Zamami is your tropical playground.
In Zamami, nature is king. The ocean and islands’ beauty is unprecedented. The waters of this national park are some of the clearest in the world, at times with visibility over 30 meters (100 feet). The islands themselves are home to unique and stunning species of birds as well as the native Kerama-Jika deer brought to the islands over 400 years ago. The pristine white-sand beaches, the point at which land meets sea, hug the coral-filled coastline and provide a space for baby sea turtles to take their first few steps.
Needless to say, anything and everything that there is to do in Zamami revolves around the village’s incredible nature. Year round, the aforementioned beaches are one of the primary attractions. Zamami’s waters feature coral reefs and schools upon schools colorful species of tropical fish. Whether you spend your time in the water snorkeling or diving, sea kayaking and standup paddleboarding on top of the water, whale watching, Nordic walking, fishing, bird watching, etc., you are guaranteed a chance to experience the incredible nature of this national park up close.
Zamami has been first and foremost as a diving destination. Since the 1970s, Zamami has been known worldwide as a “mecca” for diving, and in recent years that fact still holds true. For such a small island village with a total population of maybe 900 residents depending on the season, Zamami Village has a disproportionately large number of diving shops. These shops offer half-day and full-day fun dives, evening dives, “discovery dives” for those without licenses, etc. Each shop has highly experienced staff with impressive credentials of their own. For example, one diving service provider has worked as a well-known underwater photographer in the past. The proximity of Zamami’s coral reefs allows for more time diving and less time spent on the boat.
As such a famous diving location, Zamami is also world-class snorkeling hot spot. Many local divers even claim that the snorkeling in Zamami is just as good as diving. Zamami’s turquoise waters support a vast coral ecosystem that extends right up to the islands’ beaches. The shallow waters and abundance of coral allow visitors to experience top-notch snorkeling at their leisure right from the beach! For the full snorkeling experience (not requiring a license and less of a financial burden than diving), many shops run boat-snorkeling tours. Boat snorkeling allows participants to access snorkeling areas otherwise to far to swim to on one’s own. Boat snorkeling also enables those snorkeling to experience multiple snorkeling spots in one trip. Without the superfluous gear required for diving, snorkeling really provides a sense connectedness to the surrounding nature. While many of the diving shops offer boat snorkeling tours, there are even a few snorkeling-only specialty services.
Sea Kayaking & Standup Paddleboarding
Sea kayaking and standup paddleboarding dominate the water-surface activities in Zamami. Standup paddleboard is an off-shoot of surfing in which participants propel themselves over the water while standing on a large board and using a single-bladed paddle. It is a Hawaiian-born sport, and its surfing roots come to the forefront when advanced athletes take to riding waves. Zamami is the perfect venue for both sea kayaking and standup paddleboarding. The calm waters surrounding and in between Zamami’s over 20 islands are some of the clearest in the world with visibility over 30 meters (100 feet) at times. The sea kayaking and standup paddleboard tours often take their customers from the main island out to the uninhabited islands, snorkel, and then paddle back. In addition to the tour services, visitors have been known to bring their own gear to explore all that Zamami has to offer on their own.
Other activities at sea include fishing, glass-bottom boat tours, whale watching, sailing, etc–all activities that are enjoyed by visitors year round. See the associated page for each activity under the “Play” menu above. Whale watching is a particularly popular adventure to be undertaken in Zamami as pods of humpback whales make their way down from the North each winter. The whales favor the shallow waters around and between Zamami’s islands to breed and raise their young. The proximity of the whales to the islands ensures a near 100% chance of spotting a whale, long whale-watching times, and stunning performances by the whales themselves.
Next, we have the beaches–another major draw for visitors to Zamami. Zamami Island has two primary beaches: Furuzamami Beach and Ama Beach. Furuzamami Beach is a long, coral-filled beach perfect for relaxing on the soft white sands or snorkeling in the turquoise water. Furuzamami Beach is a 2-star destination in the Michelin Guide Japan–a testament to its beauty and potential for fun. Furuzamami Beach has a small set of facilities providing food, beverages, rental gear, umbrellas, beach chairs, and more. Just make sure to wear enough sunscreen and to take enough liquids and salt to prevent heat stroke.
Ama Beach is the second main beach on Zamami Island. Ama Beach has less coral along the beach than Furuzamami, but sea turtles are often found swimming along its shores. Ama Beach’s coral is a bit further out, so the sea turtles and the stunning million-dollar views are the area’s main attractions. The scenery from Ama Beach is beautiful. Right next to Ama Beach is the Ama Beach Campground. The Kaminohama Observation Deck is a stone’s throw (or 20-minute walk) from Ama Beach. There are bathrooms and showers (please pay the small fee to use the showers) at the campground, a small parlor for food, and a rental shop nearby.
The beaches are officially open from the beginning of April until the end of October and are staffed by professional lifeguards during this period. The facilities at Furuzamami Beach also operate within that time frame. The water is plenty warm (upper 20C, 80F) until the end of November and the air temperature is fairly warm (low 20s or low 70s) even in March. There are plenty of visitors who make use of the beaches year round. Both beaches are approximately a 20-minute walk from the port. However, the road to Furuzamami Beach is quite hilly and taking the village-run bus or the taxi is highly recommended during the scorching summer months. The road to Ama is flat and runs along the water. It is a very pretty walk / bike ride and recommended for those who want to take pictures.
Aka Island‘s primary beach is Nishibama Beach (about a 20-minute walk from Aka Port). Nishibama Beach is similar to Furuzamami in that it is very long, but similar to Ama in that its thriving coral is a little bit far from the shore. Nishibama Beach features facilities like Furuzamami Beach.
Many visitors enjoy going around to all of the observation decks on Zamami / Aka Island during their visit. Zamami, and the rest of the Kerama Shoto islands, were designated a national park not only due to the immense amount of aquatic life that the ocean here supports, but also for Zamami’s amazing scenery and views. While visiting all of the observation decks generally requires a car or scooter due to the islands’ mountainous terrain, there are a couple of viewing points within do-able walking distance.
During the cooler fall, winter, and spring months, bird watching and Nordic walking (hiking) are popular activities as well.