The Amami archipelago (奄美諸島) comprises Kagoshima prefecture's southernmost islands and boasts excellent beaches and subtropical forests. The main gateway and transport hub, Amami-Ōshima, has seen a surge in popularity in recent years, due to new airline routes, improved ferry connections and tourism infrastructure. The latter includes a handful of fresh, appealing accommodation offerings for the discerning traveller.
The other islands in the chain are dominated by sugar-cane cultivation and are less geared for tourism, but each has its own low-key charms beyond pretty, quiet beaches and uncrowded dive spots. Tokunoshima has great snorkelling and Hawaii-esque vistas, while delightfully rusty and retro Okinoerabu-jima (also experiencing a slow but steady visitor upswing) adds intriguing caves and giant banyan trees to the mix.
Furthest south, tiny Yoron-tō – within sight of Okinawa-hontō – is an important hub for inter-island transport and for the preservation of local language and culture.