The Giants' Causeway on the Kuril Islands

Ivan Dementievskiy
The waves roll over the shore, beat against huge stones and ledges and slowly, but persistently wear against the forbidding coast of Kunashir, one of the Kuril Islands on the eastern edge of Russia. The air is filled with the penetrating cries of seagulls and the smell of fish and salt. At the end of summer fish approach the islands to give birth to their offspring. This feast of life attracts not only seagulls, but also colossal lovers of red caviar—bears—who patrol the shore. The most important thing to know about bears is not to meet them on their path, as they don't like competitors.

Getting to the Kuril Islands is not an easy task. Every Sakhalin resident (people usually get here from Sakhalin Island) knows that, but they talk about getting to Kunashir very matter-of-factly. Despite being possible to travel here by boat or plane (from where you can see Japan if the weather cooperates), there is no guarantee that the journey will be fast or comfortable. Flights often are cancelled because of fog and cloudy skies and boat trips are often delayed due to storms and high waves. The locals say that if you get to the island by the second day after your scheduled fight, you are lucky as practically no one ever arrives on time.

If you are lucky and you have finally made it to the island, you absolutely must see Cape Stolbchaty. The locals would say that if you haven't seen Cape Stolbchaty on Kunashir, then you haven't been to the Kuril Islands.

The son of lava and the ocean

Photo credit: Ivan DementievskiyPhoto credit: Ivan Dementievskiy
Along with the basin of Golovnin Volcano, Lake Kipyashcheye, Ptichy Waterfall and Neskuchenskiye hot springs, Cape Stolbchaty is part of the state Nature Reserve Kurilskiy. Guests are allowed to roam free on the Stolbovskaya hiking trail, but when entering the protected area every visitor must obtain an entrance pass and learn the rules governing the preserve.


If you’re afraid of bears, maybe the cape isn’t for you

Photo credit: Ivan DementievskiyPhoto credit: Ivan Dementievskiy
Another unique feature here is the alternating of high and low tides, which need to be taken into account. Wearing tall rubber boots is highly recommended otherwise one could get marooned here for several hours while waiting for the waters to recede. But despite all of these inconveniences, which include complicated logistics, possible encounters with bears and high water flow, you will surely be compensated by the impressions you will take away from Cape Stolbchaty.

Photo credit: Ivan DementievskiyPhoto credit: Ivan Dementievskiy

You should come here in the morning before the sun appears from behind the mountains. Wait a little while and watch how ancient columns of hardened lava change their color in the first rays of the sun. Through the green waters you can see the honeycomb-like texture of the sea bottom, which looks like a turtle's shell.

Locals have reported multiple sightings over the years of bears coming here to sit on these stones and enjoy the view. It seems that these animals can instinctively feel from the depths of their wild souls that this is the most beautiful place on the island.

All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

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