Ama beach is one of the most beautiful shores in the Kerama Islands. Its long strand of white sand opening up to turquoise water makes one feel like stopping for a while and relaxing. But this place is most famous for sea turtle spotting: everyday, they come here in numbers to feed from the shallow seagrass meadow. You are especially sure to spot them if you come with high tide. If you are spending a whole day on the island, you can combine this experience with Furuzamami Beach, another snorkeling spot located less than 2 miles from Ama Beach.

Snorkeling with sea turtle at Ama Beach, Zamami Island

How to get there?

Ama Beach is located on Zamami Island. Naha, Okinawa’s capital city, will most likely be your first step into the archipelago. It is also the starting point to many neighboring islands. Boats to the Kerama islands leave from Tomari harbor: it is located close to the city center (the closest monorail stop is Miebashi (美栄橋), you will then have to walk for about 10 minutes to reach the jetty). The express boat is most convenient (50 minutes, round trip about $48) but you might prefer the cheaper ferry (120 minutes, round trip about $32). Schedules depend on the seasons. Be careful as there can sometimes be only one or two round trips per day.

Once on Zamami island, there are several options to reach the beach: you can rent a bike (20 minutes ride to the beach, steep road), a scooter or a car. Ama beach is well signposted from the jetty.

Ama Beach snorkeling map, Zamami Island

Water entrance

The area close to the beach main access probably is the most practical entrance, but you can enter the water from anywhere on the beach.

Exploration

If you want to spot green sea turtles in Ama Bay, you must take the tide times into account: only with high tide are the seagrass on which the turtles feed covered enough for them to come. The rest of the time the seagrass is underneath a few centimeters of water. You will get more information about the best times to spot turtles at the tourist information center located close to the jetty.

Lagoon triggerfish at Ama Beach, Zamami Island

Once water depth is sufficient, look for the strand about 10 meters wide on which discreet turtle-grass grows. It is located only a few meters from the beach. Swimming over it, you will most likely spot several turtles feeding quietly. As always with sea turtles, mind basic observation rules: don’t touch them or follow them, and give them enough room when they swim up to breath on the water surface.

Green sea turtles are not the only attraction here. You will also find a gorgeous coral garden, densely covered with branch corals, only a few dozen meters from the beach. It is located just in front of the beach main access (see map above). If you have trouble finding it, look for the glass bottom boats: several ones come into the bay, they stop in this area.

Ama Beach coral garden, Zamami Island

Elsewhere the seabed is half sandy, half covered with lesser quality corals. You might spot sea anemones sheltering red clown fishes. If you have a camera, be sure the shallowness of this spot (water depth never exceeds 10ft) will help you take beautiful pictures.

Restaurants and accommodation

Several stands bordering the beach sell sandwiches and beverages (inconstant opening times). In Zamami village, located about 1 mile from here, you will find a wider range of restaurants and inexpensive accommodation.

Species you may spot while snorkeling Ama Beach
COMMON NAME SCIENTIFIC NAME ABUNDANCE FISHBASE WIKIPEDIA
Green Chromis Chromis viridis  
Whitetail dascyllus Dascyllus aruanus  
Melon butterflyfish Chaetodon trifasciatus  
Green sea turtle Chelonia mydas  
Blackback butterflyfish Chaetodon melannotus  
Moorish idol Zanclus cornutus  
Tomato clownfish Amphiprion frenatus  
Lagoon triggerfish Rhinecanthus aculeatus  
Clown coris Coris aygula  
Blue sea star Linckia laevigata  
  • Level required Beginner
  • Maximum depth10ft/2.5m
  • Water entranceEasy, from a sandy beach
  • Potential DangersUsual precautions
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersMedium
  • Access costsFree
  • Restaurants nearbyYes
  • Public toilets & showersNo

MAP Spot

Sea turtle watching in Ama Beach

snorkeling-turtle

Sea turtles are a very familiar sight at high tide at Ama Beach. In order to be a responsible snorkeler, be sure to respect the following rules when observing them:

  1. Do not attempt to touch or ride sea turtles
  2. Stay at a distance (6 to 10ft) from sea turtles
  3. Do not chase a turtle swimming away
  4. Avoid sudden movement and allow sea turtles plenty of space when they come up to the surface to breathe

These snorkeling spots are accessible to beginners and kids. You will enter the water gradually from a beach, or in a less than 3ft. deep area. The sea is generally calm, shallow, with almost no waves or currents. These spots are usually located in marked and/or monitored swimming areas. It is not necessary to swim long distances to discover the sea life.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.