Sakhalin Oblast, Russia

Sakhalin Island, known in Japan as Karafuto (樺太), is located in the Russian Far East. The fish-shaped island lies in the Sea of Okhotsk and Sea of Japan north of Hokkaido, Japan, separated from the mainland by the Strait of Tartary. It occupies the bulk of the territory of the Sakhalin region, which, in addition to Sakhalin itself, includes the Kuril Islands.

Sakhalin is a real end of the earth, but not a small island lost in the Pacific Ocean like the Kuril Islands, but a large and distinctive region with its own railway network and industry. Although the most interesting natural attractions on Sakhalin are nature almost untouched by humans; diverse, different from the mainland Far East and landscapes colored by mountains and sea - there are also historical sites here. Sakhalin is the place where Russian culture came into closest contact with Japanese culture, and some traces of their interaction are still noticeable.



Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk is a city on the southern tip of the island, the largest on Sakhalin; administrative center of the region.
Alexandrovsk-Sakhalinsky is the oldest settlement on the island, a port on the shore of the Tatar Strait; Chekhov lived here during his work on Sakhalin
Korsakov is a port city in the southern part of Sakhalin
Uglegorsk is a city in the central part of Sakhalin, the center of coal mining
Nogliki is a village in the north of Sakhalin, an oil production center and the northernmost point of the Sakhalin Railway
Okha is a city in the north of the island, an oil production center
Kholmsk is a port city on the western coast of Sakhalin
Makarov is a city in the central part of Sakhalin, dominated by the fishing industry.
Shakhtersk is a city of miners in the Uglegorsk region



The island's territory has been inhabited since prehistoric times. It is assumed that people came here via a land isthmus, which arose when the level of the World Ocean dropped, after which two main nationalities were formed on Sakhalin - the Nivkhs and the Ainu. The Nivkhs lived in the northern part of the island, as well as in adjacent areas of the mainland. The Ainu inhabited the southern part of Sakhalin and the Japanese island of Hokkaido. After World War II, most of the Ainu were deported to Japan, the rest were completely assimilated (and in Japan even today the Ainu are not favored at all, since they are all hereditary “non-citizens”, just like the Koreans). The Nivkhs still exist as one of the small peoples of Russia.

From the end of the 13th century, the territory of Sakhalin belonged to the Mongol Empire, then to the great Ming Empire of China, but none of these large empires left visible traces in the history of the island. In the middle of the 17th century, the Japanese came to Sakhalin, and soon Russian pioneers appeared here, but for two centuries, Russian and Japanese colonialists coexisted peacefully. Although there are still few people on Sakhalin, at that time there were, of course, even fewer, so there was enough space for everyone. Moreover, vast undeveloped territories remained, and the key geographical question of communication with the mainland was not even clarified. For centuries, Sakhalin was considered a peninsula. Its island nature was finally established only in 1849 by the Nevelsky expedition, which discovered the strait of the same name.

Since 1855, Sakhalin has been a joint possession of Russia and Japan. 20 years later, Russia exchanges the southern part of Sakhalin for the northern Kuril Islands, but after the Russo-Japanese War (1905-1906) it returns southern Sakhalin to Japan. The border is drawn completely arbitrarily, along the 50th parallel, because there are still very few people here. After the defeat of Japan in World War II, Southern Sakhalin again passes to Russia, all Japanese are evicted from the island, and besides the Russians, only captured Koreans who worked in Japanese camps during the war remain here. During Soviet times, the population of Sakhalin was replenished with migrants from all over the USSR, but the national composition remained almost unchanged. Koreans make up the second largest ethnic group (5% of the population), and the total population of Sakhalin is about 500 thousand people (2010). Although all Sakhalin cities were built (or completely rebuilt) after the war, the island still uses Japanese infrastructure: especially railways and trains.



The basis of Sakhalin's economy is the development of offshore oil and gas fields. Fishing also plays a significant role, but coal mining has practically ceased. Oil and gas fields are jointly developed by Russian and international companies, so there are many foreigners on Sakhalin. Offshore development projects have received the same names: “Sakhalin-1”, “Sakhalin-2”, etc. However, only the first two are in effect, and even those are of great concern to environmentalists. The old Sakhalin industry - coal mining in particular - is in decline.



Due to the proximity of the cold Sea of Okhotsk, summer on Sakhalin can be very cool and humid in the north, but quite warm in the south, and noticeably warmer than on the parallel mainland coast. If in the north, even at the height of summer, you can see unmelted ice floes in the sea, then in the south, high humidity leads to hot and stuffy weather (above +22 degrees is already quite difficult to bear). Until the end of May, the temperature may not rise above +10 °C, but in October, daytime temperatures in the shade often reach +20 °C (a real golden autumn!). The average winter temperature is only −6 °C in the southern part of the island, but can drop to −24 °C in the northern part and on some days reaches −40 °C, and sometimes even −45 °C in the Tymovskaya Valley. In summer, the average temperature does not exceed 19 °C.

The southern part of Sakhalin is influenced by the warm current in the Tatar Strait: winter here lasts from December to March, summer - from June to September and even until early October. Warmer sea water makes the climate milder than on the opposite, mainland side of the strait. The north is characterized by much colder weather: winter lasts from October to May, a very mild summer includes only 2 months - July and August (only in mid-June the foliage on the trees begins to bloom). Sakhalin has high cyclonic activity all year round, one of the highest in the country (more only in Kamchatka). The average annual precipitation on the island is high and averages about 800-900 mm, characterized by both prolonged summer rains and very heavy snowfalls in winter - in the mountains the snow cover can reach 5 meters, and in one night it can easily fall up to 1.5 meters snow. Due to the proximity of the Pacific Ocean, typhoons with thunderstorms and squally winds are common, mainly in the south of the island. In general, the climate is more humid and with significantly more precipitation than on the mainland coast of the Tartary Strait.

Sakhalin is a seismic zone. On the island and in the nearby sea it shakes regularly (every year), sometimes quite noticeably.

So living on Sakhalin, in terms of the wide variety of weather conditions and regular disasters, is not even boring.



Sakhalin has an area of 70,000 km2 and is the largest island in Russia. Several geographical names familiar from school are associated with it: the La Perouse Strait separates Sakhalin from the Japanese island of Hokkaido, and the Strait of Tartary is located between Sakhalin and the mainland. The strait narrows to the north and at its narrowest point is called the Nevelskoy Strait. Sakhalin is characterized by complex and even mountainous terrain. Two mountain ranges stretch from north to south (West Sakhalin and East Sakhalin mountains, heights up to 1600 m) with a valley in the middle. To the north, the area decreases and turns into swampy taiga, and in some places even tundra. The middle and southern parts of the island are characterized by dense forests.

Sakhalin is located in a zone of seismic activity; Earthquakes, including destructive ones, are common here. For example, in 1995, an earthquake completely destroyed the city of Neftegorsk in the north of the island, and in 2007 Nevelsk was badly damaged.

The fauna of Sakhalin is very diverse. More than 2,000 brown bears live in the forests, which can often be found on roads and even near populated areas. Sables and otters are also common, but are more difficult to spot. Reindeer live in the north of the island, and whales live in the sea: the coastal zone of Sakhalin is the main feeding ground for the endangered population of Western Pacific gray whales. Beluga whales and fur seals also live here.



The Nivkhs are the only ethnic group that has lived on Sakhalin since ancient times. About 2,000 Nivkhs live on the island - mainly in its northern, taiga part, with its center in the village of Nekrasovka, not far from the city of Okha. The Nivkhs are characterized by a traditional, semi-nomadic way of life: in the summer they live on the coast, and in the winter they go along the rivers deep into the island. The main occupations of the Nivkhs are hunting and fishing. In the 20th century, more and more representatives of the indigenous people moved to a sedentary lifestyle in mixed villages and assimilated (not without pressure from the authorities). Nevertheless, the unique Nivkh language, which is not included in any of the language families, still remains. In recent years, there has been a certain revival of the national culture of the Nivkhs. In particular, shamanism remains. According to Nivkh beliefs, Sakhalin is a giant beast lying on its stomach in the ocean, and the trees represent the fur of this beast. If the animal is disturbed, it wakes up and an earthquake occurs.



