Enjoy cycling and trekking on two remote islands in japan‘s far north
Rishiri and Rebun, two small islands off Hokkaido’s northernmost point, offer a unique and breathtaking experience for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts. These islands, resembling something out of a fantasy novel, boast sweeping coastal views, diverse landscapes, and minimal signs of civilization. With hiking trails of varying difficulty levels and cycling routes that allow you to take in the beauty of the islands, Rishiri and Rebun are perfect destinations for outdoor activities. Additionally, the islands offer delicious seafood delicacies that will satisfy your taste buds. Whether you are a seasoned hiker or a casual cyclist, these islands have something for everyone.
One of the highlights of Rishiri Island is the view from the summit of Mt. Rishiri. Known as Rishiri-Fuji for its resemblance to Mt. Fuji, this majestic peak provides a 360-degree panoramic view of the island’s wetlands and forests. On a clear day, you can even catch a glimpse of neighboring Rebun Island and Russia’s Sakhalin Island. To reach the summit, you can choose from several climbing routes, but be prepared for a challenging ascent. It is recommended to visit during the official climbing season, which starts in July. However, trekking is possible from late June to early October. The annual festival in July marks the beginning of the climbing season on Rishiri Island.
Rishiri Island is also known for its seasonal floral magic. Throughout the year, the island displays a stunning array of flowers and plants. In spring, the skunk cabbage flowers bloom, signaling the arrival of the season. During summer, vibrant and colorful flowers cover the landscape, creating a picturesque scene. In autumn, the leaves turn into a beautiful tapestry of red, orange, and yellow hues. And in winter, the island transforms into a magical winter wonderland, with snow covering the landscape. The unique alpine plants found on Mt. Rishiri add to the island’s charm and make it a paradise for nature enthusiasts.
Cycling around Rishiri Island is a popular activity among visitors. You can rent bicycles and follow the dedicated 25-kilometer cycling road that circles the island. Along the way, you can stop to explore the forested areas and enjoy the serene ambiance of the island. Camping is also an option for those who want to immerse themselves in nature and spend a night under the starry sky.
Rebun Island, although smaller in size, offers its own unique charms. The island is famous for its alpine plants, with approximately 300 varieties growing wild even at sea level. Rebun is often referred to as the “Floating Island of Flowers” due to its abundance of colorful blooms. The peak flowering season is from May to August, and taking a stroll through the fields of flowers is a truly enchanting experience. Cape Sukoton, located at the northernmost point of the island, showcases the rugged and eroded coastline, adding a touch of dramatic beauty to Rebun’s landscape. The crags of Cape Gorota are another sight worth exploring.
To fully appreciate the beauty of Rebun Island, a visit to the Momoiwa Observation Deck is a must. From this vantage point, you can enjoy panoramic views of the island and even catch a glimpse of Mt. Rishiri on a clear day. There are numerous trekking courses and sightseeing spots that allow you to immerse yourself in the island’s natural beauty. From Cape Kanedano, you can observe seals basking in the sun during the summer and early winter months.
When planning your visit to Rishiri and Rebun Islands, it is important to consider the weather conditions. The best time to enjoy the charming flowers is from late April to mid-September, with July and August being the peak tourist season. However, from November to February, the islands experience strong seasonal winds, and the average temperature drops to around -7 degrees Celsius. During this period, ferry services may be suspended, and outdoor activities may be limited due to the harsh weather conditions.
The duration of your stay on the islands depends on your preferences and activities. If you want to explore both Rishiri and Rebun at a leisurely pace, a three-day stay is recommended. This will allow you to engage in hiking, cycling, and sightseeing while immersing yourself in the natural wonders of the islands. However, if you are short on time, it is still possible to see the highlights of both islands in just a day by taking advantage of the sightseeing bus services that follow the ferry schedule.
To reach Rishiri and Rebun Islands, you can take a direct flight from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport or Sapporo’s New Chitose Airport to Wakkanai Airport. Wakkanai serves as the main access point to both islands, and from there, you can take a ferry to reach your destination. The ferry ride from Wakkanai to each island takes less than two hours, allowing for convenient transportation between the mainland and the islands.
In conclusion, Rishiri and Rebun Islands offer a unique and unforgettable experience for nature lovers and adventure seekers. From the breathtaking views of Mt. Rishiri to the vibrant floral displays on Rebun Island, these remote islands in Japan’s far north are a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you choose to hike to the summit of Mt. Rishiri, cycle around Rishiri Island, or explore the alpine plants on Rebun Island, you will be captivated by the untouched beauty and serenity of these hidden gems. So pack your bags, put on your hiking boots or hop on a bicycle, and embark on an adventure to Rishiri and Rebun Islands.
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