What To See on Zamami
For the best up to date info on Zamami you can always stop by Zamamia International Guesthouse. The staff is super helpful and are always keen to help foreigners enjoy everything Zamami has to offer! On this page you will find all of the free highlights of the island. For activities, tours, and transportation rentals, please see the What To Do section.
This is the most famous beach in the Kerama islands and has been ranked a two-star destination in the Michelin Green Guide Japan. Just a few steps into the water you will find yourself surrounded by beautiful coral teeming with colorful fish and other creatures. Although some of the coral is dead due to visitors touching or stepping on it, this is a wonderful place to snorkel especially for those more comfortable in calm, safe waters. Furuzamami has a long corally beach with sand at the swimming end; perfect for relaxing. There is a small building with two restaurants and toilets. At the beach entrance companies will rent you snorkeling and other water gear. These rental companies will give you a free ride to-and-from the port if you rent from them.
Directions: Facing the port take a left and follow the main road up the hill. At the top of the hill take a right and then follow the winding road down the hill. 1.4km from port (20 min walk)
Ama beach is the second most popular beach on Zamami and the best place to see turtles. To see tutles it is best to visit this beach around high tide. The snorkeling isn't the best here because of the lack of coral but if you would like an up close encounter with turtles it is well worth a visit. At low tide the water is too shallow to swim. During the summer months there is a lifeguard present from 9:00am to 5:00pm and swimming is restricted to the buoyed area. This beach has nice views of the surrounding islands which makes a great backdrop to view the sunset from its sandy beach, in the water, or by paddleboard. The island's only camping area is adjacent to this beach - campground includes bathrooms and cold showers.
Directions: Facing the port take a right and follow the road around the curves until you arrive in the next village. You will see the campgrounds which are adjacent to the beach. 1.5km from the port (20 min walk)
You can easily have this little beach to yourself. Located in Asa, Yuhina is quite isolated with a sandy beach enclosed by rock cliffs. Beaches around the north and south corners are accessible at low tide. No swimming here at low tide but if you visit around high tide you can possibly see turtles.
Directions: Facing the port at the traffic light, turn left and then take your first left at Wayama Mozuku Soba. Head towards Furuzamami Beach but instead of turning continue up the hill. You will reach Asa village. On the other side of the village you will reach a building and the road will fork. There will be a sign for Chishi Lookout, take this left and follow the dirt road to the beach.
Nita is a long sandy beach with a decent amount of coral for snorkeling. The trail down to the beach is an overgrown concrete trail with rope sections which can be difficult to navigate. The trail starts across from the low observatory between Unajinosaki and Inazaki Observatories on the West side of the island. This beach is the most popular turtle nesting beach on the island. There is a lot of beach trash because the area is remote and not regularly cleaned but this can make for intersting beachcombing.
Directions: Facing the port at the traffic light, take a right and follow the road past Ama Beach. Continue along the road for several kilometers until you see a low lookout on your right-hand side. On the left you can find the beginning of the trail.
This beach is located the furthest from the port on the Eastern side of the island. You will find powder soft sands on this long, fairly isolated beach. This beach lacks coral due to its mostly sandy bottom. If you go the the right end of the beach and cross over you will find a corally beach with decent snorkeling.
The beaches inside the Asa cove extend forever and you can walk most of them. Nice sand, but not good snorkeling.
Take the road out of the back of Zamami Village to the highest point on the island. The observatory offers views of Zamami village to the south and Naha (on clear days) to the east. A small trail to the East will lead you to another viewpoint of Furuzamami Beach and Tokashiki. There is a bathroom here.
The highest observatory of the four on the western cliffs, Inazaki affords views of Aguni, Tonaki, and Kume Islands on clear days. Also, a good place to watch for whales during the winter months, though you won't see much because they'll be far away.
Accessed from the road that leads west out of Ama village. This observatory is only a 15-20-minute walk from Ama beach. This is a good place to get turquoise blue water photos of high tide at Ama beach (bring your polarizer!), also a nice location to watch the sunset. The spaciousness, wood benches, and table at Kaminohama make it a nice place for a picnic.
Chishi Observatory - the lone northern observatory. Nice view, good snorkeling below to the right. Nice bathroom.
Maririn (Marilyn) Statue
This dog statue along the seaside road to Ama has a counterpart at the Aka port in Shiro. Shiro and Maririn have a very famous love story that was made into a movie. Shiro's family moved from Zamami to Aka, but Shiro really missed Maririn, so he would swim to Zamami to be with her. He would stop on the small islands between to take a break. They had three litters of puppies together and attracted visitors from all over Japan who hoped to see Shiro, "the dog who was in love." This is also a great place to watch the sunset - and it's only a 10-minute walk from Zamami village.
Asa gets very few tourists because of the hill between it and Zamami, but it is a very nice little village. There are some authentic, old Okinawan houses within the village. It's worth exploring (on foot) the back alleys to the left of the main road when you reach the Asa port. Also, Asa is the gateway to the north and eastern ends of Zamami.
