A Day Trip to Shakotan
For food, scenery and even a swim in a sandy beach, the Shakotan Peninsula is a summer day trip to remember.
Grab your keys and your best travel buddies. Someone navigate, someone put the tunes on. Wind the windows down and share the snacks. We are going on an automotive adventure up the coast to Shakotan.
As the old saying goes, 'it's not about the destination, but the journey' and while Shakotan is an amazing destination, the journey to get there is equally rewarding. Drive from Niseko via the stunning Panorama Line to the coastal town of Iwanai and then head north, up the west coast of Hokkaido, hugging the cliff face as you weave through quaint little seaside towns on your way to Shakotan. The scenery gets better as you go, with huge capes jutting out in to the ocean and long tunnels, which take you beneath the rock, revealing a new and spectacular vista at the end.
The Best Bits
The two most famous points on the Shakotan Peninsula are Cape Kamui and the Shimamui Coast.
Cape Kamui shoots out in to the Sea of Japan like an arrow. A narrow pathway allows you to walk right out to its point, taking in mind-blowing views both out to the ocean and back towards land. The water here is so famously blue that Japanese people across the country commonly describe a shade of blue as 'Shakotan Blue'. The restaurant and souvenir shop is also worth a visit. Try the Shakotan Blue soft serve ice-cream.
The Shimamui Coast is another incredible spot not to be missed. Park the car and walk through the small pedestrian tunnel which reveals the most breath-taking of ocean views. Take the steps down to the beach and, for those who dare, swimming in the clear-as-glass water is a beautiful experience. A short hike around this coastline is also recommended. Keep an eye out for the majestic Japanese osprey bird perched upon one of the many incredible rock formations that line the coast.
Shakotan is widely-known as one of the best places in Japan to try uni (sea urchin) and ikura (salmon roe). These Japanese delicacies might seem a little intimidating to newcomers but are absolute must-try's and rarely disappoint.
Bikuni is a small town in the Shakotan region which has some of the freshest offerings of uni and ikura. Try Jun's Seafood Restaurant, Yukyu Sushi or Fuji Sushi for the best of the best.
Sandy beaches don't immediately spring to mind in association with Japan, but the beach at the Nozuka Camping Ground (located between Cape Kamui and the Shimamui Coast) is a real treat. A sandy beach and a gentle ocean make for perfect swimming conditions and, when the weather is nice, the atmosphere at this family-friendly campground is great. The smell of sizzling sausages on the BBQ is mouth-watering. And just as impressive are the huge, modern tents and canopies set up by the enthusiastic Japanese campers.
Thrill-seekers rejoice with the news that all of Niseko's local downhill mountain-biking courses are open for the summer.