At the end of the world: 5 reasons to visit the Kuril Islands at least once in your life
Vladimir Vinogradov September 10, 2023, 1:15 PM Moscow time Audio version: Your browser does not support the audio element.
The brightest views of Iturup, Kunashir and Shikotan through the eyes of an experienced traveler.
President of Pro-Vision, author of the Vinogradov.story community
“Looking at the map of the Russian Far East, sooner or later you pay attention to the elongated archipelago that limits the outlet of the Sea of Okhotsk to the Pacific Ocean – the Kuril Islands. It seems that this line is artificially constructed here. But the first impression is deceptive: Iturup, Shikotan and Kunashir are exclusively natural creations, and it is nature that determines the incredible attractiveness of these islands for travelers. Next I will tell you about the most striking natural attractions of the Kuril Islands.”
Read about UNESCO heritage sites in Russia below:
Traveler’s Choice: 5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Russia Worth Seeing
Yankito Lava Plateau and Kasatka Bay, Iturup
The Kuril Islands appeared as a result of active volcanic activity and there are many volcanoes here. During the eruption of one of them, streams of hot lava descended directly into the sea, forming a lifeless dark brown lava field at the boundary between water and land. The local landscapes resemble science fiction films, but the events here, as in many places in Iturup, unfolded quite realistically.
The most famous occurred in Kasatka Bay. In November 1941, a Japanese squadron entered the Pacific Ocean from here and subsequently bombed the Hawaiian Pearl Harbor. Everyone knows perfectly well what this led to. And in 1960 the story of the legendary “Cuatro Iturup” began here. The conscripted sailors, keeping watch on a small barge, were swept into the ocean, where they heroically fought against the elements, hunger and despair for 49 days. But they won: they were picked up by an American ship and, fortunately, the people were saved.
White rocks of Prostor Bay, Iturup
The “authorship” of the picturesque white rocks is attributed to underwater volcanoes, and the color, unusual folded shape and fragility are attributed to an alloy of porous volcanic glass and pumice. The white rocks crumble easily in the palm of your hand, something not at all expected from such monumental giants.
Perhaps its poetic name is due to the contrast with the black titanium and magnetite sand. Due to its high iron content, it is very attracted to magnets. And thanks to the vanadium and titanium it contains, Iturup sand has been used for a long time to make samurai swords, which are distinguished by their enviable strength and lightness.
To appreciate the White Rocks in all their splendor, come in the morning with clear, sunny weather. At dusk they darken and at dawn and dusk they turn pinkish red, which looks very cinematic.
Geothermal springs, Iturup
The Kuril Islands are an unsatisfied Baden-Baden of the Far East. Only in Iturup, the thermal baths, mineral springs and landscape baths promise to immediately cure all the ailments and diseases of modern man. You are nervous? Welcome to “Vannochki”. Do your joints bother you? Immerse yourself in “Aguas Calientes”! And the steam hydrotherms of the Baransky volcano on the Boiling River, as if justifying their name, will warm and relax a tired body with all the power of 42 natural degrees.
Siliceous and thermal, sulfides and carbon dioxide, ferruginous, arsenic and polymetallic: nature has provided Iturup with a wide variety of water-salt riches. If the island was a little closer to the “mainland”, I am sure that no one would remember Baden-Baden. But flying “to bathe” to the end of the world has its undeniable charm.
Kunashir Fumarole Fields and Green Coast
Kunashir is the southernmost inhabited island of the Kuril Islands, located much closer to Japan than to Russia. Despite its relatively modest size, the island can surprise even the most experienced travelers. Its relief is formed by three giant volcanoes, around one of which, the Mendeleev volcano, there are fields of fumaroles that allow volcanic gases and steam to pass through.
After carefully wandering among the fumaroles, it is worth stopping at Cape Stolbchaty, where basalt columns burst into the sky and multifaceted lava prisms are scattered under your feet. And end the trip along the green coast of Kunashir with the obligatory “protocol” photo at the Devil’s Finger kekur.
Cape at the End of the World and Bezymyannaya Bay, Shikotan
The Cape at the End of the World in Shikotan does not owe its name at all to its unconditional romance: the nearest eastern land to here is actually about 5,400 km away. Footage filmed at the cape can be seen in the Soviet film about Robinson Crusoe, as can scenes in Bezymyannaya Bay. According to a beautiful legend, it received its name because the discoverers could not find words to describe its magnificence. By the way, of all the islands of the Kuril archipelago, Shikotan is the most suitable for a “wild” vacation with a tent: there are no bears and almost no snakes.
Find material for lovers of beautiful lakes here:
Traveler’s Choice: Top 5 Places with Beautiful Lakes in Russia and Beyond
Do you want more tips and tricks for a healthy lifestyle?
Subscribe to the weekly Lifestyle newsletter.
Subscribe by email