A mecca for SCUBA divers, sun seekers and shopaholics alike, Chatan is an aquatic playground fringed by white sandy beaches, swaying palm trees and mall complexes. Its location on the west coast of Okinawa Island makes it a popular destination for divers wanting to explore the kaleidoscopic ecosystems of the East China Sea. Admire the colourful coral of the Sunabe sea wall, drift dive with turtles in Ugan and swim with sharks in the Kamiyama labyrinth.
For those that prefer to stay on dry land, Chatan is a great place to shop. The Kitamae, Mihama and Sunabe districts are brimming with boutiques, while much of the Hamby area is occupied by a sprawling flea market with bargains. For a unique Chatan experience, the city’s iconic ferris wheel allows visitors to soar above it all. Soak up stunning sea panoramas during the day, or ride at night for a view of the city’s sparkling lights.
Thanks to its location on coastal Japan National Route 58, Chatan is easy to reach via road. It’s a short 30-minute drive from Naha Airport, which services regular flights to major Japanese cities like Tokyo, Hiroshima and Osaka.
While today Chatan is a lively seaside resort town, it served as a strategic hub during World War II. It was home to the U.S. Marine Corp base of Camp Hamby, which is now known as Camp Foster. The northern border is also skirted by the American Kadena Air Base, which is home to USAF's 18th Wing, the 353d Special Operations Group and a handful of other units. Before its military significance, the region was a rice production powerhouse. This earned it the name of ‘Chatan taa-bukkwa’, which translates to “large area of rice paddies” in the Okinawa language.