Explore the Islands

Sakhalin Region

Russia Beyond
Russia Beyond
Large, small, volcanic and even uninhabited… Sakhalin Region has 87 islands! We make our way through a tall tenacious shrub, which locals refer to as a bamboo tree and find ourselves by the lake in the caldera of the Golovnin volcano. Wow, you can even see Japan!

Why not take a look at the largest fumarole in Russia now? Easily! This fissure spewing hot gas is located on Kunashir - on the slope of the Mendeleev volcano.

Phew… after all these trips to the mountains, time to go to the sea. We are heading to Sakhalin, namely, to the Tatar Strait. They say that a great wave will soon arrive, which local surfers will try to ride; in the meantime, we will cheer for these sea acrobats with all our hearts!

And, of course, you cannot leave the region without looking at its main attraction - the Aniva lighthouse! Standing on its peak, open to all winds, it’s time to plan your next trip to the islands.

Separately, let’s talk about the Kuril Islands, which are part of Sakhalin Region. This is still an unlikely tourist destination in the Far East. And great! How else to arrange a photo shoot almost all alone in the cinematic thickets of evergreen bamboo or relax after mountain trekking in thermal springs, the water in which is heated by the volcanoes themselves…!

And even if you meet another group of researchers of the Kuriles at one of the points of attraction, then, after waiting 30 minutes or an hour, you will still find yourself in romantic solitude with the surf that washes the talus of stone pillars (also, by the way, the creation of local volcanoes!).

The most beautiful light for contemplation from a high mountain of a rugged coastline is dawn or sunset. If you persuade yourself to get up very early somewhere in Kunashir or Shikotan, you will see with your own eyes that the Land of the Rising Sun is not Japan at all, but still Russia! Sunlight reaches our Far Eastern neighbors a little later, first completely illuminating the Kuril archipelago.

How to explore the islands?

To travel to the largest island in the region - Sakhalin - you do not need anything other than desire and a plane ticket! In summer, you can arrange cool trekking along simple routes and, in winter, you have an entire ski resort in the very center of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk at your disposal. Delicious seafood delicacies are available all year round, of course.

With a visit to the Kuril Islands, the situation is a little more complicated. You need to get a special permit to stay in the border areas. This is done through the State Services a few weeks prior to arrival. It is better to print the document and always carry it with you along with your passport.

Life hack: just in case, write in the request that you want to visit several islands, even if there is only one in the plans. The weather in these places is very capricious. The Russia Beyond film crew was forced to travel from Kunashir to Sakhalin by boat, because flights were canceled for at least three days, due to heavy fog. The comfortable ‘Pavel Leonov’ also called at the port of Shikotan, but, alas, it was not possible to explore this island without a pre-arranged permission.

If you want to see as much as possible in one trip, then look for 4-7-day sea cruises around the Kuril Islands. Not every traveler manages to see this beautiful archipelago from the sea, so be sure to take this opportunity if you get it!


The editors of Russia Beyond would like to thank the guide @povolkovich_fa  for helping with the filming and for finding a tricky way to dry the wet boots of the film crew in one night! And also many thanks to the coolest surf enthusiasts from @islanders_school and personally @yura_chemodurov for responding to our “roll for frame” request.

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