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Zamami

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Zamami is the primary island of Zamami Village, an island village comprising the western half of the Kerama Islands in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan. Akajima is also a part of Zamami Village.

Understand[edit]

Zamami Village is located 40 kilometers west of Naha, the capital of Okinawa Prefecture. Zamami Island is the largest island of this village and features white-sand beaches, extremely clear water (visibility at times over 30 meters), and abundant nature (coral reefs, fish, sea turtles, manta rays, humpback whales, rare birds, Kerama deer, and more). The village is a part of the recently designated Kerama-shoto National Park. It also has received recognition as a two-star destination in the Michelin Green Guide Japan and has been designated a "Wetland of International Importance" under the Ramsar Convention.

The village has a total of over 20 islands of which only 3 are inhabited. Zamami Island is the largest by land area and population with around 600 people, followed by Akajima with approximately 250 people, and Geruma Island with 60 or so people. Within Zamami Island are three communities: the main Zamami area (right next to Zamami Port), the Ama Hamlet (next to Ama Beach and the campground), and the Asa Hamlet (a quiet bay with turquoise water).

Get in[edit]

The most common way to get to Zamami Village is via the high-speed ferry ("Queen Zamami") from the "hokugan" north side of Tomari Port in Naha city on Okinawa Island. It takes approximately 50 minutes to reach the village. There are usually two departures each day with one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Throughout the year, the morning Queen Zamami leaves Tomari at 9:00 and reaches Zamami Port at 9:50. It stops at Akajima before heading back to Naha. From April until the end of September, the afternoon Queen Zamami departs Tomari at 16:00, stops at Aka before arriving at Zamami at 17:10, and leaves Zamami for Naha at 17:20. From October until the end of March, the afternoon Queen Zamami times are an hour earlier due to a faster sunset. The Queen costs ¥3140 one-way and ¥5970 round trip.

There is also one trip each day with a bigger ferry ("Ferry Zamami"). The Ferry Zamami departs Tomari Port daily at 10:00, unless there is an unusual change in schedule due to something like a school trip. It stops at Aka before arriving at Zamami Island at 12:00. The Ferry Zamami departs Zamami during the winter months at 14:00 and 15:00 during the summer months. The Ferry Zamami costs ¥2120 one way and ¥4030 round trip.

For the exact schedule, check the Zamami Village homepage[7] or call the ticket office at 098-868-4567. Note that the high speed ferry is often canceled in rough weather (waves higher than 3m). Also, the final schedule is determined daily by the ferry captains. The final schedule is listed on the village homepage[8]. You can also call and check at the aforementioned phone number. Call or visit the ticket office (in Tomari Port Terminal) to reserve tickets in advance. You can also reserve tickets online through the village homepage reservation system[9]

There is also a boat from Zamami to Akajima that runs four times a day. (¥300)

Get around[edit]

Zamami is a small island, but it is very hilly. It is possible to walk to the main beaches and a few observation decks, but to go around the entire island, something with an engine is recommended. There are multiple places to rent bicycles, motorbikes, and cars on Zamami.

There is also a bus service that runs between the port and the campground to the West and Furuzamami beach to the East. The bus costs ¥300. There is a large, van-type taxi on Zamami Island that can take you anywhere.

See[edit]

Zamami Island has multiple observation decks from which you can look over the village's many islands and turquoise waters. Within those waters are colorful fish, coral reefs, and sea turtles. In Zamami, you can still find traditional Okinawan-style homes made with wooden beams and red-tiled roofs.

Humpback whales return to give birth to their young, then nurture them in the waters around Zamami from January to March every year. There are many different whale watching tours available from Zamami port during that time. Whale-watching tours are organized by the Zamami Village Whale Watching Association. The Whale Watching Association is located right in Zamami Port and can be reached at Tel. 098-896-4141 Whale Watching Association[10]

Do[edit]

There are nice waters around the island so SCUBA diving is the most popular activity. Other options are snorkeling, sea kayaking, standup paddleboarding, and fishing.

Sea Kayaking[edit]

  • NatureLand Kayaks, Okinawa Prefecture Shimajiri-gun Zamami-son 426 zamami, 098-987-2187, [11]. Offers kayaking and Snorkeling tours  edit

Diving[edit]

The island has many diving services as has historically been the main tourist attraction.

Camping[edit]

There is a campground about a 15 minute walk from the ferry port on the beach with toilet, shower and bbq facilities. They also have some camping equipment to rent. The campground is in a grove of shady pine trees right on the beach.

Snorkeling[edit]

There are a number of diving and snorkeling points around the island but most snorkel at Furuzamami beach and the campground beach. There are also a number of boat-snorkeling service providers. Many of the diving shops also offer boat snorkeling if they are not otherwise booked full.

Geocaching[edit]

There are a number of geocaches on the island, most of them at the lookout points. http://www.geocaching.com

Zamami Festival[edit]

Zamami Festival is held usually at the end of the summer with Eisa dancers, dragon boat racing, entertainment, and fireworks.

Sabani Race[edit]

The annual Sabani Race from Furuzamami beach on Zamami Island to Ginowan in Okinawa runs the last weekend in June or the first weekend in July most years. The sabani race is usually run in conjunction with the yacht race from Ginowan Marina to Zamami port with the yacht race being held on Saturday and the Sabani race held on Sunday.

Buy[edit]

There are a few small grocery stores in the main Zamami Area. There is a gift shop in the Zamami Port Terminal that sells locally made goods and food.

Eat[edit]

There are restaurants open for lunch and dinner in the Zamami Area. There are no restaurants open year round in the other communities. The facility at Furuzamami Beach has two small parlors serving light food during the summer months from May until the end of October. Following a similar timeframe, there is another parlor near Ama Beach serving Okinawa soba, beer, and similar fare.

Drink[edit]

Zamami sells a special bayberry liqueur made from mountain berries collected on the island. You can purchase it in the grocery stores.

Sleep[edit]

There are many small-scale accommodation establishments on Zamami Island. Most of them are located in the main Zamami area by the port. There is also a campground at Ama Beach. The campground costs ¥300 per person per night to use the facilities and also offers camping gear rentals. The campground can be reached at Tel. 098-987-3259.

Contact[edit]

  • Tourist office, 098-987-2277 (), [12]. You can contact the tourist information center with questions. The official English tourist-information website is maintained by the village office.  edit

Stay safe[edit]

Unlike Okinawa Island there are no habu snakes on Zamami. When in the water, avoid touching anything. For example, touching the coral damages it, and you could cut yourself as it is very sharp. Okinawa is usually around or over 30 degrees Celsius in the summer with humidity near 100%. It might be good to make sure you have plenty of things like water and sunscreen / sun protection.

Get out[edit]

Take the boat to Akajima or go on a tour boat. See the Get In section above for detailed information.



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