Zamami Island (座間味島, Zamami-jima) is the second largest of the Kerama Islands. It is a highly rated beach destination, known for its beautiful white sand and clear waters, which are ideal for swimming, snorkeling and diving. The popular beaches are within walking distance from the village which surrounds the port, while observation decks dot the hilly, forested interior of the island.
Beachgoers do not have to travel far as the two main beaches on Zamami are about 20 minutes on foot from the port. For those who prefer a little more seclusion, not far from Zamami Port are the two small uninhabited islands of Gahi and Agenashiku. The two islands can only be reached by a five minute boat ride (no fixed schedule, 1500 yen for a round trip) and offer excellent sunbathing and snorkeling opportunities and no facilities.
The best time to go swimming in Zamami is between May and October. From December to March, the air temperatures can drop to levels below 20 degrees Celsius which many people will consider too cool for swimming. The beaches offer visitors plenty of swimming and snorkeling opportunities, with a variety of marine life found as close as 10 meters from shore.
Tour companies offer a multitude of marine activity tours including glass boat rides (about 6,000 yen for two hours), diving (about 15,000 yen for two hours) and stand-up paddling (about 10,000 yen for two hours). Shops near the beaches also rent snorkeling and beach equipment.
20 minute walk east of Zamami Port
Located on the southeastern side of the island, Furuzamami Beach is the more popular of the two main beaches on Zamami Island. Clear waters and abundant marine life can be found near the shore providing excellent snorkeling and swimming opportunities. There are rental shops with beach gear and snorkeling equipment, a beach hut that also sells food, and toilet and shower facilities nearby.
20 minute walk west of Zamami Port
Ama Beach, the quieter of the two main beaches, is located on the southwestern side of the island facing the two uninhabited islands of Gahi and Agenashiku. Sea turtles swim in the waters around Ama Beach on occasion. The waters here are relatively shallow, and those who want to see coral and fish would have to swim or walk further out from shore. Toilet and shower facilities are available near the beach; however, food options are limited.
From January to March, whale watching boat tours are a popular attraction around Zamami Island. These tours take visitors to see the humpback whales that come from the northern Aleutians and Bering Sea to the warmer Okinawan waters to breed. Reservations can be made through tour companies or your accommodations. Whale watching tours depart from Zamami Port.
While marine activities make up the bulk of attractions at Zamami, hiking is also a pleasant way to get up close with the land-dwelling local flora and fauna. There are also a number of observatories spread across the hilly island which offer views of the island and the surrounding coastline:
30 minute walk north from Zamami Port
The Takatsuki Observatory stands on the hill above Zamami Village and offers views of the village and port in one direction and of the tail end of Zamami Island in the other.
30 minute walk west from Ama Beach
The Kaminohama Observatory is about 1.5 kilometers from Ama Beach. It offers panoramic views of the southern coastline of Zamami Island as well as a view of the two uninhabited islands, Gahi and Agenashiku.
60 minutes walk north from Zamami Port
The Inazaki Observatory is located on the northern side of Zamami Island, offering panoramic views of the rugged northern coastline. It is about three kilometers from Zamami Port and takes about an hour to get there on foot.
How to get to Zamami Island
High speed boats and car ferries connect Naha's Tomari Port with Zamai Port via Aka Island. Car ferries generally depart once per day, and high speed ferries 2-3 times per day. The one way trip by car ferry takes about two hours and costs 2120 yen, while by high speed ferry it takes about one hour and costs 3140 yen. Round trip tickets are available for 4030 yen and 5970 yen respectively.
From other Kerama islands
Most ferries to/from Naha also make a stop on Aka Island, with the one way ride between Zamami and Aka taking 10-15 minutes and costing 200 yen by car ferry and 300 yen by high speed boat.
In addition, a small village ferry runs between Zamami and Aka several times per day (15 minutes, 300 yen one way). Some of these ferries continue on the Aharen Port on Tokashiki Island (35 minutes, 700 yen one way from Zamami). Reservations are not needed between Zamami and Aka; however, passengers to/from Tokashiki need to make reservations at least one day in advance.
How to get around Zamami Island
Zamami Village is the only sizeable village on the island and home to the majority of the local shops, tour companies and lodgings. Less central lodgings and tour companies typically offer pick-up services from the port. Alternatively, buses connect Zamami Port to Furuzamami Beach and Ama Beach (300 yen one way). It is also possible to rent cars, mopeds and bicycles.