"Keramashoto" is good also in winter? Play out actively in a paradise on a warm isolated island

│A time to go to south of Japan in winter! Paradise of an island relieves your body.

Talking about "winter in Japan", I think that many people may image how to enjoy only in coldest season, such as snowy landscape, hot spring, and lighting up for a season.
But, here what I would like to recommend is, a bit different from a usual, how to enjoy warm winter in Japan.
What I will introduce this time is "Keramashoto", isolated islands of Okinawa, where the average temperature is from 15 to 20 degrees Celsius and the water temperature is hardly below 20 degrees Celsius!
Furuzamami Beach
Furuzamami Beach in December
The archipelago consists of some 30 islands of big and small and numerous rock reefs, and is designated as "Keramashoto National Park" in 2014.
It is a paradise on an isolated island, where blue and transparent sea, called as "Kerama blue", extends endlessly, and various kinds of reef corals densely live on.
I will introduce three ways to enjoy playing out thoroughly and actively in winter of such Keramashoto, where is warm and full of nature.

Here for Keramashoto National Park

【How to enjoy 1】Embraced by the sea of Kerama blue! Refresh body and heart with a walking tour of superb views

The first recommended how to enjoy is a walking tour!
There are numbers of observatories on heights of the island, also set as intermediate and final points of the various walking tours.
As there are some tours with geographical features, you seem getting easily tired from a heat if was in the middle of summer, but you can stay in comfort if in winter, and this is also a happy point.
Let us fully enjoy by walking the island, where subtropical unique plants and living things breathe, rich of various sightscape such as cliffs and stratum.
From here, I introduce walking tours on Zamami-Jima Island and Tokashiki-Jima Island of Keramashoto.

◆ Walking on Zamami-Jima Island

To Zamami-Jima Island, it takes 50 minutes by high-speed boat and 90 minutes by ferry (only if direct route) from Tomari port, Naha city of Okinawa main island. There in the island are Furuzamami Beach where you can enjoy sea bathing and diving, and Ama Beach where sea turtles live, and also there set observatories everywhere from where you can overlook the sea of beautiful Kerama blue.
There are walking tour routes, with which you can fully enjoy such beautiful nature by walk, and which can be varied according to levels of body strength. For the island walk, "Nordic walking" that you use supplemental poles for a walking exercise is positively recommended.
As Nordic walking eases loads on lower back and knees compared to normal walking, even the one who is not confident to body strength can enjoy a mountain walking at one's own pace. In addition, it gathers attention recently for its very high efficiency of exercise.
Zamami-Jima Island
Zamami Village Nordic walking
You can select the suited course to yourself by a conference with an instructor in the Nordic walking tour operated by Zamami Village Tourist Association.

Firstly, for the beginners, a course of 3 km round trip, going toward Furuzamami Beach, where was awarded two stars in "Michelin Green Guide Japan" is recommended.
After you walk on a road of rich in green, the sea of breathtakingly beautiful Kerama blue waits for you. You can enjoy the walking full of exhilarating feeling.
Furuzamami Beach
Furuzamami Beach where a contrast of pure white coral sands and Kerama blue is beautiful.
The intermediate course of Zamami-Jima Island is 6 km round trip a course going toward "Kaminohama Observatory", known as a famous spot for sunset, where you can overlook Kume-Jima Island and Tokashiki-Jima Island.
An advanced course of 3 km round trip, after climbing up a steep slope, goes toward "Takatsukiyama Observatory", where also is said as the best sightseeing spot of Kerama. From the observatory, you will appreciate the vast archipelago landscape, including villages of the island, Furuzamami Beach, Ago no Ura, and scattered islands of Kerama.
  • Keramashoto
    Kami no Hama Observatory
  • Keramashoto
    Landscape from Takatsukiyama Observatory
※ Entry to Kami no Hama Observatory is prohibited from July 16th, 2019 until December 17th, 2019 (planned) due to construction period.
You can specially experience crossing over the seas in the intermediate course of 6 km round trip walking on Aka-Jima Island, Geruma-Jima Island, Fukaji-Jima Island.
The course starts from Aka-Jima Island where Kerama Shika deer, natural memorial treasure, live. And it crosses over Aka Ohashi bridge and Geruma hashi bridge, and goes over islands toward Kerama Airport, the goal. If you are lucky, you may see a swimming turtle and ray from the bridge.
Aka Ohashi Bridge connecting Aka-Jima Island and Geruma-Jima Island

◆ Walking on Tokashiki-Jima Island

To Tokashiki-Jima Island, as it takes only short time like about 35 minutes by high-speed boat and about 70 minutes by ferry from Tomari port, Naha city of Okinawa main island, it is recommended for the one who likes to stay longer on an isolated island.
Teruyama Enchi park walking trails along which Kerama Tsutsuji (Azalea) blooms during around January through March
There are lined up many mountains of 200 m elevation class on the island of just only 10 km wide north to south.
You can enjoy nature environment rich in variation, including expanding beautiful beaches, such as Aharen Beach, where pure while beach extends for 800 m, and Tokashiku Beach, where the possibility is high to see sea turtles, also including lushly green mountains, windswept places, and lagoons, etc.
Perfect for strolling, Aharen Misaki Enchi park, where are walking trails and an arbor overlooking the beach
There are many observatories overlooking dynamic landscapes also on this island, and as walking trails are well maintained, it is perfect environment to enjoy a walking tour.

