Where in the World is Zamami Island?

About Zamami Island of Japan

Location of Zamami Island in Japan

Tropical destinations in Japan are not that common but that does not mean that they don’t exist. Zamami Island is one of the best places to visit for those who are looking for the most amazing tropical paradise in the country. The forever summer vibe in Zamami island is a definite tourist magnet making it one of the highest rated beach destination in the country.

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Zamami is a part of the Kerima group of Islands in Okinawa. It is located specifically in the Shimajiri district of the Kyushu region right on the Pacific Ocean. Zamami island has a total circumference of about 24 kilometers and an area of about 16 square kilometers. There are less than a thousand people inhabiting the islands making the population density at about 50 persons per square kilometer, a small ratio compared to other locations in Japan.

The Islands of Zamami-son

For tourists who are not familiar with the locality, things could get easily confusing. This is because, in Okinawa, there are two Zamamis – one is a village and the other is an island located in the Zamami village. However, that is all the technicalities available for that fact and it couldn’t get any more confusing than that.  

What is interesting about the area is the fact that Zamami is just one of the many islands of the Kerima group. Inside this large Kerima cluster is a place known as Zamami Village, a place consisting of a smaller subgroup of islands. This village of Zamami, also known as Zamami-son, is comprised of about twenty small islets with the principal islands as follows: Zamami, Aka, Geruma, and Fukaji island. Out of these four principal islands, only three are effectively inhabited – Zamami, Aka, and Geruma.

Zamami Island Weather and Climate

Okinawa is located in the southernmost islands of Japan, the part of the country which is closest to the equator. Because of this, the climate in the prefecture is generally subtropical where temperatures usually average at about 20 degrees Celsius.

The hottest temperatures in the islands usually average at about 30 degree Celsius. This high temperature usually happens during the summertime of July to August. The coolest temperatures experienced in the area is about 14 degrees to 15 degrees Celsius during the winter months.

For those who wish to enjoy the perfect weather in the islands, springtime would be the best time to go. The cool breeze of the winter air changes to a slightly warmer state. March and April are the best months to enjoy the beach when the beaches are neither too cold nor too hot to enjoy. By the month of May, the humid temperature will start squeezing out the rain from accumulating clouds.

During the months of September, October, and November most beaches in the area are usually closed. The entire region will experience the season of typhoons by the end of August, changing the behavior of the wind and the waves. Then by the months of October and November, the temperatures will start to become too cold for comfort. Then, during the month of December, rains will come slashing down from the skies once again.

Travel Guide to Zamami Island in Okinawa

Zamami Island Hotels

There are not that many hotels found in the Zamami village, it is more common to find an inn or a bed and breakfast. There are also transient apartments for rent. This is because of the fact that hotel rooms are often fully booked especially during peak seasons.

Other Zamami Island Lodging

Since there is the very limited availability of hotel rooms, bed and breakfasts, and the like people would need to stay close to their roots by just camping near the sea. There is no cause for worry as there are a number of camping grounds which provide their services free for the use of facilities. This is a simple, yet enjoyable, way to enjoy a relaxing vacation.

Zamami Island Transportation

Zamami Island Ferry and Bus transport

Since Zamami village consists of a number of islands, the best way to reach each of these would be by boat or ferry. The most popular ferry service in the area would be the Queen Zamami passenger ferry. This takes travelers on a quick trip from the Port of Naha to the Port of Zamami in about 50 to 90 minutes. This ferry can take individuals to boat terminals, where tourists can hail the services of a boat for a day. This transportation method can also take individuals to different islands within the day. Once in the main Zamami island, there are local buses that take individuals from the port to beaches in the area. People can also take a car instead of a bus, but car rentals can be quite expensive.

Zamami Island Airport

The airport nearest Zamami island would be the Kerama airport which is located on Fukaji island. This is a third class airport which means that the flights to and fro Kerama would be quite limited.  A ferry boat ride might be needed to take an individual from Fukaji island to Zamami. This particular airport serves most islands located in the Kerama group of islands.

Zamami Island Things to do and see

Zamami Island Snorkeling

The islands of the Zamami-son, just like many more locations in Okinawa are great diving spots because of the impressive preservation of their reefs. There are more than thousands of species of both marine creatures and coral reefs in the area – a great location to explore for diving enthusiasts. There are sea turtles, manta rays, sharks, and other creatures of the sea.

It is said that people who go to Zamami never forget the pristine waters, clean white sand, and deep sea treasures that it has to offer. It is truly a paradise both underneath and above the sea. For those who are afraid of going into the wild, there are exhibits and aquariums available in nearby mainland of Okinawa.

