flew our bravest to bases all over the world. This included Okinawa, Japan. Up until about two years ago, I had no idea that Okinawa had an abundance of beaches (a complete mental lapse on my end being that I knew Japan itself is an archipelago). Accordingly, when I booked a trip to Japan for spring break, I knew a side trip to Okinawa was in order.
As a self-professed beach snob, searching for a beach to rest my head proved to be a challenge. For starters, I only had two days in Okinawa before heading back to mainland Japan. Secondly, while beautiful, I wasn’t exactly blown away by the beaches in mainland Okinawa. In the end, I decided I wanted to visit Aharen Beach on Tokashiki Island. It was picturesque, and doable as a day trip (or so I read).
There was just one issue.
How the hell would I get there?
After some digging, I realized that getting there actually wasn’t difficult at all. It did however, require some planning.
Getting to Aharen Beach would require leaving from Tomari Port, which is about a 20 min drive from Naha Airport. Naha has a very efficient monorail system that is directly connected to the airport. The closest train station to the port is Miebashi Station.
Accordingly, when choosing a hotel to stay in, I looked solely at its proximity to the port. I chose Hotel Peace Land, which was literally a five minute walk away from the Port. Now would I recommend Hotel Peace Land for hotel snobs? No way. However, It was clean and…yeah it was clean. Straight out of 1987. In great need of updating, but it was efficient and the staff was nice.
Tomari Port itself is tough to miss.
To get to Aharen Beach, you have the choice of two ferries. Option #1 (the slow ferry) takes about an hr and 10 mins. Option #2 (the more expensive option), the Marine Liner will get you there in approximately 35 minutes.
Although I didn’t have a lot of time, I opted for the 10am slower ferry…because I am as my mother says, a “cheapo.”
You can buy tickets inside the port, but depending on the time of year (like Golden Week), it is STRONGLY advised that you don’t wait until the morning you want to go as tickets can sell out. Most of the workers speak decent to perfect English, so you won’t have to worry about a language barrier. If you happen to have forgotten your swimwear, don’t fret. There is a beach shop located inside the port.
When you get your ticket, there are signs that point you in the right direction towards the ferry (nevermind the huge ferry that will probably already be docked). Your ticket will be checked, and you can walk right on board. The ride goes pretty swiftly if you occupy yourself with music, books, etc.
As soon as your get off the ferry, there are shuttle buses that will take you to your desired beach at 400 yen each way. It is about a 10 to 15 minute ride. When you arrive, you are met with numerous beach rental merchants, restrooms, showers (surcharge) and a restaurant.
I walked to the beach to check out where I’d be spending the next few hours.
Unfortunately, there were only a few breaks of sun. However, believe me when I say the cloudy skies did not get in the way of Aharen’s beauty. Aharen Beach is gorgeous. My only complaint would be the abundance of rocks, but this isn’t an issue that slippers can’t rectify. I spent the next few hours in and out of the water (COLD AT FIRST), sleeping, taking pictures, and listening to music in my lounge chair.
Being the only black tourist at the beach, I was asked to join people in their pictures. Usually this isn’t something I object to, as long as someone doesn’t try to sneak a picture (perhaps I can write about that another time).
Before I knew it, the 3pm shuttle bus to take us back to the 4pm ferry arrived and we were on our way. Since I was a teacher on vacation, God decided to prank me by having hundreds of schoolkids on the same ferry.
Nonetheless, the ride back to Naha went smoothly (even though it began to rain at this point) and we arrived back in Naha by 5:10pm. I can say with full confidence that not only is Aharen Beach a feasible side day trip, it is also is a place that many would enjoy.