Vegetarian's Japan Guide

A Guide to Zamami Island and the Michelin-Starred Beach

Aside from Tokashiki Island (渡嘉敷島), Zamami Island (座間味島) is probably the next most-visited island amongst the islands in Kerama Island National Park (慶良間諸島国立公園). Why? Because one of the beaches on Zamami Island was given a two-star rating by the Michelin Green Guide Japan! In addition to the Kerama-Blue colored beaches where sea turtles linger, Zamami Island is another spot in the area where you can see humpback whales from January to March!

© photo-ac.com

The highlight of Zamami Island has to be Furuzamami Beach. With its white sandy shore and azure seawater, the Michelin Green Guide Japan gave the beach a two-star rating!

It goes without saying that during the swimming season, many will visit Zamami Island for various watersports, including diving, SUP, kayaking and much more!

If you need a break from the water, hike up to one of the lookouts on Zamami Islands for a clearer view of the Keruma Islands group from the island’s observatory as Zamami Island is situated in the middle!

With hiking trails and camping grounds, Zamami Island is a great spot to enjoy nature (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Table of Contents

The above attractions on Zamami Island are listed roughly according to their distance to Zamami Port.

Refer to HERE for Zamami Island’s access Information.

Explore Zamami Island With a Guided Tour

If you prefer a guide to introduce you to the charms of Zamami Island, how about joining one of the below tours?

How to Get to Zamami Island

There are two ways you can get to Zamami Island: from Naha’s Tomarikō Ferry Wharf (泊港) or Tokashiki Island‘s Aharen Port (阿波連港).

Getting to Zamami Island from Tomarikō Ferry Wharf

From Naha’s Tomarikō Ferry Wharf, you can take Ferry Zamami (フェリーざまみ) or High‑Speed Ferry Queen Zamami (高速船クイーンざまみ). Please note that the Ferry Zamami will make a brief stop at Aka Island (阿嘉島) first. But from Zamami Island back to Naha, both Ferry Zamami and Queen Zamami will stop at Aka Island.

  • Ferry Zamami: One service per day
    • It takes around 120 minutes from Naha to Zamami Island by Ferry Zamami.
    • The cost to board Ferry Zamami:
      • For adults
        • One-way: 2,150 yen
        • Return: 4,090 yen
      • For children
        • One-way: 1,080 yen
        • Return: 2,060 yen
© photo-ac.com
  • Queen Zamami: Two services per day
    • It takes around 50 to 70 minutes from Naha to Zamami Island by Queen Zamami.
    • The cost to board Queen Zamami:
      • For adults:
        • One-way: 3,200 yen
        • Return: 6,080 yen
      • For children:
        • One-way: 1,600 yen
        • Return: 3,040 yen
    • The number of passengers that the ferry can take is limited. A reservation is recommended, especially in the summer.
    • You can board the ferry 30 minutes before departure time.

Refer to the official website HERE for seat availability and the timetable of the ferries. For the ferry fare, refer to HERE and scroll down past the map.

☛ A reservation is highly recommended in July and August. It can be made one month in advance by calling +81-98-868-4567. You can also make an online reservation HERE.
☛ Ferry Zamami is more suitable for those who suffer from motion sickness easily. The seats on the first floor are also better than the seats at the front of the ship on the second floor.

☛ Please board the ferry 10 minutes before departure time.
☛ Queen Zamami’s ferry terminal is not in front of Tomarin but it is around a 10-minute walk northwest of Tomarin.
☛ If you have made an online reservation, remember to get your paper-based ticket at the ticket counter.

How to Get to Tomarin

You can take the Okinawa Urban Monorail, Yui Rail (ゆいレール), and get off at Miebashi Station (美栄橋駅).

Tomarin is then around a 10-minute walk away from Miebashi Station.

Tip: if you plan on driving, it is best to park at the car parks at the block behind the Family Mart close to Queen Zamami’s ferry terminal. The car parks there are cheaper. However, arrive early if you plan to take the morning service around the rush hours.

Getting to Zamami Island from Aharen Port

If you have time to island hop, you don’t need to head back to Naha as you can visit Zamami Island from Tokashiki Island‘s Aharen Port, next to the island’s most popular beach, Aharen Beach!

  • Zamami Island can be reached by a 35-minute boat ride from Aharen Port.
  • The ferry that you need to take is called Mitsushima (みつしま).
  • The one-way cost to board Mitsushima is 800 yen.
  • The most up-to-date timetable is published on Zamami Village’s website HERE. You can translate it using Google Chrome’s translation function at the right of the address bar.
    • If you prefer the information to be written in English, you can refer to Tokashiki Village’s website HERE and scroll down to the end of the webpage.

Important: it is essential to make a booking if you want to board Mitsushima by calling +81-98-987-2614.

Getting to Zamami Island from Aka Port

You might have gathered that already. You can also visit Zamami Island from Aka Island by taking the:

  • Ferry Zamami
  • Ferry Mitsushima

The required time to travel between Zamami Island and Aka Island is 15 minutes. The cost is 300 yen for adults and 150 yen for children.

Important: Reservations cannot be made to travel between Zamami and Aka Port.

Zamami Island’s Profile

Zamami Island is the most populated island amongst the three inhabited islands in the Kerama Islands group. In fact, not only does it have the largest population, the coral reefs spread across Zamami Island’s beaches are the most extraordinary to many divers!

Apparently, the fine sand at many of Zamami Island’s beaches was naturally made from coral reefs!

© 沖縄観光コンベンションビューロー

The same as Tokashiki Island, Zamami Island is largely divided into three areas.

  • Zamami (座間味): where Zamami Port and many accommodation facilities and restaurants are located.
  • Asa (阿佐): where the ships from China would make a brief stop before reaching Okinawa’s main island. So it is not surprising that the architectural style of the Asa area has some Chinese influence.
  • Ama (阿真): where camping grounds and many lookouts are located.

Note that the weather at Zamami Island is hard to predict. You might still find it very cloudy despite the weather forecast being sunny. So don’t give up on your visit to Zamami Island just because the weather is forecasted to be rainy!

How to Travel Between Attractions on Zamami Island

While Zamami Island has sightseeing bus services, Zamami Village Bus (座間味村営バス), it only covers Zamami Port, Ama Camping Ground/Ama Beach, and Furuzamami Beach. So if you prefer not to take a taxi to get to your desired destinations, it is best to rent a car or motorbike.

But if you only want to visit Zamami Island’s two biggest beaches, Ama and Furuzamami, refer to the sightseeing bus timetable HERE. You can translate it using Google Chrome’s translation function at the right of the address bar.

  • The cost of boarding the Zamami Village Bus is:
    • 300 yen for adults
    • 150 yen for children

Zamamimun Market (ざまみむん市場)

Zamamimun Market, just next to Zamami Port, is the best spot on Zamami Island to source souvenirs and local specialties. So if you want to bring something special back home, remember to leave enough time to shop there before boarding the return ferry!

  • Zamamimun Market is open from 9 am to 5 pm.
  • It is just at Zamami Port’s east terminal.

Tip: the shop tends to be busier before the ferry’s departure.

Furuzamami Beach (古座間味ビーチ)

© 沖縄観光コンベンションビューロー

As mentioned in the introduction, Furuzamami Beach on the south of Zamami Island is the island’s most popular spot. Thanks to its Michelin two-star rating, hundreds of thousands of tourists visit this beach for a holiday.

But that doesn’t mean the beach is packed! Since Furuzamami Beach is 3km long, you will surely have enough space on the white sandy shore to adore the Kerama-Blue-colored sea!

For more information about the beach and what to watch out for, refer to our article on Furuzamami Beach (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Ama Beach (阿真ビーチ)

While not as famous, Aama Beach is easier to get to from Zamami Port, and compared to Furuzamami Beach, it is a lot quieter. Also, sea turtles are frequently spotted at Ama Beach!

The beach is also a popular sunset scenery and star gazing spot. So book yourself a night’s stay at one of the cottages or BnBs close by! If you want to, you can even camp by the beach!

© 沖縄観光コンベンションビューロー

For more information about the beach and what to watch out for, refer to our article on Ama Beach (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Zamami Village Peace Monument (平和之塔)

On the way to Takatsukiyama Observation Deck, you will encounter a sad historical spot. The Zamami Village Peace Monument is where we are reminded of the importance of peace.

On the 26th of March 1945, Zamami Island was invaded by the U.S. army. The day also marked the commencement of the Okinawa War, where more than 1,200 people lost their lives at the Kerama Islands. The monument was built after the war to pray for the deceased to have a peaceful afterlife.

How to Get to Zamami Village Peace Monument

  • Zamami Village Peace Monument is around a 5-minute drive from Zamami Port.
  • You can also hike from Zamami Port, which will take around 10 to 15 minutes.