Anton Chekhov, who voluntarily went to Sakhalin to conduct a population census, described in detail Sakhalin life at the end of the 19th century in his documentary story “Sakhalin Island”. At that time, the island was one of the main places of exile, and the authorities thus solved two problems at once - they removed unreliable citizens away from themselves and contributed to the development of new remote territories. The realities of the Sakhalin hard labor appear bleak, and for the metropolitan public of that time, Chekhov’s story became a revelation (now it is rather perceived as a harbinger of camp literature of the 20th century and, despite all the documentation, contains many psychological moments). The theme was developed in the book “Sakhalin” by Vlas Doroshevich, who visited Sakhalin several years after Chekhov, and the story “Katorga” by Valentin Pikul, dedicated to the events of the Russian-Japanese War.

Before the trip, you can read Chekhov’s story (which, by the way, contains a lot of useful information about local nature) and compare it with current impressions, because Sakhalin still remains a kind of “end of the earth”, lost on the outskirts of Russia, and for most residents of the country this is not more than a spot on a geographical map.



The main language of Sakhalin is Russian. Koreans constitute the largest national minority and primarily inhabit the middle part of the island; however, many of them no longer speak Korean. Due to its proximity to Japan, employees of restaurants and hotels in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk may know Japanese at least at a minimal level, but you should not count on it.


How to get there

Sakhalin has no land connections with the mainland. Construction of the tunnel began in the late 1940s, but ended with the death of Stalin. Since then, the project has been discussed several times and is still being discussed to this day, but it looks no less fantastic than the construction of a tunnel between Sakhalin and Hokkaido - especially taking into account the current state of the BAM and the Sakhalin Railway. Today, you can only get to Sakhalin by air and sea. Theoretically, in winter it is possible to cross the ice of the Nevelskoy Strait near the city of Lazarev, but reliable (and successful) cases of such movement are unknown.

On Sakhalin, heavy rains, snowfalls, and sometimes typhoons are common - during such periods (especially in winter), communication with the island can be completely interrupted. Water transport is more susceptible to weather anomalies and is generally less predictable in time. If the main goal of your trip is Sakhalin itself, it is more convenient to use an airplane, although the sea route has its own charm in terms of natural and ethnographic impressions, as well as the very feeling of a long and difficult journey to the “end of the earth.”


Border zone

The territory of Sakhalin is not part of the border zone, so your movements around the island will be limited only by the availability of roads and suitable vehicles, as well as communication with bears and other representatives of the local fauna. Entry to Sakhalin is almost always accompanied by passport control, during which foreigners are registered for some unknown reason, while Russians’ passports are simply looked at. The islands adjacent to Sakhalin are also not included in the border zone; in the Sakhalin region only the Kuril Islands belong to it.


By plane

Although the population of Sakhalin is small, air traffic here is quite active. Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Airport accepts flights from many Russian cities; international traffic has been closed since 2020. Local airports operate in the cities of Okha and Shakhtersk, the village of Nogliki and the unknown village of Zonalnoye, which is located near the village of Tymovskoye and the city of Aleksandrovsk-Sakhalinsky. All these airports have more or less regular connections with Khabarovsk, operated by Yakutia Airlines. Planes fly to Okha almost every day, to Nogliki usually every other day, and flights to Shakhtersk and Zonalnoye occur no more than 1-2 times a week.


By ship

Ferry Vanino-Kholmsk
The main waterway to Sakhalin is the year-round Vanino-Kholmsk ferry crossing. Vanino (on the mainland) can be reached by rail from Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Khabarovsk and Vladivostok, and from Kholmsk it is easy to travel deeper into the island. The ferry is focused on cargo transportation, which completely determines its schedule, further complicated by difficult weather conditions. A one-way crossing takes from 14 to 18 hours and is possible no more than once a day, since only two ferries out of three available carry passengers.

Usually the motion on a ferry is no stronger than on a train, but sometimes there are strong waves in the Strait of Tartary. If you are unsure that you will be able to handle the ferry ride well, take anti-sickness tablets with you, as the flight attendants are not guaranteed to have such tablets.

It is strongly recommended to pre-book seats on the ferry for the desired date by calling the ticket office in Vanino +7 (42137) 7-40-88 (24 hours a day). Even in the low season there may be no places available, for example, due to the transport of a group of military personnel. Reservations are possible approximately one month before the trip. Before booking, decide on the type of cabin. If funds allow, choose a stateroom on the upper deck, where double, quadruple and deluxe cabins are available. In the lower deck cabins, located just above sea level, the windows are covered with a cover, leaving passengers without a view of the Tartary Strait and without daylight. There are 2-berth, 4-berth and 8-berth cabins available. In reality, 8-berth cabins contain only 6 berths. All cabins, including doubles, have bunk beds only. The double cabin is quite spacious; in addition to a bunk bed, it has a wardrobe, a table, a sofa, and a sink with a tap. The 8-berth cabin, naturally, is not so spacious and does not have a sink. Some passengers may be unpleasantly surprised by a lower level of service than on airplanes or railways: old furniture in cabins, leaking taps, rusty pipes in toilets. However, the bed linen is quite clean. The total cost of the ticket consists of the base price indicated on the ferry operator’s website, the ticket office fee (420₽), the reservation (220₽) and the bus ticket (170₽) from the station to the pier. The full price of a ticket for a 2-berth cabin on the upper deck is 2,636 rubles, and for an 8-berth cabin on the lower deck is 2,097 rubles. As you can see, the price difference is not that big compared to higher comfort. All prices are for 2017. The ticket price includes a simple hot meal: pasta with sausages and tea. From May 15 to October 15, travel on the upper deck without a berth in the cabin is possible. Such a seat costs 1541₽ including all fees.

The day before departure, call the ticket office again to confirm your reservation and clarify the ferry departure time. Having arrived at Vanino station, go to the station building, where the ferry ticket office is located directly opposite the entrance. To the left of the entrance is the waiting room, to the right is the hall with the railway ticket offices. At the ferry ticket office they indicate the arrival time of the next ferry from Kholmsk and the start time of ticket sales for this ferry (usually an hour before arrival). First, tickets are purchased based on reservation. Once there are no passengers with reservations left at the ticket office, all remaining seats go on free sale. Therefore, it is important to be at the ticket office at least an hour before the ferry arrives in order to have time to redeem your reserved seats. A free meal voucher is issued along with the ticket. A sure sign of the arrival of your ferry is the appearance of a large group of arriving passengers in the station building to buy train tickets. From the moment the ferry arrives, it is recommended not to go far from the station so as not to miss the announcement about boarding the ferry. From the arrival of the ferry to its departure to Kholmsk it usually takes about three hours. If your ferry is still on the way, you can go into the city by crossing the railway tracks along the viaduct. After the announcement of boarding the ferry, passengers' luggage begins to be checked for the presence of prohibited items. The check is carried out by private security officers of the Ministry of Transport of Russia at a special table right in the waiting room. Inspecting the luggage of each passenger takes considerable time, since only a hand-held metal detector is used. After security, you go through the side gate to board a bus that will take you directly to the ferry. Passengers enter the ferry from the side through a gangway on the pier. Find your cabin and obtain bedding from the flight attendant. Now all the worries are behind us, there is very little time left before departure. It's time to go to the upper deck to watch the ferry depart and admire the panoramic views of the Vanino port.

About an hour after departure, passengers are invited via loudspeaker to receive free food with coupons in a cafe located on the upper deck. You can exercise your right to food stamps only for two hours. After this, the cafe offers hot meals with a choice of several options, confectionery, baked goods, hot and cold drinks for money. You can pour boiling water from special containers completely free of charge, which will certainly come in handy if you take instant noodles on the road. Cafe opening hours: from 9.00 to 22.00 (kitchen until 21.00) with breaks for sanitary hours. On the upper deck you can also use the shower for 220₽ (soap, shampoo and towel provided). The lack of Internet and mobile communications provides an excellent opportunity to meet new people with interesting travel companions. If the sky is cloudless at night, take advantage of the rare opportunity to admire the starry sky without city light. The flight attendants will wake you up in advance if the ferry arrives in Kholmsk at night or early in the morning. In Kholmsk, a bus will also be waiting for passengers at the pier, which will take them to the sea terminal, from where buses depart to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.


Other options

The Korsakov-Vladivostok service is regular and year-round, but exclusively for freight.

The most famous (and, needless to say, the only) alternative to the ferry is the crossing across the Nevelskoy Strait in the village of Lazarev, Khabarovsk Territory, which operates during the navigation period (usually from May to October). This crossing is purely unofficial. The width of the strait here is less than ten kilometers, so it can easily be crossed by boats and motor boats supplying the village of Pogibi on Sakhalin. You need to hitchhike to Lazarev from Komsomolsk-on-Amur, then look for a suitable boat (or motor boat) and cross. The main problem, however, is how to then get to the inhabited areas of Sakhalin. The village of Pogibi has regular connections with the mainland, and not with the island, so the road to Okha is impassable at times. Nevertheless, many travelers managed to get to Sakhalin (or leave the island) this way, covering the section to Okha (about 120 km) on foot, by bicycle, and even by hitchhiking.

