Those with a keen eye may discern that the massive hotel behind us is an InterContinental. The InterContinental ANA Manza Beach Resort is a stunning property, boating manicured lawns, palm-lined roads, and a pristine beach with ocean obstacle courses for adults and children alike. That was not where we were. Rather, we were at Nabee Beach, located one stoplight south of the InterContinental. Indeed, it was an InterContinental staff member who provided us with the simple directions when Google Maps continued to bring us to the entrance of the Manza Beach Resort.
As I’ve written about previously, Okinawa is full of beaches, many of which are free to access, while several are not. I still recall being shocked that one may have to pay to access a beach. Then, I was a young girl visiting her Grandparents in New Jersey. And while I appreciate all of the varied–and valid–reasons access to beaches may be pay-to-play, I tend to prefer spending my time at no-fee beaches. Judging from the crowd at Nabee Beach, so do many Okinawans.
Nabee Beach is more than a beach. It has one lifeguard, who also was in charge of putting up umbrella rentals. It has activity rentals (think banana boat rides, kayaks, snorkeling and fishing excursions). It has barbecue rentals. And it has an Okinawan restaurant. It is a busy place, with a steady flow of people consistently arriving and departing.
The swim area is netted and no snorkeling is allowed. However, a short walk towards the InterContinental will land you at a small beach, without amenities, lifeguards, or restrictions. We spent time on both beaches; both were equally beautiful, but the small beach was quieter and intimate with the added bonus of schools of fish swimming about.
We appeared to be the only Americans at Nabee Beach yesterday. The handful of non-Asian people we encountered likely were European or Australian.
Aside from the clear waters and carefree environment, my favorite part of the day was when [S] demanded to get out of her panda ring while in still in the waters of the East China Sea. She delighted in being motor-boated from one parent to the other, despite the splashing of salt water in her face, laughing out loud the entire time. Perhaps my second favorite part of the day was knowing we saved a c-note by bypassing the InterContinental and finding this gem of a beach.