Worth wandering the back alleys, especially to see the overhanging flowers at the Patio Reef Hotel. Umimaru Photo Gallery is on the immediate right at the entrance to Ama. Two different fields of cows behind Ama village and Ama beach, as well. Also, the Robinson goats are popular. They are behind the Ama Community Center.
The Two Roads
There are two main roads on Zamami. One goes 6.5km past Furuzamami, through Asa, and to Toma at the eastern tip of the island. The other road leaves from the rear of Zamami village, goes up a steep hill, then turns left and stays on ridgetops to the West en route to an 8km loop back through Ama to Zamami. There are five observatories on this latter road and one on the former.
What To Do in Zamami
To get current info on dive shops and pricing stopping by Zamamia International guesthouse is a good option as well. The staff there can point you in the right direction for the best diving options as well as other need to know info about Zamami. Zamami is one of the best places in Okinawa for diving. The visibility ranges from 30-40m, which is incredible. Corals and fishes are beautiful.
Kayaking is a great way to see the Kerama islands, which are close together and usually well-protected from the weather. Most kayaking is through the kayak centers, which offer guided tours from a couple hours to an overnight camping trip. The only rental place on Zamami requires Japanese and is somewhat expensive.
Furuzamami - good, but many, many tourists snorkel here so there is a lot of damage to the coral
Ama - snorkeling not so great, but good chance to see turtles
Yuhina - good snorkeling beyond the reef, but it's a long swim. Occasional cool things on the reef, like anemones with clownfish (Nemo)
Chishi - good snorkeling out to the edge of the reef, where it's also good.
*many dive shops will rent mask/snorkel/fins for around ¥1100 for the set. Heartland in Zamami and Oki-Rentals in Ama are good examples. Furuzamami also rents gear, but it is a bit more expensive. Wetsuits and parasols are usually available for rent, as well.
At the end of December the first of 400-some humpback whales will start arriving in the Keramas to spend the winter here. They have traveled all the way down from the Aleutian Islands in Alaska to spend the season mating and calving in the warmer waters.
Zamami is the Okinawan hub for whalewatching, with 2.5-hour trips departing daily at 10:30am and 1pm. The Zamami Whale Watching Association employs spotters who spend the day with binoculars looking for whales from the islands' highest observatories, so the whalewatching boats take you straight to the whales. The trips cost ¥5250 for adults, kids 12 and under are ¥2625. Unfortunately there are not group discounts. Sunset whalewatching trips are by reservation only and require a minimum of two guests, though there is often enough demand on beautiful weekend evenings.
The season begins in January and runs through the end of March. Usually the majority of the breaching takes place near the end of January and throughout February. The calves are born in March. Also, Zamami has the Whale Watching Festival which is usually the last weekend of March.
Visit Uninhabited Islands
Gahi and Agenashiku are the pretty, sandy islands seen in front of the Zamami harbor. There is a boat that will shuttle you there for ¥1500/person. Organize through the Zamami Information Desk at the port.
Zamami Brave Boats
Rent a small boat with a small outboard motor, guide included (unsure if he is in a separate boat). Inquire at Zamami Rental Car.
Rates: 2hr:30min: ¥5500, 1 day: ¥10,000
If you are American, you need an International Driver's License to rent a 50cc scooter (you need an "A" stamp to rent a 100cc scooter, which will allow two passengers). If you are from Switzerland, Germany, France, Italy, Taiwan, Belgium, Sweden, or England, your home country's license will work for a 50cc scooter. If your country is not listed, you'll have to research (and bring documentation) if your driver's license will suffice. Listed from cheapest to most expensive:
Zamami Rental Car - Cheapest for everything, only place to get a car:
|Zamami Rental Car||1 hour||2 hours||3 hours||4 hours||6 hours||12 hours||24 hours|
|50cc Scooter (Bike)||-||¥2000||¥2500||-||¥3000||¥4500||-|
Oki Rental - In Ama (good if you are camping or staying there):
|Okinawa Rental||1 hour||3 hours||6 hours||24 hours|
|50cc Scooter (Bike)||¥1500||¥2500||¥3500||¥4500|
Bicycle/Scooter Ishikawa - halfway up the main street of Zamami, on the right. Open 8:30am - 9:00pm.
|Ishikawa||1 hour||3 hours||6 hours||9 hours|
|50cc Scooter (Bike)||¥1500||¥2500||¥3500||-|
|100cc Scooter (Bike)*||¥2500||¥3500||¥4500||-|
Kaniku - On the road to Furuzamami on the east side of Zamami village, just past the river on the right.
|Kaniku||1 hour||3 hours||6 hours||9 hours|
|50cc Scooter (Bike)||¥1500||¥2500||¥3500||-|
|100cc Scooter (Bike)*||¥2500||¥3500||¥4500||-|
*Remember to rent the 100cc Scooters you'll need a motorcycle license or an "A" stamp on your Intl. Driver's License