Both ferry services transport cars. However, the cost of transportation obviously exceeds the cost of renting a car on Sakhalin. In Lazarev, of course, it is impossible to transport a car, but, according to eyewitnesses, it is possible to transport a bicycle or motorcycle.


By car

If you are traveling by car from the mainland, then the only acceptable option is to drive to Vanino along the P-454 road (see details in the similar section in the description of Vanino). The port station also serves as a railway station, and the main entrance of the port will be located not far from it.

The car traveler is strongly recommended to contact representatives of the SASCO company (in Russian - Sakhalin Shipping Company) in advance (10-15 days in advance), or submit a preliminary application for transportation of the car to the DalTransService agency via the Internet by e-mail, or contact with a representative of the Vanino port (if you are coming from the mainland) by phone 89147587449. If this is not done on time, then you will have the interesting option of waiting your turn for loading for a week. Of course, they may meet you halfway, but you shouldn’t count on it too much. Do not think that this is discrimination of your rights: all ferries of the Sakhalin series are designed exclusively for the transportation of railway cars and containers and are not at all suitable for the transportation of cars. Cars are purely secondary passing cargo, and heavy-duty trucks with perishable cargo have priority, and you are preparing to park across the rails...

The cost of transporting a passenger car at the beginning of 2017 is about 20 thousand rubles, payment is accepted by card.



The southern part of the island has a good (by the standards of the Far East) transport infrastructure, but in the north there are practically no roads or transport.


By plane

Sakhalin Airlines operates daily flights from Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk to Okha and 2-3 times a week to Shakhtersk. Tickets can be purchased on the airline's website.


By train

The main railway line of Sakhalin runs along the eastern coast from Korsakov to Nogliki. The line along the west coast is shorter: there is passenger service on the section from Kholmsk to Ilyinsk. In Ilyinsk, a bridge connecting two roads begins. The Kholmsk - Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk line is abandoned and partially dismantled or stolen.

Trains run daily on Sakhalin:
001E/002E Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk - Tymovsk - Nogliki: night branded train, reserved seat, compartment and SV cars
Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk - Tomari: evening/morning diesel train RA3
Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk - Poronaysk: evening/morning diesel train RA3

Travel time to Tymovsk is 10.5-15 hours, to Nogliki 13-15 hours.

Suburban service exists only in the suburbs of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk and Kholmsk. Commuter trains are practically useless for traveling between cities.

The Sakhalin Railway can confidently compete for the title of the slowest railway in Russia. However, there is a certain romance in the railways of Sakhalin. The railway tracks remain from Japanese times.

The current schedule of long-distance trains/purchase of tickets is on the website of the Russian Railways; the full schedule (together with commuter trains) is here. Information can be obtained by phone. +7 (4242) 71-21-34.


By bus

In the south of Sakhalin there is almost no suburban railway service, so buses and minibuses are active. From Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk you can go to almost any city in the southern part of the island. The main routes are to Korsakov, Kholmsk, Dolinsk (every 30-60 minutes). In the north, bus service reaches Shakhtersk and Poronaysk. Then terra incognita begins, where there are no long-distance bus routes, but buses connected to trains run from Tymovsk station to Aleksandrovsk-Sakhalinsky and from Nogliki to Okha. Current schedule here, information by phone. +7 (4242) 72-25-53.


By car

The road network basically follows the location of the railways: two highways run from south to north along the western and eastern shores, bridges exist in the south (Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk - Kholmsk) and north of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk (Ilyinsky - Arsentyevka). The western road ends just north of Shakhtersk, and the eastern one continues to the northern part of the island, to the cities of Aleksandrovsk-Sakhalinsky, Nogliki and Okha. Most roads are in poor condition and often have no asphalt surface: for example, the road to Okha is mostly dirt. For road trips off main roads, an SUV is required.

