The Kerama Islands National Park
The Kerama Island chain in which Zamami is situated was named Japan’s 31st national park on the 5th of March 2014. It is the second national park to be designated in Okinawa, after Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park in the Yaeyama Islands. Along with the transparency of the water and stunning ocean views that make the Kerama Islands famous, they are also home to some 250 species of coral and a diverse array of living creatures supported by this ecosystem. The surrounding ocean is also an important breeding ground for humpback whales, which is why the national park comprises an area of 7km extending out from the coast.
The Kerama Islands boast some of the clearest waters in the world, so much so that the beautiful and distinctive color of the ocean is famously known as “Kerama Blue.” It is also said that 62% of Japan’s reef-building coral species are found in the Kerama Islands. As the area is also a spawning ground for sea turtles, it is not unusual to encounter them while diving or snorkeling.
Zamami is a small island with a population of roughly 900 people, but it has drawn attention from divers all over the world. A wonderful experience is waiting for you on Zamami Island!
What to do in Zamami
Zamami offers a wealth of activities all year round. To get the most out of your experience, you should spend a little time before your trip planning what to do.
Zamami is world-renowned as a top spot for scuba diving. Besides diving, you can enjoy stand-up paddling (SUP), sea kayaking, a ride on a glass-bottomed boat, and plenty other activities. There are also tours of the coral reefs available, where besides the brightly-colored coral and diverse species of tropical fish you might also come across sea turtles and manta rays.
Furuzamami Beach has been awarded 2 stars by the Michelin Green Guide. Here you can snorkel and swim, or enjoy beach attractions such as jet skiing or riding on a banana boat.
Ama Beach, on the west coast of the island, is a wide shallow beach that is a habitat for sea turtles. If you go snorkeling at high tide you have a chance of meeting one of them.
Although there is plenty to see snorkeling around Furuzamami or Ama Beach, if you are looking for something more then you should cross over to one of the uninhabited islands. You can take a boat to Amuro, Agenashiku or Gahi islands, which have even more coral and sea creatures than you will find at the main beaches.
Besides marine activities, there are lots of other ways to enjoy nature on Zamami Island.
There are a number of observation decks on the highest points of Zamami, each offering a uniquely breathtaking view. Guests wishing to visit the observation decks should consider renting a car or motorcycle as the roads are fairly steep.
The Zamami Whale Watching Association conducts tours each winter from December to March. Every year, a large number of humpback whales make the journey of thousands of kilometers from the Arctic Circle to the warmer waters of Kerama, where they breed and raise their young. Weather conditions permitting, you are almost certain to see a humpback whale during one of the association’s tours. Weighing in at almost 30 tons and up to 15 meters in length, these gentle giants love to give a dynamic performance for their audience.
If you are planning to take part in marine activities, it is advised that you book in advance.
The Zamami Village website has information on the tour companies listed here.