The Kerama Islands are located about 40 kilometers west of Naha. Here you can find several islands of varying size, in a clear blue sea, surrounded by beautiful coral reefs.
Historically, the Kerama Island group was a part of the Ryukyu Kingdom. For some 600 years, the islanders were employed as skillful navigators for the Kingdom’s trading vessels between Okinawa and China. The islands also provided good moorings on the sea route.
There are about 50 diving spots around the Kerama Islands. Each spot has its own charm, and the water is crystal clear. The sea around Zamami is known for beautiful coral reefs of different kinds and for an abundance of migratory fish, including manta rays and whale sharks, not to mention colorful tropical reef-fish. This sea is an asset the people Okinawa can proudly show to the world.
Migratory humpback whales, once threatened by extinction, began to return to the Kerama Islands 10 years ago. It is reported that the number of whales that come to the Keramas each year is increasing. Under the guidance of the Zamami Whale Watching Association, people have intrduced self-imposed rules for whale watching, hoping that the sea around Okinawa will continue to be a breeding place for humpback whales.
During the January-April whale watching season, visitors can make trips on whale watching boats twice a day, each trip lasting about 2 hours. Visitors can see mother whales with calves and dramatic `breaching' (leaping clear out of the water), tail-slapping, and other actions of the gigantic humpback whales, which weigh about 30 tons and are about 15 meters in length.
The history of coral reefs in the Kerama islands began when they first appeared in the Ryukyu Arc 400,000 years ago and formed Ryukyu limestone.
Coral reefs play an important role in the Kerama Islands' ecosystem. They provide shelter and food for various marine animals including many species of fish, shrimp and crab.