Zamami Island – Zamami is a small island in the Kerama archipelago, close to the main island of Okinawa in Japan. I honestly fell in love with this speck of land and I really recommend you visit the island if you happen to be around. There are beautiful beaches and breathtaking natural landscapes in Zamami Island. And if you’re lucky like I was, you’ll also get to swim with sea turtles. 🙂
More on that below! Let’s start with what you need to know as far as transportation and accommodation are concerned.
How To Get There
To get to Zamami Island, you will have to take a ferry from the city of Naha, which is the largest city in the Okinawa archipelago and is located on the main island. You’ll need to go to the wharf called Tomarin and take a boat to Zamami Island; it’s not far from the Miebashi train station. Take the monorail to that station and continue walking for 10 minutes to reach the port.
You can’t buy your ticket online so you’ll have to do it ahead of time on the day you’re going to be leaving for Zamami or a few days prior to that.
There are two transportation services that cover the trip from Naha to Zamami, the first is called Ferry Zamami (as simple as that) and the other is called Queen Zamami. The main difference between the two is the speed of the boat. The first boat makes the trip in two hours and the second does it in just 50 minutes.
As you can imagine, the price is also different. A Ferry Zamami one-way ticket costs 2120 yen (~ $19) and around 4030 yen (~ $36.5) for the round trip. Children and groups can travel at discounted prices. If you opt for a fast Queen Zamami trip, a one-way ticket will cost you 3140 yen (~ $28.5) and 5970 yen (~ $54) for the round trip.
I wasn’t in a hurry so I took the Zamami Ferry and everything went very well. The boat gets to the island of Aka first, around 11:30AM, then heads to Zamami Island which is just nearby. You will get off the boat around 12PM. The two-hour boat trip is really nice so enjoy the view as much as you can.
The same boat then leaves Naha at 2:30PM without stopping by Aka and arrives in Naha at around 4PM. So it doesn’t leave you that much time to wander around Zamami Island. I recommend you stay the night or even spend a few more days on the island if you can. It was 3 nights for me and I really enjoyed myself. Here are some accommodation options if you happen to be looking for a hotel!
Accommodation can quickly become a problem in Zamami because it is a small island and there’s only a handful of hotels to choose from. I learned it the hard way when I had to sleep under the stars during the last night I spent on the island. It was memorable but it’s not worth a nice bed. 🙂
So book your room ahead of time to make sure you have all the comfort you need. I recommend the Okinawa Resort hostel which is right next to the wharf and close to the most beautiful beaches of the island.
If the previous hostel is full, you can try to book at Shima Stay holoholo which is also in the same area.
You can enjoy the beautiful view from the terrace of Shima Stay during breakfast. 🙂
You’re good to go to Zamami Island! The small port is going to be our first stop.
Zamami Island Okinawa – The Port
Exact location : https://goo.gl/maps/Rj7Kqpk2cqu
When you arrive on the island, you’ll find yourself in a charming port with only a few fishing boats. The island is quite small so commercial activities are usually centered around the port. You will find small supermarkets and restaurants to eat at.
One of my favorite restaurants is right in front of the port, give it a try!
They only sell fish-based dishes but they are cheap and really delicious. They make the best tuna sashimi I have ever had and it only cost me 500 yen (~ $4.5)!
The restaurant gets its supplies directly from the fishermen of the port, that’s why everything tastes so good. 🙂
Zamami Island Okinawa – Furuzamami Beach
Exact location : https://goo.gl/maps/QuUGpwpDJrM2
Furuzamami Beach is the most famous beach of the island and it’s also one of the most beautiful. You can walk there from the port; it should take 15 to 20 minutes. The road is paved so you’ll get there easily.
At some point, you will start going up a hill so you will have an absolutely gorgeous view of the bay and you will be able to see other nearby islands in the distance.
Once at the beach, you can swim in crystal clear water. I have rarely seen such clear water. Parasols are available for those who don’t like to stay in the sun too much. There is also a small seaside restaurant as well as a shop for renting masks, snorkels and fins.
Furuzamami Beach is a heavenly place and I went there at least once a day for a quick swim. It’s like being in the Philippines! 🙂 Come to think of it, it’s not so surprising because Okinawa is about the same distance from the Philippines as it is from Japan.
Zamami Island Okinawa – Ama Beach
Exact location : https://goo.gl/maps/Ti78DRGyDrt
Ama Beach is another must-visit beach on Zamami Island. You can walk there from the port and it should take around 20 minutes. At some point, you will come across a dog statue. I didn’t really understand what it represented…
So I asked around and people told me about it. The dog you see in the picture above is Marilyn. The neighbors of Marilyn’s owner had a dog named Shiro and both lived on Zamami. But Shiro’s owners eventually move to the island of Aka which is about 3 kilometers from Zamami. It’s the island in the background of the picture below, on the left.
After they leave, Marilyn’s owner notices that his dog runs away from the house in the morning and gets back in the evening, soaking wet. One day, he decides to follow him to see what’s going on. He discovers that every day, Marilyn goes to visit Shiro on Aka Island, swimming the 3 kilometers that separate the two islands.
The locals found the story very touching so a statue of Marilyn was built on Zamami, as well as a statue of Shiro on Aka Island to immortalize their story. You can’t beat a dog at loyalty, can you? 🙂 This story is also reminiscent of the dog Hachiko whose statue is in Shibuya, Tokyo.
But yeah, Ama Beach is also great so give it a try!
What’s also particular about Ama Beach is the presence of sea turtles. I went for a swim there but saw nothing the first time. The second time, I saw two beautiful turtles swimming peacefully right next to me. They were not scared but you have to avoid touching them or swimming too close to them. Here are some rules you can follow:
Try to respect wildlife wherever you are so that these beautiful creatures are protected. 🙂 FYI, here’s a blog post about starfish that everyone should read.
And for more beach recommendations in Japan, make sure you read this blog post: Japan Beaches.
Zamami Island Okinawa – The Best Observatories
There are many hills on Zamami Island and they make great observatories. You can visit several wooden cabins like the one you see above. Here are two of the most beautiful observatories on the island:
They are located quite far from the port so I walked around the island to visit them one by one. You’ll probably need the whole day to go around the island so don’t forget to keep yourself hydrated.
There’s another great one called the Inazaki Observatory, which is located north of the island. Between the months of December and April, you can watch a humpback whale ball off the island. They can be up to 14 meters long and there was a point in time when they completely disappeared because of whaling. In 1986 though, a female whale was seen giving birth off Zamami Island. Since then, the entire community of the island did its best to protect the whale. They saw the population increase steadily to reach more than 600 animals today!
I went to Zamami in May so it was too late for me to see them but if you go there during the right season, you can check at Okinawa Resort for whale watching tours.
That’s it for Zamami! It really is an amazing place. It was truly memorable and I cannot wait to visit it again.
If you have questions or comments, feel free to post them down below.
See you around for more adventures in Asia!
PS: If you are looking for more beaches in Okinawa, feel free to read this article: Okinawa Beach.