Distances from Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk:
Alexandrovsk-Sakhalinsky – 550 km
Korsakov – 31 km
Nogliki – 630 km
Okha – 860 km
Kholmsk – 81 km

Due to the poor quality of roads, car rental is not developed. Most companies offer rentals with a driver, and this really makes sense, since visiting almost all natural attractions will require an SUV, as well as the skills to drive over rough terrain and ford rivers. The best way to search for cars is through advertisements on the Internet.

Car rental, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, st. Lenina 553 (2nd floor). ☎ (4242) 62-16-21, 61-96-19. The only official rental car that provides cars without a driver. However, the area of use is limited to southern Sakhalin up to Poronaysk, and even a trip to Poronaysk will cost 1.5 times more than driving around Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk and its surroundings.


To hitchhike

Hitchhiking is common, although not very effective due to low traffic flow. The main difficulty is to wait for at least some car.


Sakhalin is most interesting for its natural attractions. The cities here are relatively young and unattractive, so amateurs must be content with ethnographic impressions.

Mount Vaida is the highest point of the mountain range in the middle part of the island. This small mountain, just under a kilometer high, is the site of intense karst activity, causing the formation of caves and unusual external fossils. The most interesting are the Vaidinskaya Cave with picturesque stalactites and stalagmites, as well as the Cave of Bear Tragedies, where the bones of bears and tools of ancient man were found. On the surface there are pretty alpine meadows and small mountain lakes. In the first half of the 20th century, Mount Vaida was the border between the Russian and Japanese parts of Sakhalin, and it was from here that the offensive of Soviet troops began in 1945. Earthen fortifications and numerous, often funny, memorials still remind of military events. The nearest settlement is the village of Izvestkovy, connected by road (but not by public transport) to the Smirnykh railway station. Entrance to the caves is free, but it is not recommended to explore them without the help of a local guide or an organized excursion. Excursions from Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk are organized by:
Mishka Tour company. ☎ +7 (4242) 46-17-70.
Cheremshansky waterfall is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Sakhalin. It is located on the right tributary of the Cheremshanka River, 26 km from the mouth. The height of the waterfall itself is 13 meters. You can get to it from the turnoff at 17 km of the Arsentieva - Ilyinsky highway. Or from the village of Cheremshanskoye. There is also a road through Tomari. The shortest route from the city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk will be about 175 km (of which 150 km are asphalt-soil and 25 km of forest road) and will require about 3.5-4 hours one way; It is advisable to use an SUV to complete this route!
The Kholmsk - Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk railway was built by the Japanese in the 20s of the 20th century and connected the eastern coast of the island with the western, crossing the Sakhalin Mountains. The difficult terrain required the construction of many tunnels and bridges. After the war, the road was actively used by the Soviet Union as a direct route from the ferry in Kholmsk to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, but in 1993 traffic was stopped due to the emergency condition of some sections. By now, the rails have been partially dismantled, but you can still walk along the entire route of the former road, see interesting engineering structures and simply admire nature. The full route (85 km) will take 2-3 days, but a shorter walk from Nikolaychuk station (suburban trains from Kholmsk) to the village of Chaplanovo (intersection with the highway) is also possible. Hiking along the abandoned railway requires caution due to the disrepair of the bridges, as well as minimal hiking equipment, including a flashlight for negotiating the tunnels.
Cape Krillon is the southernmost point of Sakhalin. You can get here from the village of Shebunino, where a minibus goes from Nevelsk. For the next 70-odd kilometers, the road mainly runs along the coast (right along the beach) and is only passable by an SUV. There will always be mountains on one side and the sea on the other. Interesting landscapes, the opportunity to see the local fauna, as well as Cape Crillon itself with a lighthouse, border outpost and weather station. The lighthouse appeared here at the end of the 19th century and is still in operation.
Lake Tunaicha is located 45 km from Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, the largest lake in Sakhalin. Tunaicha is popular among ornithologists and simply wildlife lovers. You can get to the lake by minibuses going to Svobodnaya or Okhotskoye, or by ordering transport from a travel agency.

Moneron Island is located southwest of Kholmsk. Despite its significant size (an area of about 30 km2), the island remained uninhabited for a long time and was only occasionally visited by biological expeditions, along with amateur ornithologists and divers. Moneron is interesting for its unique underwater life: due to the warm Tsushima Current, even subtropical mollusks live here. Visibility in the water often reaches 30-40 meters and allows diving. The above-water world is no less interesting: rocky shores, deep canyons, beautiful waterfalls and alpine meadows. Moneron and small adjacent islands are home to colonies of birds, and there are also rookeries for seals and fur seals. You can get to the island by helicopter or boat from Nevelsk (50 km south of Kholmsk). The territory of Moneron is a national park, but there is no independent tourist infrastructure yet - excursions are organized by Sakhalin travel agencies. Diving on the island is provided by the Sakhalin Diving Club.

