Zamami Paradise: Okinawan island highlighted by TripAdvisor’s top beach in Japan
After a prior trip to Zamami Island, I told myself I’d return to experience more of the island that features TripAdvisor’s top beach in Japan.
With the hope of enjoying the wonderful nature again, as well as visiting some parts of the island that I could not see last time, I hopped on a ferry from Naha and headed back to the island.
Booking a place to stay was tough, and with the recent news of the Furuzamami Beach being named the best in Japan, I expected a big crowd when I arrived.
Furumazami Beach, my first stop this time, still impressed me with its signature cocktail blue waters. It was filled with many more happy tourists than before, and it seemed well-deserving of the title of the best spot on Zamami Island. However, other locations I visited later on turned out to be legit contenders for that title.
Zamami’s northern coast features multiple observatories. About 3.5km from the port, reaching these via steep and narrow roads is much easier by car.
Chishi Observatory is located in the northeast part of the island. To get there, tourists need to take a road that goes around the east part of the island, passing by Furuzamami Beach and the Aka area. Standing on a hill, it commands a panoramic view of inlets and towering cliffs that are skirted at the bottom by a stretch of coral reefs and deep blue waters. Looking back, I could also see hills whose surface looked more like a field in Scotland than tropical jungles that typically cover mountains on Okinawa’s main island. The scene almost makes you forget that you’re in Okinawa.
Unaji no Sachi Observatory is at the west end of the island. It took me about 20 minutes from the port, going on a road that goes around the west side of the island. At the site, there is a promenade along a rocky hill that leads visitors to a viewpoint. The observatory presented a beautiful view of the ocean, which was dotted with small islands and a series of triangle rocks popping up like a dorsal fin of Jaws. According to the village’s website, this place is also known as a great place to view the sunset.
Inazaki Observatory, which is on the northern coast of the island, was a little further to the north from Unaji no Sachi Observatory. Had I been there in winter, this would have been a good spot to watch whales from ashore. Although I didn’t get to see the mammals, watching ships sailing against the backdrop of the endless stretch of the horizon was a great experience.
I also had a chance to spend some time on Ama Beach, which is on southwest part of the island. Still in the high tourist season, it was busy, but had a slower and more easy-going vibe compared to Furuzamami Beach. On the sandy shore, tourists relaxed, enjoying sun bathing, napping or reading books.
Although they may take a back seat to Furuzamami beach in terms of vibrancy of colors, the waters of Ama beach showed a perfect example of crystal clear. Bright with sunlight, the ocean looked very enticing. So, in no time I put on snorkeling gear and went under the water, going through a long stretch of shallow waters. The beach mood quickly became excited when someone noticed a sea turtle.
The creature did not stay long, and the beach soon became quiet again. But, the excitement and happy feeling that the creature brought seemed to linger on tourists’ faces afterward.
After two trips to the island, I’ve covered most of the great spots the island has to offer. The second visit was just a fun as the first, and I get the feeling that my next visit is destined to be another adventure.
Coordinates: 26°13’22.5”N 127°18’29.4”E
Coordinates: 26°14’43.2”N 127°18’46.1”E
Unaji no Sachi Observatory
Coordinates: 26°13’54.9”N 127°16’58.4”E
Coordinates: 26°14’23.0”N 127°17’44.6”E
Coordinates: 26°13’36.5”N 127°17’31.3”E
* Zamami village’s website lists rental car offices on the island
* Info no how to get around on Zamami: