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Mangrove Kayaking Adventure

Mangrove Kayaking Adventure

As one of Amami Oshima’s most popular sights, a trip to the mangrove forest is a must for any nature lover’s itinerary. The mangrove forest in Sumiyo, Amami City consists of oval mangrove trees, or “mehirugi,” oriental mangrove trees, or “ohirugi,” and various other kinds of organisms that live in the mudflats. Thriving where saltwater and freshwater meet, the mangrove forest, spreading out over 71 hectares (175 acres) at the point where the Yakugachi River and the Sumiyo River meet the ocean, is designated as a Special Protection Area in the Amami Gunto National Park.

Scenery from viewpoint


Following our guide deeper into the forest

To explore the mangrove forest, you can take a private tour or join a group tour. It is recommended to book in advance, especially during busier seasons like holidays and school summer vacation. Yet, if your plans change, a last-minute booking can be made at least an hour prior via phone or in person, depending on the vacancy. If you wish for a guide who can speak English, it is best to mention that at the time of the reservation or book directly with an English-speaking guide.

The mangrove forest is accessible by car or bus. Private tours may offer a pick-up near your accommodation. For public transit, take the bus bound for Setouchi Umi-no-Eki from Naze. If you are departing from the northern area of the island, you will need to transfer buses in Naze. If you are coming from the southern part of the island near Setouchi, board the bus bound for Koshuku Daiichi Koen. Get off at Mangrove Park bus stop.

When planning the time and day to join a tour, it is recommended to check the tides. Both high and low tide offer different experiences, so plan ahead and book accordingly.


Small channel at low tide

While you might not be able to kayak as far into the forest as you could during high tide, low tide brings its own unique experiences! During a low tide tour, I enjoyed the “hands-on” feeling of the mud between my toes as we explored. Spotting small mudskippers hopping and splashing through the mud was a pleasure, and our guide found a couple of clams to show us since we didn’t have luck finding them on our own. Sometimes a trained eye is needed.

Mangrove clam

Having a guide to point out all the small things, and to answer all of our questions about the mangrove forest, was invaluable to getting the full experience. While a private tour grants you extra time and opportunities for one-on-one conversions with your guide, the group tour also provides ample chances to ask and learn.

What to Bring

At the entrance to the mangrove forest

While it can vary by occasion, and you should consult with the tour service you are using, here is a list of recommended items to bring:

・Jacket, rain jacket/poncho
・Camera/cell phone
・Phone strap
・Small towel
・Change of clothes
・Water bottle (depending on the length of the tour)

They provide flip-flops for you to change into, so your choice of shoes does not matter. They also provide life jackets. I would recommend wearing shorts or pants that can easily be rolled up. There are showers and restrooms at Kuroshio-no-Mori Mangrove Park if needed.

Concluding Thoughts

Tunnel photo spot

The tunnel pictured above is one of the go-to photo spots for visitors at the mangrove forest. Slowly paddling through the twisting branches and visible roots of the mangrove trees feels almost magical! However, it's not magic, it’s the splendor of nature.

I always enjoy learning about the natural beauty of Amami Oshima. I believe the best way to fully understand and appreciate its wonder is to go out and experience it–with a guide for both your safety and that of the animals whose home you are visiting. Both tours I went on included different encounters–on the group tour we saw a sea turtle visiting this meeting point between river and ocean. Meanwhile, on the private tour, we saw a school of black seabream swim by. You never know which mesmerizing encounters you’ll have, but the mangrove forest is sure to be the perfect adventure for your trip to Amami.

To learn more about the animals living both below and above the waters, I would also recommend visiting the World Natural Heritage Center next to Kuroshio Mangrove Park. It is free to enter and provides a wealth of information about the plants and animals that make this island unique.

Additional Information

This article includes photos from tours using two different services:
・Link Adventures, https://linkadv.jp/
・Kuroshio-no-Mori Mangrove Park, https://www.mangrovepark.com/?lang=en


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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