Tyuleniy Island is a small rocky island in the Sea of Okhotsk, 12 km southwest of Cape Terpeniya. One of the largest seal rookeries and seabird nesting grounds. The territory of the island is a protected area, so you can only get here with a guided tour. Sole organizer of excursions:
Center for Promotion of Tourism Development. ☎ +7 (4242) 48-68-89.

The Zhdanko Ridge is a picturesque mountain range of volcanic origin north of Tomari and the village of Tikhaya. The length of the ridge is 13 km, and its length is only 1.5–2 km. The ridge was formed as a result of the solidification of molten lava coming to the surface of the earth. The area is especially beautiful in spring, when harsh rocks are interspersed with bright green vegetation. There are two to three day routes that run along the entire ridge. It is convenient to get there by the postal and luggage train Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk - Tymovsk, arriving at Tikhaya station around noon.


Things to do

Alpine skiing - Mountain Air resort in the suburbs of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk
Hiking in the Sakhalin Mountains allows you to see the unique nature of the island; travel agencies conduct organized hikes in the most interesting areas.
Scuba diving is developing on Moneron Island. In principle, there are many other places suitable for diving on Sakhalin and the surrounding islands, but the lack of infrastructure, along with the difficulties of the border regime, makes their use difficult.
Rafting is organized by travel agencies in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk on the surrounding rivers, mainly from the beginning of May to the end of June, when the water level is highest. The Bykovsky rapids on the Krasnoarmeyka River is one of the most difficult, and a simpler route runs along the Lyutoga River from the village of Pyatirechye to the village of Petropavlovskoye, located a few kilometers north of Aniva Bay.



Everyday Sakhalin food is no different from all-Russian food, and for special occasions in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk you can find dishes from almost any cuisine. Since the occupation of the southern part of the island by the Japanese, Korean cuisine products have been included in the diet. Salads made from fern, sea grapes, burdock, heh with pollock and other seafood are popular. They can be bought in any supermarket, but the best ones are still sold in the pavilion near the trading house. Grocery stores have a large selection of local sauerkraut Kimchi and imported freeze-dried products. In Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk there are many restaurants with Korean cuisine (Davno-Davno) and small cafes in the food courts of shopping centers (City Mall, Stolitsa). As for fish and seafood. Delicacies are sold in villages along the roads, but it is in such places, according to the observations of the Sakhalin residents themselves, that they offer products that are not the freshest, skillfully disguising them as freshly caught products, and, moreover, at high prices. It is better to buy in specialized stores in the city. The most common are crabs, smoked salmon and red caviar, which costs at least 1500-2000 rubles per kilogram, or 280 rubles for a 140-gram jar (2012). In the northern part of the island there are more traditional dishes prepared from local ingredients: dried (yukola) and frozen (stroganina) fish, seal meat, venison, bear meat, mushrooms and northern berries such as crowberries and blueberries. Korean and Japanese cuisine are common in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.

Local alcoholic drinks are represented by beer, which is brewed in many cities of Sakhalin. The main producer is the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk brewery Kolos, which produces more than a dozen varieties. Beer from Japanese producers is available for sale.


Precautionary measures

Sakhalin is a fairly safe region for travel, although the island's capital, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, is notorious for having the highest child crime rate in Russia. In general, if standard precautions are followed, there should be no problems from people. Local residents are for the most part friendly to travelers, although many at the same time have a sharply negative attitude towards central Russia and especially Moscow.

Natural hazards are numerous. Typhoons, prolonged snowfalls and simply sudden changes in temperature are common, and earthquakes occur regularly. In addition, wild animals pose a serious danger - primarily bears, which are found everywhere outside cities. The basic rule of behavior is to scare the bear with sound. Sudden movements or an attempt to escape can, on the contrary, provoke aggression. In most cases, bears do not engage in direct confrontation with humans, but for long hikes it is useful to have means of protection - a gun or a flare. Bears are attracted to food, which therefore needs to be stored in airtight containers or plastic bags.