Among observatories, I like definitely to recommend this Teruyama Observatory located on the top of mountain.
A landscape from Teruyama Observatory, where you may have a chance to see humpback whales during winter.
You can view the panoramic landscape of 360 degrees, including two large beaches of Tokashiki-Jima Island, Aharen Beach and Tokashiku Beach.
And also including, Zamami-Jima Island, Aka-Jima Island, and Geruma-Jima Island on the other side of the sea.
A breathtaking superb view of the sea dyed in gold and of the beautiful sunset waits at the end of a day.

◆ A debut of running at Tokashiki Marathon of Tokashiki-Jima Island?

running at Tokashiki Marathon
For the one who likes to enjoy running, "Tokashiki Marathon", held on the first Saturday of February every year, is recommended.
There are some courses at Tokashiki Marathon, such as "Half Marathon (21.0975 km)", "10 km", "5 km", and "3 km", and if you like to enjoy the one of Japan's top superb view courses, please challenge definitely the half marathon.
Definitely you will be satisfied with exhilarating feeling when you complete the running on the course which is extremely geographically featured, while viewing over Aharen Beach and Tokashiku Beach.
【Day of event】February 1st, 2020 (Saturday)
【Place of event】Tokashiki Village, Okinawa Prefecture: Rinko Road (Start point), exercise ground of Tokashiki Elementary and Junior high school (Goal)
【Web site】http://www.kuzira-marathon.jp/

【How to enjoy 2】 Winter season for whale watching! fall in love with a whale.

Another attraction of Keramashoto in winter is whale watching.
Because it used to be whaling place, it was very few chances to watch whales in the area around Keramashoto. But, whales have become witnessed since some decades ago.。
Since then, Zamami Village Whale Watching Association set rules as do not chase whales, and do not get very close, and the whole village are conscious of gently watching over the whales. Thanks to that, today several hundred whales come to this sea as per every year.
whale watching
Whales of parent and child swimming side by side in the sea of Zamami
During January through the end of March every year, whales are coming back to coastal Zamami for breeding and parenting.
I introduce five must-see points, which make you want to watch such whales of Zamami.

【Must-see point 1】Anyway huge! Surprised with a whale of 30 tons

whale watching
  • whale watching
  • whale watching
That is often watched around Zamami Island is a humpback whale.
With average length of 13 m to 15 m and with weight of about some 30 tons, such a huge whale jumps up from the water, and strikes on a surface of water with a tail fin lifted!
Acrobatic moves that the whale shows in front of your eyes is overwhelming.

【Must-see point 2】Whales' battles of love is heating up in winter! A good chance that you may hear love songs

It is said that male whales sing love songs for appealing to female whales during the period of breeding.
Some whale watching boats are equipped with dedicated whale microphones so that guests can hear the songs, which whales sing in the sea. Please try being healed by whales' mystic love songs, unfolded in the large sea.

【Must-see point 3】Certification of individual records of Humpback whales!? You may see a tail fin that is familiar.

Every ventral pattern and shape of a tail fin of a humpback whale is different from one by one, similar to fingerprints of human.
From that, Zamami Village takes photo of whales' tail fins every year, and conducts individual identification survey, as thinking that which whales came back.
Looking at the result of survey, they say that there are some whales returning every year and some whales returning for the first time in 10 years.
Please pay your attention to tail fins when you watch whales around Zamami Island for sure.
When you think that if you can see the whale of the same tail fin of that time when you visit to Zamami Island next time, it is very romantic, isn't it?!

【Must-See point 4】A sense of unity of the audience! Fun to share the excitement!

The purpose of passengers on a boat is to watch whales! As passengers are riding on a boat with the same purpose, a sense of unity of passengers when you watch whales is what you can experience only there.
"There I saw!!" "It's huge!!"
Every time a whale makes a performance, cheers arise. Such a good feeling to share the excitement may also be a charm of whale watching.
Whale watching of Zamami leaves some space in numbers of passengers per cruise.
This is because they think that if many people crowded in front of a boat, there may be some guests who cannot watch whales. They consider for sure not to happen such a case. Relax at ease, and let us enjoy the precious time when you can watch whales.

