I am pleased to present a new Solo Travel Destination Post from Joleen, a member of the Solo Travel Society on Facebook. Joleen is from Singapore, and submitted the following report about her trip to Zamami Island. Do you have a solo travel destination that you would like to recommend? Submit your description here, along with a few photos, and share it with fellow travelers!
Solo travel rating: 1 (1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult. Please see chart below)
Languages spoken: Japanese, English
Costs at Destination: Reasonable (local transportation, dining, tours, events, and attractions)
Reasons to Visit Zamami Island
Come for the sea, stay for the lifestyle. I spent an amazing five days on the idyllic island paradise of Zamami.
Zamami Island, part of the Kerama Island chain, is located just 35 km off the coast of mainland Okinawa. It combines two of my loves: Japanese cuisine and the beach. It's a small place, with two main roads and one village run bus that runs between the three hamlets on the island. It's possible to cycle around the entirety of the island, though not recommended as Zamami is rather hilly.
Planning for the trip was easy as Zamami has two volunteer-run tourism websites for English-speaking visitors. A word of caution though: the information on the websites is relatively outdated and some research is still required.
I stayed at the Dive House Yadokari, located in the quiet Ama hamlet five minutes away from the port. Yadokari offers delicious home cooked Okinawan meals, single rooms with no single supplements, and warm service from its cheerful and friendly staff, Nao-san. Hideyaki-san, the proprieter of Yadokari, sets out early in the morning to fish, and whatever he catches is made into dinner. We had fish sashimi the first night, fresh steamed fish the second, and even squid sashimi once when he got lucky!
I thoroughly enjoyed having my meals here, as there were always interesting conversations to be had with the other guests. The staff were also more than happy to share their stories with us despite their limited grasp of English.
Zamami has two excellent locations for snorkeling: Ama beach and Furuzamami beach. Ama beach is small and peaceful, famous for its resident turtles that come to feed on the sea grass at high tide. Furuzamami is where the majority of the action on Zamami occurs, and for good reason. The coastline is beautiful, with bright yellow and blue umbrellas dotting the beach against a backdrop of turquoise waters. The marine life here is thriving, with rainbow hued parrot fishes swimming merrily among schools of darting silver fish fry. Fans of Finding Nemo will also be thrilled to spot the many Nemos, Dorys, and Marlins living in the colorful coral here.
Work here starts at 8 am and ends at 5 pm, and this is accompanied by an island-wide announcement (saying what exactly, I have no idea). In addition to these two announcements, there were also other announcements at 12 pm (start of lunch), 1 pm (end of lunch), 6 pm (dinner time), and 9 pm (time to sleep?). I'm not sure if the latter is true, but the proprietor of Yadokari does sleep at 9 pm, right after dinner.
Sounds just like something out of an anime set in rural Japan, doesn't it?
Solo Travel Destination Rating System
Safety – 1 (1 very safe, 2 safe in most areas, 3 be cautious at all times.)
Language – 2 (1 English is first language, 2 English speakers easy to find, 3 English speakers rare)
Navigation – 1 (1 easy to navigate by transit or car, 2 poor transit, car necessary, 3 not easy to get around)
Culture – 1 (1 Similar to North America or Western Europe, 2 Different from above but relaxed and easy, 3 Challenging)
Average Rating – 1 (1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult)