Cape Zanpa, sometimes called Cape Zampa, is a rocky cape with a 30 meter tall lighthouse. The cape, which is located about midway between Naha and Nago on Okinawa Main Island, is a popular destination due to the great views from the lighthouse, the unique rock formations surrounding it and the nice beaches.
Zanpa cape has a coastline of about 2km, with the highest point above the ocean being a 31 meter tall cliff. At the very tip of the cape lies the Zanpa Lighthouse, a majestic, slim white tower which was constructed in 1974. From the parking lot a small trail leads you through the eroded volcanic rock towards the lighthouse. It is possible to go to the top of the lighthouse for a small fee of ¥200 (child ¥100) – a small price to pay for a magnificent view. The view from the top of the lighthouse is quite unique, especially due to the mesmerizing patterns in the volcanic rock formations below and around the tower. The dark rocks, blue sea and lush green vegetation makes a fantastic landscape.
Cape Zanpa attracts a large number of tourists, in part because of the natural beauty of the coastline and the great view from the lighthouse, but also because of the nearby beach, Zanpa Beach, which is one of the better beaches on Okinawa Honto. To fully enjoy the beauty of Cape Zanpa, why not book a night at the Royal Hotel Zanpamisaki which is located right near the beach? This way you can enjoy the beach and the beautiful walks around the cape at a slow and relaxing pace, or maybe play a round of golf on the impressive golf court.
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Near the parking lot there are a few other attractions worth seeing. A prominent feature is the Zanpa Misaki Recreation Plaza which has restaurants and shops, a play ground, petting zoo and one of the largest Shisa statues in Okinawa. Between the recreation plaza and the lighthouse there is a statue of Taiki, the first Okinawan man to be sent to China for tribute trade. He stands atop a ledge, pointing his arm towards China.
Along the northern coastline of the cape, there are a number of smaller sights, including a small shinto shrine, and an “ocean blow hole” which, on days with strong wind and large waves, can cause a Sea Geyser to appear. There is also a small observation deck, great for observing the strong waves crashing on the steep northern shore.
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Cape Zanpa – a historic World War 2 site
What is often forgotten and not told about Cape Zanpa is, that it played an important role in World War 2. In March 1945, US troops had occupied the Kerema Islands just off the coast of Okinawa Main Island. Following the successful occupation, on april 1st they aimed for several landing points on the coast south of Cape Zanpa. The US troops landed on several locations along the beach just south of the cape on this day, officially initiating the Battle of Okinawa – the largest amphibious assault in the pacific during WW2. The following day, April 2nd, came to be a tragic and fatal one. Villagers of the area now known as Yomitan, fled to Chibichiri Cave when the americans came. 140 men, women and children committed suicide on this day, on orders of the Japanese Military. A tragic story, and one of the most devastating mass suicides during world war 2.
By car: from Naha, take route 58 north towards Yomitan. Then transfer to route 6 or 12 and keep heading north until you reach the tip of the Cape. The travel time from Naha to Cape Zanpa is approximately 1 hour by car.
From Nago, take route 71 south, then transfer to route 58 south. After passing the famous Renaissance Okinawa Resort, transfer to route 6 and follow this road to the end of the cape. The travel time from Nago to Cape Zanpa is approximately 1 hour by car.
By bus: The fastest bus connection is the Limousine Bus B, which departs from Naha Bus Terminal and arrives at Royal Hotel Okinawa Zanpa Misaki after about 80 minutes. From there it is a 15 minute walk to the tip of the cape. From Naha Bus Terminal you can also take Limousine Bus AB to Royal Hotel Okinawa Zanpa Misaki. The bus ride takes around 2 hours. Alternatively it is possible to take the airport limousine bus, which can also be caught at Naha Bus Terminal and also stops at Royal Hotel Okinawa Zanpa Misaki. Bus fare is between ¥1400-1500 depending on the route (2021).