A vacation in Okinawa will not be complete without spending a few days in Kerama Islands. Located about 40 kilometers (25 miles) to the west of Okinawa Island, these islands are a wonderful collection of white sand beaches and crystal clear waters. The islands provide the best spots for those who plan to go diving, snorkeling, swimming and sunbathing. At certain times of the year, whales come swimming by and can be seen from a distance. Of the 36 islands, only four are populated. The islands have more to offer than just beaches and water. Here are the top 10 things to do in Kerama Islands.
1. Go snorkeling at Furuzamami Beach
Situated in Zamami Island, Furuzamami Beach is just short speed boat ride from Okinawa mainland. This is one of Kerama’s most popular destinations. The beach is known as a snorkeling paradise as colorful tropical fish swim up to these waters between the months of April and October. The best part of it is that swimmers of all ages can partake in this as the corals and the fish do not swim far away from the shoreline. Life vest and floaters are available for rent and are highly suggested. Furuzamami Beachs’ underwater wonders are truly enchanting.
Address: 1743 Zamami, Shimajiri District, Okinawa 901-3402, Japan
Website: Furuzamami Beach
2. Go turtle watching at Ama Beach
Ama Beach is mostly flat but its beauty is unquestionable. One of the best things to do here is to take a stroll along the shores during sunset as this gives visitors a chance to witness its true grandeur. However, there is one other thing that Ama Beach is known for. The sea turtles are what people come here for primarily. These beautiful creatures become more visible during high tide although they can also be seen when the tide is low. They come swimming up the shallow waters and stay there for quite a while, allowing everyone within the vicinity to take a glimpse at them.
Address: Ama, Zamami-son, Shimajiri-gun 901-3403, Okinawa Prefecture
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
3. Step onto the sandbar at Amuro Island
Amuro Island is among the most alluring islands you will ever see. It sits very close to Zamami Island and is very easy to go to. At certain moments of the year, low tides reveal a sand bar that connects Amuro to Zamami. This strip extends to roughly 200 meters (656 feet) long giving you all the sand to lay on. Amuro has no one living in it, therefore, you and your partner/s will have it all to yourselves. This takes the sandbar experience to a whole new level. Be warned though that you can step on it but not cross it as the currents are known to be very strong once the tide starts rising.
Sandbar at Amuro Island
Address: Zamami, Shimajiri District, Okinawa Prefecture 901-3402
4. See the coral reefs of Agenashiku Island
There is only one word that can aptly describe the marine life you will find under the waters of Agenashiku Island – astonishing! Once you don your snorkeling gear, make sure to go into the deep waters of the island and get to witness its beautiful coral formations. As you go along further, schools of colorful fish that swim by will certainly take your breath away. All these sum up to a wonderful and captivating experience that you can only get once when you snorkel this part of Kerama Islands. The reefs are protected assuring you that the corals will continue to invite many more people in the years to come.
Coral reefs of Agenashiku Island
Address: Zamami-son, Shimajiri-gun 901-3402, Okinawa Prefecture
Price: 14 USD
5. Marvel at the Aka Bridge architecture
The islands within the Kerama Islands are mostly isolated from each other. This is one problem that Aka Bridge has solved by connecting Aka and Geruma Islands. Eventually, visitors can also easily visit Fukaji Island. Only a few tourists come to this part of the islands and these places are virtually untouched. But because of the presence of Aka Bridge, visitors now have a chance to enjoy more sun, sea, and sand that is more serene and less touristy compared to the other beaches. But Aka Bridge is not all function. The bridge, with its exceptional architecture and modern built, stands juxtaposed to the rustic scenery all around. It is a brilliant view altogether.
Address: Aka Island, Zamami-son, Okinawa Prefecture 901-3311
6. Spend time at Nishibama Beach, Aka Island
Aka Island is known to have the most pristine beaches in all of Kerama. The same goes for its diving spots. Its waters are filled with colorful and vibrant marine life like fish and corals and are said to be among the clearest and bluest that one will ever see. However, Nishibama Beach takes the crown for having the most beautiful waters and powdery sands. Covering 1 kilometer (.62 mile) stretch of shoreline, this is the best spot to lounge around, swim, and snorkel. If you want to experience the best that the Kerama Islands has to offer, come to Nishibama Beach in Aka Island.
Nishibama Beach, Aka Island
Address: Aka, Zamami, Shimajiri District, Okinawa 901-3311, Japan
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
7. Visit the statue of the dog, Shiro
Shiro the dog in love. 1986. Japan.Mr. and Mrs. Nakamura noticed their dog's Shiro disappeared in the morning and...Posted by For Animals. on Saturday, 12 January 2013
The statue of Shiro is a symbol of love and devotion. The story goes that Shiro had a girlfriend named Marilyn and they lived as neighbors on the island of Zamami. In 1986, Shiro’s owner moved to Aka Island with his dog in tow. Every morning, Shiro would swim across the sea and stay all day with his beloved Marilyn. The 3-kilometer (1.8 miles) swim took Shiro about 3 hours to complete one way. This astonishing feat was witnessed by fisher folks. One day, his owner followed the dog on his boat and found out where Shiro went and stayed during the day. This is what the statue is all about. Marilyn has her own statue on Zamami Island.
Statue of Shiro
Address: 936 Aka, Zamami, Shimajiri District, Okinawa 901-3311, Japan
Website: Statue of Shiro
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
8. Go diving at Aharen Beach
This is one of the best beaches in the Kerama Islands. It also has one of the longest shorelines in the region. With a long stretch of sand and shore, you will not run out of things to do in this wondrous paradise. It is easy to rent diving and snorkeling equipment as an impressive number of dealers are lined up nearby. And if you long to take in a great view of the surrounding islands and the blue sea, take a short trek to the hilltop where you can spend as much time as you want to soak in the amazing scenery.
Address: Aharen, Tokashiki-son, Shimajiri-gun 901-3500, Okinawa Prefecture
9. Seek adventure near Tokashiku Beach
Tokashiku Beach may be small in size but it is big on activities. Although diving areas are not as common compared to the other beaches of Kerama Islands, this is one of the best places to go for a swim or sunbathing. Aside from these, one can also find hiking trails located within reach from the shoreline. The tree-filled hills near the beach offer some of the best pathways where you can take a walk without a shoddy sight in view. Every scenery here is simply amazing. Whether you stay put on the shore or take a scenic hike, Tokashiku Beach is an exciting place to visit.
Address: Tokashiku Beach, Tokashiki Island, Kerama Islands, Okinawa
10. Take in the views from the North-Side Observatories
Visitors to Tokashiki Island can take in the most majestic vantages of the sea and other islands. But if you really want the best views, take a hike and head towards the North Side of the island where two observatories are ready to give you what you came here for. On one hand, the Nishiyama Observatory, or West Observatory, provides you with a view of the Kerama Islands, on the other hand, the Akamayama Observatory or East Observatory stands near the peak of Mount Akama giving you a glimpse as far as the main island of Okinawa on a clear and sunny day.
Address: National Okinawa Seinen Koryu no Ie, Tokashiki Island, Tokashiki, Shimajiri District, Okinawa, Japan
Understanding the beauty of Kerama Islands
Okinawa’s Kerama Islands area a pleasant surprise to those who love nature. Aside from the plentiful beaches, these islands provide some of the most scintillating sceneries one will ever witness above and underwater. Some coral reefs are protected and have become abundant and so vibrant like no other. Other islands offer natural land wonders for visitors to marvel at.
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