The Humpback Whales of Zamami Island

Although this attraction is not available all year round, the natural display and performance of humpback whales in the islands are one of the biggest traveler magnets on the island. Thousands of tourists take a trip to the islands every year just to experience the wonder of migrating humpback whales. Usually, these happen during early winter when the creatures are venturing out of the ocean for warmer waters and during early spring when they start going back to their old habitats due to the change in temperature.

There was a time in Zamami’s history when humpback whales did not visit the island due to the widespread whaling in the area. However, it has long been restricted and a growth in humpback whales have been evident since the late 1960s.

So popular is the viewing of humpback whales that there are observations decks and huts all around the island just for this event. On top of that, there are also local boats available for charter so travelers can experience the view up close. According to research, there is about 97% chance of watching a humpback from the Zamami port.

Zamami Island Camping

In relation to the island’s popularity with whale watching, diving, and snorkeling, most tourists usually prefer camping out on the beach. There are resorts and hotels available in the area but these are usually quite pricey. The cost of the accommodation will surely affect the activities an individual can do on the island since most activities come with an incredible price.

Because of this and the popularity of camping in the area, beaches in the island have developed camping grounds and areas. One of the most popular camping locations in Zamami would be Ama beach. Usually, rental of a small tent costs about 1,000 yen per night and a large family sized tent costs about 2,500 yen per night. Also, the place is quite well accommodated which is why there are toilets, showers, and even common kitchens in the area.

Tourist Destinations in Zamami Island

Aka Island

This island is one of the principal islands of Zamami village and is also known for its beautiful beaches. A lot of people enjoy going to Aka island during the month of June when the rainy season in the area begins to end. Among the popular beaches in Aka island would be the Nishihama beach which is a popular place to enjoy camping, diving, and snorkeling.

What a lot of tourists love about this place is its rural vibe. Unlike other beaches in Okinawa, beaches in Aka island may be the most virgin or unspoiled of all. There are not that many convenience stores and supermarkets which is why a tourist would need to immerse themselves in local wet markets for food. It gives a relaxing, laidback experience for people tired and stressed from the city life.

By Rickard Törnblad (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Since the island is quite small there is only one big hotel in the area. There are a number of guest houses and bed and breakfast inns available as well. For those staying in the islands for a length of time, there are apartments available as well. However, during peak season rooms in these places are usually fully booked. Regardless of the scarcity of accommodation, a full day tour of the island is worth every minute. The island is easy to access via the Zamami ferry.

Furuzamami Beach

The perfect beach getaway to Okinawa would be a visit to the Furuzamami beach in Zamami village. With a total length of about 700 meters, this long beach in Zamami village is made up of white sand and crystal blue water. It is also very easy to swim in the area since the water is quite shallow and corals are only within reach. This is a popular snorkeling spot for both tourists and locals.

A full day rental of snorkeling gear usually falls at a rate of about 1,000 yen. Since the place is quite popular for its serene beauty, it is highly visited by tourists from all over the world. This has pushed local authorities to fully develop the area with public facilities which are always ready for use – these include providing toilets, showers, accommodations, and more in this once unspoiled paradise.  The beach is highly visited during the swimming season which is why there are a number of food stalls in the area at this time.

Ama Beach

This is one of the coolest locations in all of Zamami village because it has a slightly different character than most beaches in the area. Its terrain is flat and the water does not easily go deep unlike in other beaches in the area.

There is not much coral near the shore, making it easier and more comfortable to swim in. On top of that, it is a popular breeding ground for sea turtles. The viewing of these sea turtles is the main attraction of the Ama beach.

Tropical Goodies of Zamami Island

Since Zamami-son is a subtropical destination, it is also easy to expect a few tropical goodies from the islands. These are seasonal fruits and vegetables which are available in limited locations and limited durations in Japan. Often times, organic options for these cost a fortune! However, these seasonal goodies are common products in the islands.

Among these would be tropical fruits like passion fruits, mangoes, papaya, pineapples, and banana. These are local favorites which can get quite impressively expensive when they are in season. These are great healthy alternatives for ordinary snacks best served fresh and cool.

By Hashi photo (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

There are also some tropical fish and other seafood which are popular local delicacies. These include sea grapes which are great served fresh with lime – the salty goodness in contrast to the semi-sweet and sour flavor of limes is an explosion of flavor not many will forget. Of course, no one would forget fresh sushi and sashimi served in almost every seafood restaurant in the area. Some restaurants also serve different dishes with stingrays, crabs, lobsters, and more.