I have often dreamed of a far off place, a tiny slice of paradise called Rebun Island. In this reoccuring dream I’m standing at the top of a lush green craggy cliff which is covered in wildflowers of yellow, white and purple. I slowly lift my gaze to look out at clear sapphire-blue waters stretching endlessly out as far as the eye can see. I turn my face up to the sky to feel the warm sunshine and a cool ocean breeze comes out of nowhere making my hair swirl majestically the way it only does in dreams. I’m on a wandering path, but in that moment I know I’m standing exactly where I’m meant to be. That’s all the dream is, a perfect moment in paradise…but it’s enough to bring me a great feeling of peace. The best part of this dream is that it’s a real memory, which makes it all the more vivid.
Hiking and admiring the beauty of surrounding nature has always been my way of finding harmony in life. This hobby adds balance to my otherwise busy life and it’s a means by which I make my own happiness. Being surrounded by nature always feels so right, more so now that I’m an adult and spend most of my days caught up in the rush of everyday existence and to-do lists. In moments where I’m stressed I have taken to closing my eyes and recalling that perfect moment on Rebun Island. The serenity in that perfect memory gives me strength.
My second day on Rebun Island I had originally planned to hike the famous 8-hour course. Unfortunately for me I injured one of my knees prior to departing for Hokkaido, too much running had resulted in a synovial fluid deficiency lubricating my knee joints. This is turn caused the bones in my knees to rub against each other painfully. You can see my white knee-brace in most pictures in this post. I was heartbroken to have injured myself only a week before the trip of a lifetime, but at the same time I was very lucky because my doctor told me that if I was careful I could still do some hiking in Hokkaido. She told me very strictly though that I would have to prioritize which hikes were the most important and only do a few, and while I hiked them to be very careful, going slow and not pushing myself too hard. Taking my time wasn’t an option for hiking the 8-hour course however, so my hostel strongly recommended I chose the 4-hour course which is the first 12 kilometres of the 8-hour course. A perfect compromise!
If you want the beauty of the 8-hour course but lack the time, the 4-hour course is a beautiful and very scenic subsection of the most famous hike. It begins at the same place as the 8-hour course, Cape Sukoton, but ends halfway along the full course at the Hamanaka Bus Stop, from where you’ll take a bus back. They told me to budget about 5 hours for this course, but I hiked it in about 5.5 hours because I wanted to take so many photos!
The hike begins at Cape Sukoton, the northernmost point on Rebun Island. It gets pretty windy here so be sure to bring a warm jacket, even in the summer!
There were quite a few other people from the hostel doing the same hike so we all started together, but eventually drifted apart. I did the hike with one other young lady from the hostel who spoke English very well and had been road tripping around Hokkaido like myself, but on a motorbike which sounded amazing. After 2 weeks of being alone I had a great time hiking with, her swapping stories and chatting about life.
The beginning of the hike starts along a paved road that will eventually lead you to the beginning of the hiking path. The hiking path then leads you up the coastal ridge overlooking the ocean. It was pretty nippy and windy which was better than a cup of coffee to wake me up. I loved seeing the beautiful lily wildflowers in this area so keep your eyes peeled!
Soon the path turned into a steady incline up the cliffs from which the views just got better and better. On your right side you have the deep blue waters of the ocean and on your left the rolling green hills of the island.
See the cute dog in the last photo? That poochie, dear readers is the luckiest dog in the whole world. Why? He is spoiled positively rotten. Every single day one of his family members takes him for a “morning walkies” up this ridge. They walk all the way to the best viewpoint (about 1.5 hours up) and then back down resulting in about a 3-hour long walk! If I am ever reincarnated I hope to have this dog’s life!
From the top of Cape Gorota was a view so beautiful I couldn’t believe I wasn’t dreaming. In Canada you typically have to work your little butt off and climb to the top of a mountain to get the beautiful view, I hadn’t even broken a sweat yet and I was being rewarded with views of clear sapphire waters and the island’s lush green hills below!
We reached the beach and I stopped for a bit to rest. My knee was tired and I wasn’t able to keep up with my friend’s pace any longer, so I encouraged her to leave me and I would see her at the bus stop perhaps. By this time the sun was out in full force so I stopped to apply more sunscreen, drink a lot of water and eat a snack. After my break I was feeling much more optimistic.
“And I won’t look back, I can go the distance! And I’ll stay on track; no, I won’t accept defeat! It’s an uphill slope, but I won’t lose hope, till I go the distance and my journey is complete…” I put on some of my all-time favourite hiking music and with the powerful words of Michael Bolton singing “I Can Go The Distance” from Disney’s Hercules began my journey again. It is such a perfect motivation song when you’re not feeling like you have the power to finish something. Incredibly cheesy I know, but it’s what I was in the mood for!
After Gorota Beach it was another steep trail up to the most breathtaking view of the entire hike in my opinion. It is on the top of this craggy cliff I’m standing in my dream. One couldn’t ask for a more perfect place in all its wild and majestic beauty to dream of. I took a moment to truly savour this moment, bask in the warm sunshine and breathe the crisp ocean breeze in. I couldn’t have been happier, and all my worries seemed to vanish. Perhaps that’s why my dreams bring me here, it’s a place with zero stress associated with it. My own little slice of paradise…
After this cliff you’re almost finished, just a short walk back down and inland towards the Hamanaka Bus Stop. I had to stop and ask for directions in the little town, but eventually made it to the bus stop with about 20 minutes to spare before the bus arrived. (Be careful to not miss the bus as I think it’s about a 2-hour wait until the next one!)
On the bus ride home, I squealed with glee because out on the water was a harem of seals out on the water. Talk about a great name to describe a group of seals, harem! Aren’t they just adorable floating around like that!
If you ever visit Rebun Island, please enjoy this hike, as with the Flower Hike it’s suitable for all levels! It’s not too difficult of a climb, but I do strongly recommend wearing solid hiking boots. It was a superb day hiking and one day I hope to go back and do the 8-hour hike. Until then I’ll just have to content myself with my dreams of paradise.
- For more general information about Rebun Island click here.
- To read about my adventures on Day 1 on Rebun Island click here.