Cloudless skies, light blue seas, white sand beaches, untouched coral and thousands of fish are not quite what one would expect to see when travelling to Japan. However, that’s just what we got on Okinawa Islands. Worth to say that the beauty lies in the small untouched islands that surround the main island. Okinawa in itself is pretty built up and resembles more of a huge city rather than an island in the Pacific. So I would recommend staying as little as possible on the main island and then heading off to explore the smaller ones.
Okinawa is relatively easy to access, now also with low cost airlines Jetstar and Peach(if you’re into fruit) airlines, which I’d say are the equivalent of Easyjet in Europe. Flight from Tokyo takes 3 hours, flight from Osaka 2 hours.
After spending a day on the main island, we took a speedy 1h ferry Queen Zamami from Naha to the Kerama islands, which are 32km away from Okinawa. Queen Zamami is a very impressive boat, I was prepared to feel pretty ill due to the high waves, but the built of the vessel breaks the waves and makes the ride a lot smoother.
Our first stop was Zamami, which we soon discovered is a lot more advanced in infrastructure compared to other Kerama islands. It has some restaurants and even a regular bus to explore the island!
Between January and March it’s possible to spot some of the hundreds of humpback whales that migrate from Alaska for warmer breeding grounds. As we were too late for the whales, but just in time for good weather, most of our time was spent on two different beaches.
Furuzamami is approximately 1.6 km away from Zamami port. Getting there involves walking up a steeeeeeeep hill, so if you’re not up for that, perhaps just wait for the local bus or hitch a ride with a local like we did. There’s two stalls for hot food in the beach house and a wide selection of Japanese ice creams. Blue Seal’s Purple potato was my favourite. You can rent snorkelling gear and get a lovely yellow beach parasol to protect you from the vicious sun, or not.
Snorkelling there is excellent, just a few steps away from the beach gives you a view to hundreds of fish and some good quality coral, which is destroyed in so many parts of the world. Furuzamami is probably also the beach where all the other tourists (not that there are many) would be hanging out during the day, so if you want a bit more privacy, I recommend you walk beyond the black cliff on the right side of the beach. Long beach with no-one there can be found.
Ama beach is the beach to spot turtles at. We didn’t see any unfortunately, but then again we didn’t really go for a swim there. What we did have was a wonderful walk along the beach, collecting sea shells and spotting at the sunset. if you walk a little further from Ama beach, you’ll reach a great viewing point specifically for the sunset and also for the whales during the whale watching season.
Sunset in Zamami
Place to eat in Zamami is . It’s a bar restaurant, with a wide selection of dishes. It gave us an idea why Okinawans are supposedly one of the oldest living people on Earth. Although, I was told by one of the locals that it’s more true for women. The men enjoy the local drink , local sake, a little bit too much. Saying that though, awamori is tasty and shouldn’t be missed. Locals drink it with Shikuwasa juice, Okinawan lime juice.
Place to eat in Zamami is La Toquee. It’s a bar restaurant, with a wide selection of dishes. It gave us an idea why Okinawans are supposedly one of the oldest living people on Earth. Although, I was told by one of the locals that it’s more true for women. The men enjoy the local drink Awamori, local sake, a little bit too much. Saying that though, awamori is tasty and shouldn’t be missed. Locals drink it with Shikuwasa juice, Okinawan lime juice.
Our meal choice at La Toquee consisted of pork, local sea weed pancake with dried fish that moved (not joking!), some large shrimps with burger sauce and lots of raw fish. I’m sure this meal would add a few years to my life expectancy, if only I hadn’t topped it all off with some French Toast and Blue Seal ice cream.
Next stop Aka Islands.