Takatsukiyama Observation Deck (高月山展望台)

If you want a clear view of Furuzamami Beach from above, head to Mt. Takatsuki (高月山), which has an altitude of around 1,347 meters. In fact, from Mt. Takatsuki, you can get an almost panoramic view of Zamami Island and its surrounding islands!

Takatsukiyama Observation Deck is located in an observatory park called Takatsukiyama Picnic Site (高月山園地). While there is only one observatory marked on Google Maps, there are actually two observatories on Mt. Takatsuki. Each of them will give you a different view of the spectacular ocean.

© photo-ac.com

From Observation Deck no. 1, you can see the beautiful arch shape of Agonoura Bay (安護の浦) clearly, with Mt. Ufudaki (大岳) as a backdrop, and a closer view of the other islands in the Kerama Islands group and Okinawa main island.

On the other hand, from Observation Deck No. 2, you can easily see that Furuzamami Beach and Shiru Beach are just separated by a big rock! The third inhabited island, Aka Island (阿嘉島), can also be seen from there (the island at the upper right in the photo). Aka Island’s Nishibama Beach (北浜) has many coral reefs and fish close to the shore, another popular snorkeling spot in the Kerama Islands.

From the pavilion close to Observation Deck No. 1, you will also get a wide view of the Zamami township and Zamami Port.

© photo-ac.com
© photo-ac.com

So when the sky is clear, make an effort to get to Takatsukiyama Observation Deck. It will make your visit to Zamami Island even more unforgettable!

For the history buffs, Takatsukiyama Observation Deck was where the U.S. military placed anti-aircraft guns after landing on Zamami Island on the 26th of March 1945.

Important: Especially in the summer, remember to bring insect repellent and apply sun protection often. Also, instead of sandals, sneakers are highly recommended.

☛ The sunrise from Takatsukiyama Observation Deck is stunning!
☛ The azalea season at Takatsukiyama Observation Deck is from late March to early April.
☛ You can check out the view from Takatsukiyama Observation Deck no. 1’s pavilion through the live camera HERE.
☛ There are toilet facilities and a drinking fountain there.

How to Get to Takatsukiyama Observation Deck

  • Takatsukiyama Observation Deck is around a 5-minute drive from Zamami Port. You can park your car in the parking lot.
  • You can also walk from Zamami Port, which will be a 30-minute hike.
    • Just note that some of the climbs are quite steep.
    • There is a trail that is mostly covered by trees, which is nice to trek either on the way up or down.

Tip: your accommodation provider might be able to drop you off and pick you up to/from Takatsukiyama Observation Deck.

Kami no Hama Observation Deck (神の浜展望台)

Trekking west from Ama Beach, a terrace-style observation deck is above the coast. Renovated from an old observation deck in 2020, the spot that was renamed Kami no Hama Terrace (神の浜テラス) now has more space under the roof for us to enjoy the stunning panoramic ocean view there!

From Kami no Hama Observation Deck, you can see Ama Beach and the two uninhabited islands, Kahi Island (嘉比島) and Agenashiku Island (安慶名敷島), which both have a wealth of coral reefs growing around!

The terrace facing west is another great sunset spot on Zamami Island. In the summer, you can see the milky way in the night sky, making it a popular spot for stargazing.

How to Get to Kami no Hama Observation Deck

  • Kami no Hama Observation Deck is around a 10-minute drive from Zamami Port.
  • You can also walk from Zamami Port, which will be a 40-minute hike, but it may be tiring for most.
  • From Ama Beach, it will be around a 20-minute hike.

Unaji no Sachi Observation Deck (女瀬の崎展望台)

© photo-ac.com

The most popular sunset spot on Zamami Island is probably Unaji no Sachi Observation Deck. The sunset from there is so breathtaking that it was nicknamed Sunset Observatory (夕陽の展望台)!

Just a 3-minute walk on the promenade leading to the tip of the cape from the parking lot will get you to the pavilion on the cliff. From here, you can adore the scenery of the Kerama Blue-colored ocean decorated by coral reefs spreading below you, along with the magnificent landscape created by the rocky terrace covered by vegetation.

In fact, not only just from the observatory, as you can already feel nature’s magnificence when you walk on the promenade built against the cliff. Some even reckon that the scenery from the promenade is better than from the observation deck!

