While the 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, as the beach now has a designated swimming area marked by lane dividers. Because the coral reefs inside this restricted area aren’t as beautiful, snorkeling at other beaches is highly recommended for experienced snorklers.
The best beaches for snorkeling or diving in the region are probably around Zamami Island’s uninhabited islands. As many tourists are unaware of these hidden gems or how to get there, the coral reefs’ condition close to these islands is exceptional!
The Uninhabited Islands Close to Zamami and Aka Island
There are a couple of uninhabited islands between Zamami and Aka Island. Although uninhabited without facilities, they are a paradise for experienced divers.
- Gahi Island (嘉比島): where you encounter the most beautiful beach among the three islands.
- Amuro Island (安室島): the island most suitable for snorkel beginners.
- Agenashiku Island (安慶名敷島): where the Coral Reef’s Forest is located.
Important: Not all coral fish around the uninhabited islands are safe to be close to. Some might be poisonous. So if you are not sure, please keep a safe distance.
How to Get to the Uninhabited Islands Close to Zamami and Aka Island (無人島渡し)
Tip: Some accommodation providers can take you to these uninhabited islands!
To get to the uninhabited islands mentioned above, three operators provide boat services if they have two or more passengers. The boat can depart from either Zamami Port or Furuzamami Beach. Depending on where you depart from, return to, and which island you want to visit, the return can cost between 1,500 yen and 3,000 yen.
Please note that the costs mentioned above only cover the boat trip. It doesn’t include any diving equipment rental, and a tour guide won’t accompany you either.
Below are the links to the three boat operators:
- Island Power (アイランドパワー)
- Zamami Sea Club
- You can send them a web enquiry in English.
- Rental Shop Higa (レンタルショップ比嘉)
- Note they don’t have English-speaking staff.
☛ If you are traveling by yourself, you should still be able to make a reservation if there are other bookings received.
☛ You can most likely rent snorkeling equipment from the boat operators. Beach tents and umbrellas should also be rentable.
☛ If you run into any issues, the staff at Zamami Tourism Association (座間味村観光協会) can speak English and should be able to assist you.
By Joining a Kayak or SUP Tour
You can also join a Kayak or SUP tour and paddle your way to one of the uninhabited islands.
Drifer provides either a one-day or a half-day tour from Zamami Island to the islands. As an experienced guide will accompany you, you don’t need to be worried about getting lost!
If you have time, join their one-day tour to explore the two uninhabited islands in one day!
If you prefer to Kayak, consider joining the tours held by Kerama Kayak Center. The one-day tour has lunch included and they can cater to those on a vegetarian diet. The tours held by Kerama Kayak Center are especially recommended for those who are not experienced in snorkeling.
What to Bring if You Want to Visit the Uninhabited Islands Close to Zamami and Ama Island
- Water, snacks, and sun protection. You won’t be able to purchase them as you visit these uninhabited islands.
- Rubber fins (the ones that you wear barefoot) and water shoes.
- A pair of cotton gloves if you wish to climb around the rocky terrains on the islands.
- A beach towel or beach blanket for you to lie on.
- If you stay at Kerama Beach Hotel (ケラマビーチホテル), you can rent a couple of items for free.
- A beach umbrella as shades at the beach on these islands is limited.
- Sun protection made from natural ingredients so it won’t damage coral reefs.
- A set of dry clothes.
Gahi Island (嘉比島)
Gahi Island is the westmost island amongst the three. You can snorkel on the east, north, and south coast.
- On the southeast coast, you should be able to see many coral reefs and fish around 10 meters offshore.
- On Gahi Island’s northeast, coral reefs grow close to shore so it will be hard to snorkel or dive during low tide.
- The current offshore can be fast.
- On the south coast, many coral reefs can be found around 80 meters offshore.
Gahi Island is a small island with a circumference of only 1.5km. While waiting for the returning boat’s arrival, you can stroll to the hill on the island’s south to admire the coral reefs from above, as well as the surrounding islands.
Amuro Island (安室島)
The biggest and eastmost island amongst the three. The best diving spot is off the coast of Amuro Ōhama (安室大浜) on the east. It is where a large number of coral reefs spread, especially from around 20 meters from the southern shore of Amuro Ōhama. Many fish can also be spotted there.
Please note that there is no coral reef on Amuro Island’s west coast.
Tip: Amuro Island is the best island for snorkeling beginners.
☛ The current flows between Amuro Island’s north and Zamami Island are fast, making diving dangerous.
☛ When the tide recedes sharply at low tide, a sandy road will appear and link Amuro Island with Zamami Island. Please avoid following the route as the road may disappear quickly, with the fast current washing you away.
Agenashiku Island (安慶名敷島)
Whilst Agenashiu Island is the island in the middle and is the smallest island amongst the three, it is where you will find the largest amount of tropical fish and coral reefs when you dive down the west coast, around 50 meters offshore! If you are a beginner, it would be safer to snorkel on the island’s northwest coast as the shallow water of about 1 to 3m continues from the shore.
The landscape of Agenashiku Island is quite interesting. If you bring a pair of water shoes or sandals, you can hike up the sea cliff into the jungle wherever possible.
☛ Visiting Agenashiku Island in the morning is recommended as many people choose to snorkel there in the afternoon.
☛ The area from around 50 meters offshore Agenashiku Island’s west coast is known as Coral Reef’s Forest (珊瑚の森). But this is only a spot for experienced divers/snorklers. The Coral Reef’s Forest is around 10 meters below the water’s surface. Long fins are a must to get there.
☛ Beyond where many coral reefs are around the west coast, the water would suddenly get deeper. So keep that in mind when you dive into the water.
☛ When the buoy is lying on the water’s surface, the tide there is fast. It is a warning for you not to snorkel or dive around there. Wait until it is able to stand back up before you go into the water.
☛ The east side of Agenashiku Island is unsafe for snorkeling as the current is fast and on the sea route of ferries.
Ijakaja Island (伊釈加釈島)
The sea between Ijakaja Island and Aka Island is known for its high chance of sighting giant oceanic manta rays, especially during high tide. The current between the two islands is usually faster, which brings an abundant plankton that attracts manta rays. If you visit Ijakaja Island via a tour guide, the boat will most likely make a brief stop where the manta rays are usually spotted, allowing you to dive down for your chance to encounter a manta ray.
You can book a tour to Ijakaja Island with Diving Team Anata no Kiyoshi (Diving Team あなたの清).
Discover the Stunning Attractions on Zamami Island
While you can spend the entire day snorkeling or diving close to the uninhabited islands, if you have extra time, how about spending a day on Zamami Island for the breathtaking views from various observation decks?
In winter, you might be able to spot a humpback whale too!
For more information, refer to our article on Zamami Island.