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Kuril Islands

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Earth : Europe : Russia : Russian Far East : Kuril Islands
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The Kuril Islands (Russian: Кури́лы, koo-REE-lyh; Japanese: Chishima Islands, 千島列島, Chishima Rettō), are a chain of islands in the Russian Far East, located directly to the north of Japan and east of Sakhalin.

An empty beach in the Kurils


Kurils map.png


Other destinations[edit]

  • Kurilsky Zapovednik - Impressively beautiful nature reserve, considered the best example of an unspoilt, pristine environment of the same flora and fauna native to Japan
  • Atlasov Island - An Island-volcano in the Kurils praised by the Japanese for its near perfect shape, similar to Mount Fuji


Though still claimed by their former owner, Japan, the Kuriles are now thoroughly Russian, sparsely populated and poor. Most locals make their living fishing in the island chain's abundant waters. The chain's most populated island is Kunashir, centered on Yuzhno-Kurilsk, but its smaller administrative capital Kurilsk is located on the biggest island, Iturup.


As with much of Russia, Russian is the predominant language, some Japanese is spoken as well.

Get in[edit]

The largest nearby Russian cities with airports are Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk to the west on the island of Sakhalin, and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to the north. The former's airport has flights on domestic carriers to Yuzhno-Kurilsk and Kurilsk.

Travelers going to the Kuril Islands arrive most quickly via plane from Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, but it is also possible to take a slower ferry from Sakhalin to Kunashir and on to Iturup.

Also ferries run from Japan at certain times of the year to Yuzhno Sakhalinsk. There are also smaller local ferries that travel around the islands. Expedition company Heritage Expeditions takes 50 passengers on a Kuril Islands Cruise every May-June around the Kuril Islands including visits to Atlasova, Onekotan, Ekaram, Toporkovy, Simushir, Yankicha, Chirpoy Islands.

Get around[edit]

Places to visit include the Kurilskiy State Natural Reserve, Volcano Baransky, Tyatya Volcano, Museum of Local Lore and the Cape Edge of the World.

See[edit][add listing]

Revered for its perfect shape, the volcano Atlasov


Do[edit][add listing]

Eat[edit][add listing]

Be sure to eat seafood in the Kurils, as the fishing in this part of the North Pacific is considered some of the best in the world. You may well see this seafood available in expensive restaurants around the world offered at prices a hundred times what it will cost to enjoy it here.

Drink[edit][add listing]

Stay safe[edit]

Get out[edit]

  • HokkaidoJapan's northernmost island paradise for skiing, hot springs, and delicious regional cuisine is a relatively short ferry ride away from Sakhalin, although there are no regular ferries between the Kurils and Hokkaido due to the political conflict.
  • Kamchatka — If you have the time to wait and find someone to ferry you from Severno-Kurilsk it's a beautiful destination for outdoors enthusiasts and a worthwhile addition to a Kurils trip.
  • Sakhalin — Russia's largest eastern island is the most convenient point of entry to the Kurils, and the most convenient point of exit.

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