In winter, from early January to late March, the highlight would be the humpback whales that might swim past the sea near the observatory. If you are lucky, you might even be able to see a parent and a child whale!

☛ There are no street lights around Unaji no Sachi Observation Deck. Bring a flashlight if you want to enjoy the sunset scenery there.
☛ Especially on a windy day, watch your belongings closely. You won’t be able to retrieve them once they are blown away down the cliff.

How to Get to Unaji no Sachi Observation Deck

  • Unaji no Sachi Observation Deck is around a 10-minute drive from Zamami Port.
  • You can also walk from Zamami Port, which will be a 45-minute hike.

Tip: There is a toilet in the car park.

Inazaki Observation Deck (稲崎展望台)

Inazaki Observation Deck is on Zamami Island’s north. While the most you can see is the stunning ocean surrounding the island, it is the lookout you would want to visit from January to early April to test your luck!

And what kind of luck do you need? The luck for spotting a humpback whale as they travel south for the breeding season!

© photo-ac.com

The locals would search for whales from here. If one was sighted, the news would be communicated to the whale-watching boats via a handheld radio. Inazaki Observation Deck is thus also called the Whale Watching Lookout (^_-)-☆.

In addition, the sea north of Zamami Island is relatively rougher, enabling you to feel the power of nature!

Important: the second floor of the wooden observation deck is closed to the public during the whale watching season to allow staff to sight whales.

How to Get to Inazaki Observation Deck

  • Inazaki Observation Deck is around a 15-minute drive from Zamami Port.
  • If you want to hike there, it will take around 45 to 50 minutes. But note that there are many hilly roads.

Yuhina Beach (ユヒナの浜)

As Yuhina Beach is on a bay, the beach is shallow and the waves there are calm, suitable for a family holiday. Unlike Furuzamami Beach and Ama Beach, Yuhina Beach has a lot more rocky surface. Instead of diving, it is more of a beach for SUP or kayaking.

In addition to being an off-the-beaten-path spot on the island, Yuhina Beach is also a spot where couples would like to visit. It is said that if two people swear to spend the rest of their lives by the large rock dividing the beach, the Zamami Island’s guardian god will send his blessing.

Note that the sand on the shore isn’t fine, with a lot of small rocks mixed into it. However, you might be able to find star-shaped sand there.

☛ There are no lifeguards stationed at Yuhina Beach.
☛ The coral reefs are located around 100 meters offshore. You are unlikely to see fish if you don’t get that far either.
☛ It is hard to distinguish where you enter the water as the shore around the area all look pretty similar. So you might be on a completely different shore when you swim back to Zamami Island! In that case, you will need to return to the water and swim back to Yuhina Beach.
☛ Fins and dry snorkel are necessary if you want to dive at Yuhina Beach.
☛ There are no facilities or shops around nearby.

How to Get to Yuhina Beach

  • Yuhina Beach is around a 15-minute drive from Zamami Port.
    • The road leading to Yuhina Beach is earthen.
  • You can also walk from Zamami Port, which will take around 40 minutes.

Uhama (ウハマ, 大浜)

As Uhama is on the bay behind Ago Beach (安護の浦), the waves are relatively calm even on a windy day. So ever since trading started with China in 1372, the trading ships would be parked there when the weather was rough before shipping further to China.

When it is hot, there is shade around the windbreak at the back of the beach, making Uhama a perfect spot for a relaxing afternoon. As the weather cools down, see if you can find star-shaped sand on the shore!

Important: there are no shops and shower and toilet facilities at Uhama.

How to Get to Uhama

  • Uhama is around a 25-minute drive from Zamami Port.
    • There is a parking lot at the beach.

Chishi Observation Deck (チシ展望台) and Chishi Picnic Site (チシ園地)

Chishi Observation Deck on the north of Zamami Island is atop a 30-meter rugged cliff overlooking the coast and the beautiful horizon on the other end of the emerald blue ocean. The desolate landscape where only the sound of the wind and waves would echo at an impressive level. When the weather is clear, you can see as far as Aguni Island (粟国島).

On a hot summer day, the simple pavilion at Chishi Observation Deck is the perfect spot for a rest or even a picnic!

Moreover, Chishi Observation Deck is also a spot where you might see humpback whales in the winter and adore sunrise in the summer!

☛ You can go down to the beach from Chishi Observation Deck. It is also a spot suitable for diving and snorkeling. While there aren’t many fish around, many coral reefs live in the water around 100 meters from the cliff!
☛ You will get better lighting around noon.

