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Twelve Hours in Paradise: A Day Trip to Zamami Island

Among the southern islands of Okinawa, Zamami is one of the most inviting: a beautiful landscape with stunning beaches, but close enough to Naha that it makes for a reasonable day trip. Once part of the Ryukyu Kingdom, Zamami has a fascinating history all its own, but it’s now known mostly for chilled out beach vibes, snorkeling, and whale watching.

  • Twelve Hours in Paradise: A Day Trip to Zamami Island

    Twelve Hours in Paradise: A Day Trip to Zamami Island

    Ferries run several times a day from Tomari Port in Naha, and there is the option of hopping the high-speed catamaran “Queen Zamami.” The area around Zamami Port is the island’s “downtown,” home to most of the restaurants and hotels, as well as car and bike rental services and shuttle buses out to the beaches. Once you arrive, check the schedule for the ferry back to Naha, but you must be flexible!

    Twelve Hours in Paradise: A Day Trip to Zamami Island

    Twelve Hours in Paradise: A Day Trip to Zamami Island

    And, let’s not bury the lede - let’s get to those beaches. A 20-minute walk from where the ferry from Naha lets off lies Furuzamami Beach. If you don’t fancy the walk, a bus runs from the port to the beach (300 yen, runs intermittently), and, if you plan to rent umbrellas and chairs, or want to go snorkeling, stop by the vendors around the port, because many operate their own shuttles out to Furuzamami. In the high season, the beach can be a bit hectic in the afternoon, so it makes a great first stop, if you’re arriving in the morning from Naha.

    Twelve Hours in Paradise: A Day Trip to Zamami Island

    Twelve Hours in Paradise: A Day Trip to Zamami Island

    Once you get set up at the Furuzamami, time can seem to stand still, but it’s worth dragging yourself from the white sands and sunshine to go snorkeling. The clear, shallow waters and plentiful reefs have many destinations for divers and snorkelers: some spots can be accessed from the beach, but guides with boats are available to take you out into the islands that surround Zamami island closeby. If you’re feeling more ambitious, depending on the season, whale-watching tours are a great way to spend an afternoon.

    Twelve Hours in Paradise: A Day Trip to Zamami Island

    Twelve Hours in Paradise: A Day Trip to Zamami Island

    Zamami is a great island to explore, but it’s just large enough that exploring on foot doesn’t quite do it justice, and much of that exploring involves uphill climbs. Renting a bike is a great way to see more of the island, but consider renting one of the 50CC scooters. Depending on your nationality (Americans require an international driver’s license, unfortunately), only a driver’s license from your home country is required. A scooter is a great way to hit the other beaches on Zamami Island. A simple itinerary is to head from Zamami Port to Ama Beach, stopping by the statue of Marilyn, "Zamami's Hachiko."

    Twelve Hours in Paradise: A Day Trip to Zamami Island

    Twelve Hours in Paradise: A Day Trip to Zamami Island

    The central Zamami Port area is fairly sleepy in the low season but picks up when the weather turns frigid in the rest of Japan and the guesthouses and hostels fill up. The vibe is easygoing and there are restaurants, bars, and cafes to duck into, once you’re done soaking up the rays.

    Twelve Hours in Paradise: A Day Trip to Zamami Island

    Twelve Hours in Paradise: A Day Trip to Zamami Island

    Before hopping the ferry back to Naha, get one final meal on the island. Umibaru Shokudo is a highly regarded spot for Okinawa soba. The squid-ink soba looks dramatic but the soba with yomogi is the real treat. If you time things right, you’ll be back in Naha in time to enjoy the nightlife.

    Zamami Island
    Address
    Okinawa Prefecture Shimajiri-gun Zamami-son
    Phone
    Furuzamami Beach
    Address
    Okinawa Pref. Shimajirigunzamamison Zamami
    Phone
    Ama Beach
    Address
    Okinawa Pref. Shimajirigunzamamison Ama
    Phone
  • Umihatake Dining Hall
    Address
    Okinawa Pref. Shimajirigunzamamison Zamami 124
    Phone
    0989873757
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