5 Great Things to Do on Amami Island

Known as the "Oriental Galapagos", Amami Oshima offers plenty of unspoiled nature and wildlife. Covered in thick forests and surrounded by pristine sand beaches, this beautiful piece of land is the perfect getaway to enjoy a few leisurely days. Amami Oshima is the largest island in the Amami archipelago and located between Okinawa and Kagoshima, far away from the hustle and bustle of the big cities. Best known for its wealth of natural beauty and its tranquil ambience, the island offers a number of fun activities. Read on to learn five great things to do on Amami Island.

1. Go Beach-Hopping

Amami has plenty of beautiful beaches for you to explore -- Photo by Kathrin Kecht
Amami's coastline is dotted with seaside villages, quaint shops, hotels, restaurants and, most importantly, with lots of beautiful beaches. Drive along the shore and go on the hunt for the best spot. Of course, you can find gorgeous beaches in many parts of Japan, but one major difference is the lack of tourist crowds on Amami. If you're looking for a tropical paradise with lonely beaches to enjoy some quiet time while getting a nice tan, this is the right place of you. 
One of the most fascinating beaches on Amami Oshima is Honohoshi in the southernmost part of the island. Covered with large, rounded stones shaped by the rough waves of the sea, Honohoshi stands out among other beaches in the area. When the waves wash up on the shore, you can hear a unique sound created by the stones sliding over one another. The coast is lined with steeply rising, oddly-shaped rocks, creating a dynamic landscape. Go there on a full moon night for an incredible moonlit view and an unforgettable atmosphere while listening to the song of the sea.

2. Eat Chicken

Keihan is Amami's local specialty -- Photo by Kathrin Kecht
Chicken is Amami's local specialty. You will find many restaurants and izakayas offering the tasty bird in every form and flavor. However, the most famous meal by far is keihan. Literally meaning "chicken rice", the specialty can be found in numerous restaurants across the island for about 800 to 1000 yen. 
Hisakura in the northern part of Amami is one of the best-known establishment serving keihan. Main ingredients include chicken strips, thinly sliced omelet, ginger, green onion, shiitake mushrooms and dried seaweed served on plain white rice. A savory chicken broth is poured over the mix, completing the delightful dish. If you’re looking for a nice izakaya to spend the evening, Tori Shin specializes in chicken and serves many appetizing dishes, including keihan ramen, fried chicken cartilage and chicken skewers. If you're on the adventurous side, then you may want to try torisashi, or "chicken sashimi" (yes, raw chicken). No need to worry about salmonella or other bacteria—the chicken is served as fresh as can be. The delicacy is hard to come by, so don’t miss this opportunity to try it. 

3. Get Wet

Kazbo offers SUP, surf and SUP surf lessons -- Photo by Kathrin Kecht
Blessed with crystal-clear waters, vibrant coral reefs and tropical fish, the beautiful sea of Amami makes a fantastic site for water activities. Grab your snorkel and discover Amami’s underwater world. If you want to go scuba diving, Divers Cove teaches PADI courses in English and offers guided dives.
If you’d rather stay above waters, you should try standup paddleboarding, or simply SUP. Cruise along the coast and enjoy the stunning scenery while getting a great core workout. Kazbo, located in the upper northern part of the island, is a great place to take SUP lessons. The friendly owner also teaches Surfing and even SUP Surfing lessons. No matter your preference, hop on that board and ride Amami's waters! 

4. Explore the Mangroves

Explore the mangrove forest -- Photo by Kathrin Kecht
Part of the Amami Gunto Quasi-National Park, 95% of the island is covered in forest. This includes about 700,000 square meters of virgin mangrove. The Kuroshio no Mori Mangrove Park offers visitors an idyllic kayak tour through the mangroves.  
Follow your guides down the river to learn more about the natural environment and wildlife of the region—either in a single or tandem kayak. A treasure chest of exotic plants and animals, the forest is home to a protected species of black hare, the Amami Rabbit, as well as the Ruri-Kakesu Jaybird and other feathered friends. Jump into your kayak and enjoy the ride!

5. Become a Fashion Designer

Dye your clothes in a bright indigo blue! -- Photo by Kathrin Kecht
Have you ever dreamt of becoming a fashion designer? For only 3000 yen, this dream can come true—sort of. Creating natural dyes deriving from mud and plants is one of Amami’s traditional arts and crafts. The carefully produced dyes are used to color traditional silks and other cloths. At Kanai Kogei’s workshop, you can try your hand at this traditional craft called Oshima Tsumugi and dye any number of items in a variety of patterns.
The professional staff will show you how to fold the cloth to get the desired result. Don’t worry if you didn’t bring any of your own clothes—you can buy scarfs, t-shirts, bandanas, bags and more at the shop. After two to three rounds in the dye, your shirt, scarf or even shoes will be ready to go in a bright indigo blue. 
Ready to go?
From culinary delights to entertaining activities, Amami has everything to make your vacation worthwhile. Well-known flag carrier JAL as well as low-cost airline Vanilla Air offer direct flights from Narita Airport starting at 7500 yen. Book your trip to this dream destination and spend a few relaxing days napping on the beach, kayaking through mangroves or simply enjoying some tasty chicken!

See what else you can do on Amami Island!

Kathrin Kecht