☛ There are no street lights around Chishi Observation Deck.
☛ Especially on a windy day, watch your belongings closely. You won’t be able to retrieve them once they are blown away down the cliff.
☛ Remember to bring enough fluid during the summer.
☛ The path down to the beach is formed by larger rocks, which will be slippery and dangerous to walk on when wet.
☛ There are multiple small beaches underneath Chishi Observation Deck, so it would be hard to distinguish which beach you came from. It is best to find a more obvious item as a landmark and confirm its location multiple times as you swim further away.
☛ Fins and dry snorkel are a must if you want to dive at the beach down Chishi Observation Deck.

How to Get to Chishi Observation Deck

  • Chishi Observation Deck is around a 10-minute walk from Asa Village center (阿佐集落).
  • If you plan to visit Chishi Observation Deck from Zamami Port, it will be a 15-minute drive.

Tip: There are toilet facilities in the car park.

Ino Beach (イノーの浜)

In the Okinawan dialect, “Inoー” means “a shallow and calm sea surrounded by corals.” Living up to its name, Ino Beach is where various kinds of fish, shellfish, and seaweeds inhabit. It was thus nicknamed the Field in the Sea (海の畑).

If you are an experienced diver, you can encounter fish and shellfish that can hardly be seen at other beaches! It is no wonder why the locals love visiting Ino Beach!

☛ There are no facilities or shops around.
☛ The coral reefs at Ino Beach are located around 200 meters away offshore.
☛ During low tide, the seawater is very shallow (0 – 30cm) to swim to the coral reefs. But with a fin and fin strap, you can walk to the coral reefs, which takes about 5 to 10 minutes.
☛ It is best to use longer fins if you want to dive beyond the coral reef groups.
☛ Finding a route with fewer coral reefs is best if the tide has retreated on your way back. Waves can be created when the current hit the coral reefs.

How to Get to Ino Beach

  • Ino Beach is around a 40-minute drive from Zamami Port.
    • The roads to Ino Beach are earthen.
  • There is a free car park at Ino Beach.

Touma Beach (唐馬の浜)

Another hidden beach on Zamami Island is Touma Beach on the south end. It is a spot that would suit all divers regardless of their experience. But unlike most beaches on Zamami Island, most coral reefs can only be found offshore, while much medium-sized fish can be sighted from around 30 meters onshore. Clownfish can also be spotted too!

Tip: If you are after coral reefs, the right side of the beach might have more when your back is facing the sea.

But note that the white sand on the shore isn’t fine, and there are no nearby facilities or shops either.

How to Get to Touma Beach

  • Touma Beach is around a 20-minute drive from Zamami Port.
    • The roads to Ino Beach are earthen.
  • If you want to trek your way there, it will take around 90 minutes.

Tip: If you want to drive to Touma Beach, it is probably best to park your car at Ino Beach and walk from there. Due to the sandy terrain, it is a frequent rescue area due to vehicle derailments.

The Three Uninhabited Islands Close to Zamami Island

While Michelin Green Guide Japan gave Zamami Island‘s Furuzamami Beach a two-star rating, it isn’t a beach where you want to snorkel anymore if you are experienced. Unfortunately, the beach now has a designated swimming area marked by lane dividers. Because the coral reefs inside this restricted area would not be as stunning, snorkeling at other beaches is highly recommended if you are experienced.

So if you are after a few spots to enjoy the underwater world, refer to our article on Snorkeling Around Kerama Islands’ Hidden Uninhabited Islands!

Click the photo for more information about snorkeling around the uninhabited islands close to Zamami Island.

Exploring Tokashiki Island, Another Island in the Area to Enjoy Nature and the Kerama-Blue Beaches

Click the photo for more information about Tokashiki Island

Southeast of Zamami Island, Tokashiki Island is the biggest island in the Kerama Islands group. The island that can be reached by ferry from Zamami Island also has a wealth of scenic spots and beautiful beaches for you to explore!

For more information, refer to our article on Tokashiki Island!

Discover Other Islands in the Keruma Islands National Park

The Kerama Islands are a subtropical island group comprising more than 20 islands. If you have time, you can island-hop the three inhabited islands and even the few uninhabited islands to enjoy what the national park has to offer.

For more information, refer to our article on Keruma Islands!

Click the photo for more travel islands in Keruma Islands!