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Snorkeling at Taen Beach

Snorkeling at Taen Beach

Do you want to explore Amami Oshima’s beautiful beaches, but you’re not sure where to start or what to do? Well, if you want to know which beaches to visit, check out our article: Top 10 Beaches of Amami Oshima. If you want to know one of the best things to do at a beach, keep reading!

Photo credit: Matsueda Kyoichi (Sanctuary Amami Guide Service)

Snorkeling is one of the simplest and most fun ways to explore ocean life. Not only can you see the flourishing life surrounding coral reefs, but you can also do so even if you’re not a confident swimmer! We made quite a group with two people who cannot swim, a plus-sized person, and a person who had recently encountered a not-so-nice stonefish at a different beach (she’s okay).

Planning

Since we wanted to make sure our group would not be too much to handle, we made sure to ask a lot of questions beforehand. Contacting mainly through email, we confirmed the life jacket sizes available and whether not knowing how to swim would be a dealbreaker. Our guide answered our questions in a timely manner and reassured us that he will start with a snorkeling lesson to ensure we will be able to snorkel safely.

This was us during the lesson watching out for the splashes from some powerful kicks:

On the day of, we left fairly early in the morning. It took us approximately an hour and a half to travel from Naze to Taen Beach. Sometimes a GPS will give shorter estimates of travel time, but, because of the windy roads on Amami Oshima, it is best to give yourself extra travel time–especially for longer distances.

I would recommend bringing someone who knows at least a little bit of Japanese with you because you can’t very well take a translation device with you in the water (unless you can, which is cool, but also it’s a hassle to carry, so I would just recommend a person). Since you’re mostly copying what the guide is doing, I wouldn’t say a high level of Japanese is needed, but at least a basic understanding would be helpful as charades can only get you so far.

An ‘adan’ fragrant screw pine

Weather

Originally we had planned to sea kayak from Taen Beach to Edataku Island and snorkel there, but due to the bad weather and high waves, we limited our snorkeling to the area by Taen Beach. Our guide contacted us the day before explaining the situation and offering us a chance to reschedule, but we decided to go ahead with our original date since one of us would be leaving the island to return home the next week.

Since it was raining rather hard, after picking out our fins and goggles, we decided to wait before going out into the ocean. However, after around 15 minutes, it calmed down and didn’t have any other problems. The sun even started peaking through the clouds rewarding us for our patience after a while.

Overall, I felt that the weather didn’t have too much of an impact on the experience besides making the photos less striking. Unfortunately, however, that does mean that any underwater pictures were too dark to make use of. While we did see many fish, please be aware that the photos of fish in this article are from different days.

Photo credit: Matsueda Kyoichi (Sanctuary Amami Guide Service)

Experience

After arriving, we greeted our guide and then went to get changed. He pulled out brand new life jackets for us to break in and led us to the rest area where he had taken the other items needed. We picked out fins, snorkeling goggles, and for us who did not have them, marine shoes. He then brought around a fog-preventative gel he asked us to rub around the inside of the goggle lenses. We left the gel on until we entered the ocean and dipped them in the water.

After our short lesson, he went to grab a foam board for our inexperienced swimmers to grip for extra stability, and then we were ready to explore!

We managed to see various fish, such as clown fish and other fish I can’t name (sorry I'm not as knowledgeable about fish species as I thought I’d be). We were given a piece of sausage made from fish and broke it into even smaller pieces to feed the fish. Interestingly enough, the sausage was actually made from fish, but considering the law of the jungle/ocean, I shouldn’t have been that surprised that they devoured it with relish.

Photo credit: Matsueda Kyoichi (Sanctuary Amami Guide Service)

While we didn’t see any, according to the guide, there are a few sea turtles in the area. However, he also recommended those wanting to specifically see sea turtles should go to beaches in Kasari, the northern part of Amami Oshima.

    Photo credit: Matsueda Kyoichi (Sanctuary Amami Guide Service)

After feeding the fish, we went back to shore to take a break. There was a vending machine, so if anyone needed more water, it was available. After resting, we did a round two a little further out. Our guide made sure to ask if we had enough energy to go a little further or if we wanted to go to the first reef we saw. The second reef was even larger, and time just flew by looking at the wonders of the ocean. We were all thankful for the way the instructor catered to everyone’s abilities and adapted as needed to give us the best experience.

What To Bring

Our guide specifically recommended we bring clothing we can snorkel in (swimsuit, rash guard, etc.), sunscreen, marine shoes, and a hat for when sea kayaking (recommended but not required). He did have some extra marine shoes for us to use, but he did not have a variety of sizes, so it is recommended to bring your own.

I would add that since it is a 3~4 hour activity, one should bring a beach bag with water and anything you might need. I would also recommend waterproof/zip lock bags for cell phones and such if one plans to take them to the beach rather than leaving them in the rest area. Towels and a change of clothes are also needed, and there are showers at Taen Beach that can serve as changing rooms before and after.

I would also recommend bringing lunch or making a reservation somewhere close by as we were starving by the end. The guide recommended a nearby cafe, but, unfortunately, they require a prior reservation. We ended up waiting a little longer and found a place to eat on the way back–a place where we also just so happened to meet the Amami City Mayor, Yasuda Sohei, who was eating at a nearby table!

Concluding Thoughts

While I wished we had been able to go on a clear day, sometimes that is not possible. However, I think this provided a good opportunity to show that one can enjoy Amami Oshima come rain or shine, and since it is a subtropical island, it rains pretty often. Furthermore, it worked out for me personally because I tend to burn somewhat easily, and the clouds certainly kept the sun away.

Our guide was honestly the best and was so accommodating to all of our needs and questions. I was personally worried about the life jacket sizes because I have experienced not being able to close the clasps on life vests before. However, our guide specifically brought out brand new life jackets with adjustable straps.

Overall, plans do not always go exactly as expected, but it's best to enjoy the opportunities presented and have a good time with friends.

“A fun experience I would love to do again.”

“Great experience, even though I cannot swim I managed to do it.”

“‘The instructor was patient and kind. He gave us a lesson before the adventure which made it easy to snorkel’ - the beach babe”

Additional Information

The guide we used for snorkeling at Taen Beach was Matsueda Kyoichi from Sanctuary Amami Guide Service
 ・http://teppen.wixsite.com/sanctuary-amami

WRITER

Rose Craig

Rose Craig started working as the Coordinator for International Relations for Amami City in November 2021. Born and raised in rural Texas, she enjoys exploring the nature of the Amami Islands and finding the similarities and differences that make every place unique. When not translating materials, she is running the Explore Amami social media accounts, writing articles, taking pictures, exploring, and more!

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