While Okinawa is by no means a surf mecca, it can definitely provide some good waves for the opportunistic surfer. This is a "how to" guide for the more adventurous travelers wanting to get in the water on their trip to Okinawa.
Okinawa is surrounded by coral and most spots are reef breaks. This means that apart from 3 hours either side of high tide, it is too shallow to safely surf.
Winter is the most consistent season for surf, as storms in the pacific bring in swells and northern winds create offshore conditions.
There are long flat periods in the summer, but the typhoon season arguably brings the best surf of the year and you can really score if you are in the right place at the right time.
There are two main surf spots in Okinawa:
Suicides (スーサイド) is the closest spot to Naha, and as a result it can get pretty crowded. To access this spot drive south to Heiwasouzonomori kouen (平和創造の森公園) near Komesu (米須). Park your car next to the war monuments and take the small path down to the ocean. Right in front of you, you will see “main”. This wave is frequented by locals and skilled surfers, so it’s best to paddle out to the left or right if you want some less crowded waves.
Sunabe Seawall (砂辺) is located right next to Sunabebaba Park (砂辺馬場公園) near Chatan (北谷) in Central Okinawa. You can park anywhere along the seawall. Getting into the water can be a bit difficult if the steps are wet or the current is strong. Be careful, and take it slow! There are several cafés, restaurants and bars along the seawall, which are great for a post-surf meal!
Marine shoes – Almost all surf spots in Okinawa are reef breaks, so bring marine shoes if you don’t want to injure your feet.
Sunscreen – Okinawa is HOT! The sun is extremely strong and it is very easy to get burnt.
Water – It is important to drink a lot of water both before and after spending a lot of time outside in the direct sunlight. Also, most surf spots in Okinawa don’t have shower facilities so bring a large container of water to wash off with after your session!
Wetsuit (depending on the season) - If you surf in summer you definitely won’t need anything thicker than a pair of board shorts. Winter however, is definitely more comfortable in a wetsuit (which can also double as protection against the reef).
Rentals, Lessons and Surf guides:
If you need to rent gear, have a professional lesson, or want a local to show you the best spots on the island, your best options are “Yes Surf Okinawa” in Itoman City, or “Happy Surfing Okinawa” in Yomitan.
Happy Surfing also has a guesthouse and English speaking staff to make your surf trip even easier.
Good luck and enjoy surfing in Okinawa!!