【Must-see point 5】Rate of encounter with whales is said as more than 90%! Who hold the key is veteran whale finders.

humpback whale
A blow of humpback whale
A rate of encounter with whales around Zamami Village is said that more than some 90%.
Who hold the key for such high rate of encounter is a veteran whale finder waiting at an observatory of the island.
There is Inazaki Observatory (Whale Observatory) in north of Zamami Island,
and a whale finder is looking for whales through binoculars from morning at the peak of a mountain where cold wind blows fiercely.
And as soon as he finds a blow (exhale that goes up high) of a whale as the mark, a boat receives the information, according to the system. This is how they bring the rate of encounter high with a sense of speed.
They think that once you come over to Zamami Island, they want you to watch whales for sure. Such passion of staffs and the co-operation system realizes the high rate of encounter with whales.

【How to enjoy 3】 Embraced with outstanding transparent Kerama blue in winter, you can enjoy marine activities!

In the sea of Keramashoto in winter, the water temperature hardly goes down below 20 degrees Celsius. As numbers of plankton in the sea water decreases, transparency of Kerama blue increases more. You can enjoy such increased transparency, and actually it is the perfect season for marine activities.
As less tourists compared to the high seasons, it is also a good point that you can loosely enjoy the beautiful sea. I introduce marine activities that you want to experience in such Keramashoto of winter.

◆Can swim with turtles of almost 100% probability "Swim with turtles"

Activities and researches for preserving environment are made in Keramashoto everyday. In the sea that has protected the natural environment, there live endangered species, including sea turtles. You can go watching such living things by snorkeling accompanied by an instructor.
Swim with turtles
In Transparent sea without any haze all around, you will swim with a sea turtle, surrounded by colorful coral reefs and cute tropical fish.
Such dream-like time will surely be your unforgettable memory.
When going snorkeling, there are some things that I want you to keep in mind. For sure to wear a life jacket so that you will not mistakenly kick coral reefs in shallow, and do not feed the fish that is in coral reefs. Also, when you see a sea turtle, you may think that you want to get closer out of excitement, but do not chase the turtle and let us just watch it over. Keep rules and manners, and please try feeling the world of precious marine lives that live in Keramashoto.

◆A luxury on the sea of orange! "Sunset Stand Up Paddle Board"

Sunset Stand Up Paddle Board
For the one who wants to indulge with sinking sunset in archipelago of Keramashoto, I recommend the sunset stand up paddle board.
What "stand up paddle board" is a marine activity that you will proceed on the water, taking a balance by a paddle, riding on a stable board, which is designed larger than a standard surfboard. As it is done in a bay relatively calm, even the one who has not yet experienced can enjoy exhilarating strolling on the outstandingly transparent water.
When you view the sinking sunset into the horizon from the sea gradually dyeing in orange, whole your body will be filling with indescribable excitement.
※Sunset stand up paddle board experience operated by Acoustic Life will be temporarily closed from November 2019 until March 2020.
I have introduced how to enjoy in Keramashoto of winter.
The sea of breathtakingly beautiful Kerama blue, and colorful coral reefs that expand in the sea water. Excitements that you can see only in winter, such as unique to subtropical nature rich in green, whales returning every year for parenting, etc. are waiting for you!
How about trying experiencing thoroughly mystery of great nature in Keramashoto in this winter?

| Access to Zamami-Jima Island

◆ By high speed boat (Queen Zamami)
【Riding time】50 minutes from Naha Tomari port (1 hour 10 minutes of a ride via Aki-Jima Island)
【Fare】One way: Adult 3,140 Yen, Kid 1,570 Yen, Round trip: Adult 5,970 Yen, Kid 2,990 Yen
* Adult: older than junior high school, Kid: Elementary school. One toddler younger than elementary school is free per one adult.
* Churashima tax 100 Yen is payable separately.

◆ By ferry (Ferry Zamami)
【Riding time】 1 hour and 30 minutes from Naha Tomari port (2 hours of a ride via Aki-Jima Island)
【Fare】 One way: Adult 2,120 Yen, Kid 1,060 Yen, Round trip: Adult 4,030 Yen, Kid 2,020 Yen
* Adult: older than junior high school, Kid: Elementary school. One toddler younger than elementary school is free per one adult.
* Churashima tax 100 Yen is payable separately.

▷ Here for about operating hours

| Access to Tokashiki-Jima Island

◆ By high speed boat (Marine Liner Tokashiki)
【Riding time】 35 minutes from Naha Tomari port
【Fare】One way: Adult 2,490 Yen, Kid 1,250 Yen, Round trip: Adult 4,740 Yen, Kid 2,380 Yen
* Adult: older than junior high school, Kid: Elementary school. One toddler younger than elementary school is free per one adult.
* Environment cooperation tax 100 Yen is payable separately.

◆ By ferry (Ferry Tokashiki)
【Riding time】1 hour 10 minutes from Naha Tomari port
【Fare】One way: Adult 1,660 Yen, Kid 830 Yen, Round trip: Adult 3,160 Yen, Kid 1,580 Yen
* Adult: older than junior high school, Kid: Elementary school. One toddler younger than elementary school is free per one adult.
* Environment cooperation tax 100 Yen is payable separately.

▷ Here for about operating hours

Here for Keramashoto National Park

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