Tasting the Island
Amami Oshima, officially part of Kagoshima Prefecture and the largest of the Amami islands located within the Satsunan Archipelago between the Japanese mainland and Okinawa, has an intriguing food culture that draws from surrounding regions, as well as featuring its own unique character. As such, it is a fantastic place to let your stomach take the lead in guiding you around the island for a tour of its abundant culinary offerings.
Located along one of the finger-like peninsulas peeking out from the northern end of the island, in the town of Tatsugo, this restaurant is adjacent to the beachside Native Sea resort.
Featuring original local dishes and its own completely organic, pesticide-free vegetable garden, Forest offers an array of traditional Amami Oshima-style cuisine along with French and Italian offerings.
With dishes including lobster pasta, island-style tofu, and other traditional items such as miki – a creamy, yogurt-like drink made from fermented rice, sugar and sweet potatoes – Forest is a superb place to explore the local island cuisine alongside stunning ocean views. (Pro tip: ask to be seated on the outside terrace, which is not immediately visible, but which staff will happily guide you toward.)
Nest at Amami Beach Villas
Located a stone's throw down the road from the Native Sea resort and Forest restaurant, the Nest at Amami Beach Villas is a gorgeous collection of oceanfront cottages offering lunch and afternoon café time, in addition to sumptuous evening dinners at its Amanari restaurant.
When you've tired of swimming, snorkeling, or watching sea turtles bobbing up in the nearby exquisite aquamarine waters, Nest is a fantastic place to stop by for something scrumptious. Try the citrus tart featuring tankan (a popular local orange-like fruit) or the pumpkin coconut cream pudding, along with the café's array of fantastic coffees.
Located two peninsulas over (about a 35-minute drive) from the Forest and Nest cafés, this lovely establishment, just as its name would suggest, attracts travelers with its name – and then invites them to linger with its exceedingly friendly vibe.
Offering island tour guide services and information on local happenings, this is the place to settle in with a tasty curry and pizza, a flavored latte or smoothie, or just an ice cold beer – and then see how the conversation unfolds with the collection of locals and wanderers who may happen to be gathered when you arrive. After all, nothing happens by chance, right?
Kyora-umi Koubou offers an array of local products infused with the taste of the islands, including kokutou (brown sugar), cakes and cookies, along with a beautifully minimalist vibe.
With several locations around the island, including one close to the airport, this is a perfect place to begin – or end – your island visit for a snack and a coffee on its gorgeous oceanfront terrace alongside softly crashing waves.