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Amami Oshima Island

From lush forests to beautiful beaches with white sands and sparkling waters, see what the picturesque island of Amami Oshima has to offer!
Amami Oshima Island

Amami Oshima is the largest of the Amami Islands. It is a chain of islands that runs between Kyushu and Okinawa. They are part of the Kagoshima Prefecture at the southern tip of Japan. It takes more than two hours to explore by car and is full of lush forests, rare flora and fauna, beautiful beaches, and other breathtaking sights worth seeing. A trip around the island will also introduce you to their delicious cuisine and rich history.

Observe the island’s natural splendor with a guided tour in Kinsakubaru

Observe the island’s natural splendor with a guided tour in Kinsakubaru

Amami Oshima is the perfect island for nature lovers or those who enjoy the outdoors as it was recently designated as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site. One of the best ways to explore the island and experience its natural beauty is through a tour of Kinsakubaru. Kinsakubaru is a subtropical evergreen forest filled with many broad-leaf trees.

Animal and plant life in Kinsakubaru

There, you will encounter various types of plants, such as the hikagehego, also known as the gigantic Flying Spider-Monkey Tree Ferns. You might also get to see the Cyathea lepifera or the brush pot tree, a rare type of fern that existed for thousands of years. You might catch a glimpse of various unique animals, including the Okinawa tree lizard and the Amami jay (a species of jay now only found on Amami Oshima and Tokunoshima). The forest is also home to The Ryukyu robin and the Amami rabbit.

Kinsakubaru is also known as the “Galapagos of the East." It is thick with moss, wildflowers, ferns, and other plants along the trail. Walking through the forest is an amazing experience, allowing you to observe and take in the magnificent natural setting for yourself. Each step gives you a glimpse of breathtaking wonder as you inhale the crisp, cool air and admire the scenery. Kinsakubaru Primeval Forest is part of the Amami Gunto National Park and visitors must be accompanied by a certified eco-tour guide.

As you travel the wilderness, beware of the nocturnal habu, a venomous snake found in the region that is often spotted between April to June and September to October. Avoid tall grass, especially when temperatures are around 24°C (75°F).

Kayak through the maze of rivers in the mangrove forest

Kayak through the maze of rivers in the mangrove forest

Amami Oshima also has the second largest mangrove forest in Japan. Kuroshio-no-Mori Mangrove Park sits on the central east coast of the island. Tourists can explore the park by kayak through guided tours. There are a number of kayak tour operators, but it is best to get the ones offered at the mangrove forest itself, as these are accessible and do not need reservations.

These kayak tours often take about an hour’s journey and take you through the winding river network and mangroves. It’s best to wait for high tide before doing your tour, as this is when the smaller offshoots of the rivers are accessible. Nevertheless, kayaking in low tide is also a good experience, and you will get to go to many places. Aside from kayaking, you can also check out the observation deck and ground golf course.

Swim and snorkel along the white-sand beaches

Swim and snorkel along the white-sand beaches

Amami Oshima is also known for its beautiful beaches, spreading along the coastline with their white sand. Beyond the beaches are clear, warm waters that make the island a swimming paradise in the summer. As the beaches tend to be less crowded than those in Okinawa, they are great for swimming, relaxing. They also provide some good snorkeling spots where you can see colorful corals and other aquatic life.

The best time to go swimming is between May and October when the air and water are warm enough for various beach activities. 

Popular public beaches

One of the most popular beaches is Tomori Beach, located just near Amami Airport. It is one of the most beautiful beaches on Amami Oshima, known for its white sand and emerald green waters.

Ohama Seaside Park, just outside of Amami City, is known for its majestic sunset views and beautiful swimming spots along the coastline. It is also known as the egg-laying site for loggerhead sea turtles and green sea turtles during the summer months.

Yadoribama Beach, near the southern tip of the island, isn’t accessible by public transportation, but you can get a rental car and drive to it. If you want a nice, quiet beach with a few hotels and calm, clear waters, this is the beach to go to. If you are fond of camping and want to pitch a tent, there is also a nearby campground.

It’s important to note, however, that not all beaches have facilities, and some only have a parking lot and public restrooms. Other beaches have nearby hotels and inns where you can stay.

Private seafronts and beaches

Private seafronts and beaches

If you are looking to stay at a place with a private seafront, you can check out Denpaku The Beachfront MIJORA, a workcation (working-vacation) spot that allows you to mix work and travel as you take in the stunning natural scenery of Amami. Most of the Denpaku series are folk houses that were renovated and made available for rent. They feature traditional half-timbered ceilings and concrete walls that extend towards the sea. All rooms have glass walls facing the sea, giving the room an open feel.

See amazing sights all around the island

See amazing sights all around the island

From the uppermost part all the way to its southernmost tip, Amami Oshima has a lot to show. There is much to see and experience aside from Kisakubaru Forest, the Mangrove forest, and its pristine beaches with beautiful blue waters.

Kasarizaki Lighoutse and Ayamaru Misaki Cape Park

You can drive up to the Kasarizaki Lighthouse for a beautiful panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean. Ayamaru Misaki Cape Park, located in the northernmost part of the island, offers great views of the Pacific Ocean too. There, you can see a large coral reef sitting just below the ocean’s surface.

Tatsugo Town

Tatsugo Town

Tatsugo Town, which is also near the airport, features a heart-shaped tide pool that can only be seen during low tide. Nearby is the Amami Nature Observation Forest, which houses the lush Nagakumo mountains. For people who like to take it slowly, you can enjoy walking through the forest and learning all about the plants and animals that live there. There are also several parks and places for children to enjoy.

Waterfalls

If you are visiting in the summer and are looking for a place to swim (other than beaches), you can check out the Materiya-no-Taki Waterfall with clear waters that come from the mountains and forests above. You can also try the Arangachi Falls that tumbles from around 30 meters into a beautiful basin.

Mt. Yuwandake Observatory Park and Honohoshi Shore

In the southern region of Amami Oshima is the Mt. Yuwandake Observatory Park, where you can see the Oshima Strait that flows between Amami Oshima and Kakeroma Island. Nearby is the Honohoshi Shore, located in the easter part of Setouchi. This beach is known for its round stones that have been shaped by the flowing and ebbing of the rough waves. As the waves recede, the smooth stones rub together to create a sound that is similar to the taiko drum. You can also see various rock formations and caves along the coastline.

Explore the different places of Amami Oshima

There is plenty to see and do in Amami Oshima. From forests lush with flora and fauna to beaches filled with white sand and emerald or sapphire waters, there is something for every nature lover on this little island in the south of Japan. If you are looking for a relaxing place to stay, or you enjoy trekking through nature, or swimming and snorkeling in unspoiled beaches all within 10 minutes from the airport, Amami Oshima is the perfect place to visit.

Amami Oshima is accessible by plane from several of the major Japanese cities. For travelers arriving from Tokyo, it takes two hours 20 minutes to Amami airport by flying with Japan Explorer Pass. Travelers arriving from Osaka take one hour 45 minutes to Amami airport by flying with JAL Japan Explorer Pass. It's a great long-haul stopover destination.

There is an Island Bus that offers multi-day bus passes, but it might not go everywhere you want to go. If you're looking to explore the different parts of the island, it might be best to rent a private car so you can see everything you want to see. You'll get to visit places like Kinsakubaru Forest and the other beaches where public transportation might not be able to reach.

Take a trip to Amami Oshima!

Getting There