Hamamasu-Gokibiru Coast Sea Kayaking

Posted on Aug 2, 2022
0

Posted on Aug 2, 2022

0 0
15km

Distance

1 day(s)

Time

4/5

Remoteness

2/5

Water clarity

7/10

Difficulty

Jun-Aug

Best season

With caves, coves, cliffs, and waterfalls, this is a beautiful Sea of Japan paddle north of Sapporo on the Mashike coast. Expect wide vistas and plenty of birdlife. The two ends of the route are campsites - one is a free, grassy, well-kept municipal campground, and the other is a friendly private campground right next to the water. Being downstream of the Ishikari River mouth, the water in the area is not crystal-clear like other parts of the Japan Sea coast, but if you visit on the right day, there is some incredible surfing to be had just south of Hamamasu at Bishabetsu.

We visited this route on Jul 2, 2022

Route Map

Need to know details

Location

This short sea kayaking daytrip route is located just south of Mashike on the Rumoi Coast of western Hokkaido, about 1.5hrs drive north of Sapporo City. Here, we describe paddling from the small town of Hamamasu south towards the tiny hamlet of Gokibiru, but naturally the route can be paddled in the opposite direction also.

Put-in Location: Google Maps

The small township of Hamamasu 浜益 is arguably home to one of Hokkaido’s nicest free municipal seaside campgrounds – Kawashimo Seaside Park 川下海浜公園. There’s good access to the beach from the massive parking areas at either end of the park. The beach is about a 200m walk from the car. The beach itself is somewhat protected by breakwater blocks just off the beach, so launching a kayak should be manageable in most conditions. If you’d prefer to shorten the trip by about 3km, there’s also the option of putting in at Bishibatsu Beach 毘砂別海浜, here. This is a popular surf beach, however, so paddlers may encounter considerable surf for launching.

Take-out Location: Google Maps

We opted to take out at the Gokibiru campground 濃昼キャンプ場 (open from early July till mid-September). There is direct access to the campground from the water. The beach is quite rocky but is usually sheltered from most swell directions. In line with Hokkaido bylaws, Gokibiru fishing port is off-limits to kayaks unless in an emergency or there is no other feasible option. If necessary, kayakers could also take out in the tiny hamlet of Okurige 送毛, here, just north of Gokibiru. Note that parking may be problematic in Okurige, however, as there are no public parking areas – if possible, ask a local where you can park and/or take out, in advance.

General notes

For many Sapporo-based weekend day-paddlers, the coast north of the city is generally shunned for the calmer (and clearer) waters of the Shakotan Peninsula. The Mashike coast is, however, a very attractive coast, with plenty to explore. This particular section feels far from the madding crowds, especially since National Highway 231 is either far inland from the coast, or far above the coast, above the cliffs. There are also some popular surf zones for those keen to hone their kayak surfing skills. This is definitely an area worth keeping an eye on the weather for.

  • Gokibiru Seaside Campground: This private campground is run by a somewhat eccentric chap who has mixed reviews on Google Maps (see them here). That said, we were quick to explain that we were happy to pay day-use fees in return for landing at the campground, and he was very welcoming. They even gave our group of four a free cup of shaved ice each for our efforts “paddling all the way from Hamamasu!” Bicycle parking fees overnight are 200yen per bike. Car parking is 2000yen overnight.
Route description

Put in at Hamamasu beach, and paddle the 3km or so south, past the Bishabetsu surf zone and on to the rocky coastal area proper. In about 2km from Bishabetsu beach is the sheltered Tarama Cove タラマ suitable for a break. The cove beach consists of large round rocks, but it should be an easy landing. Just around the corner of the cove is the first of a number of small waterfalls along the route. This one is tucked into the hillside. Blink and you’ll miss it.

About 1km south of the cove is the first of a few caves along the route. This one’s entrance is cathedral-like, and the cave itself doesn’t extend too deep into the cliff. There’s another small cave just past Washiiwa 鷲岩 too, a few hundred meters south. Just south of Aikappu Point 愛冠 is another small waterfall, visible from the water.

1.5km further south from Aikappu, 1km past Buimawashi Point ブイマワシ is the most impressive cave on the route. The entrance is narrow (about 3m wide), and the cave remains that way until its terminus about 40m into the rock. If the conditions are flat, paddle backwards into the cave – you can ‘beach’ a kayak on the steep stony beach at the end of the cave. Bring a headlamp, and explore another 15m or so deeper before the cave ends.

Another 300m along the coast from the cave is a stony beach suitable for an extended break, just before rounding the minor point to the small hamlet of Okurige 送毛. In the worst case, if the conditions are getting unmanageable, Okurige can be a good place to escape the water – there are concrete ramps to pull up on if necessary. Note however that there’s no public transport to Okurige, nor are there any taxi companies in the wider area. You’d be hitching back to your car.

From Okurige it’s another 2km to the beautiful Gokibiru Falls 濃昼の滝 (video here). This is a popular winter ice-climbing spot (photos and video here). In summer, access is difficult on foot, so you’ll likely have the place to yourself. Clamber up part way for a fresh-water shower.

From Gokibiru Falls it’s another 2km to Gokibiru Seaside Campground. If you make it clear that you’re happy to pay the day-entry fee (200yen per person), then the campground staff will be more than happy to let you land there (they’re a quirky bunch…). They allowed us to park two bicycles at the campground overnight for 200yen per bike – we dropped them off the day before, so we could cycle back to Hamamasu to get our car.

Route Timing
Trip time: 5hrs 0min

There are a number of coves, caves, and waterfalls to explore along this route, so we recommend allowing a solid 5-6 hours of very leisurely paddling for this route.

Transport

Public transport:

Public transport is patchy for this route. Gokibiru bus stop 濃昼バス停 (location) and Hamamasu bus stop 浜益バス停 (location) are accessible by a once-daily bus from/to Sapporo, run by Engan Bus 沿岸バス, but the bus only runs on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  It also runs on some major public holidays (Golden Week, Obon, New Year break). The bus from Sapporo leaves at 4:10pm, and the return bus leaves Hamamasu at 8:30am. See the timetable and details (in Japanese) here. Google Maps also has up-to-date timetable information. If I were to take public transport to paddle this route with a folding kayak, I’d work in with the bus timetable by planning to camp a couple of nights at the very friendly Gokibiru Campground (650m walk from bus stop) or at the large, immaculately kept municipal (free) campground at Hamamasu (1.7km south of bus stop).

By car: 

There is plenty of free parking in Hamamasu, at the northern and southern ends of the Kawashimo Seaside Campground 川下海浜キャンプ場 here. The beach is just a minute walk away from the parking area. At the Gokibiru end of the route, there’s very little public parking close to the water’s edge. The closest public parking is the Gokibiru Parking Area 濃昼パーキングエリア, about 650m up the hill from the coast, here. Note also that the only access to the water at Gokibiru is from the private (but very friendly) Gokibiru campground 濃昼海浜キャンプ場. They charge a 200yen per person entry fee (day parking for a car is 1000yen, overnight parking is 2000yen).

Physical maps

ELECTRONIC CHARTS
Japanese-language ENCs are available on the Japanese-language new pec smart smartphone app (Android | iPhone). 960yen per month for a subscription.

PRINTED CHARTS

The JHA/Japan Coast Guard 1:200,000 nautical chart for this area is Mashike Ko to Iwanai Ko (W28 – buy online). Another option is the S-Guide for Otaru (DH811W-06), available as PDF download (buy online here). The scale is spotty though, with this section of coast only available in 1:400,000 scale. A printed 1:50,000 scale bathymetric chart (Ofuyu Misaki; 6323-2) is available here.

Official Topo Map: Kashiwagi (柏木) – map no. NK-54-13-11-2
Official Topo Map 2: Gokibiru (濃昼) – map no. NK-54-13-12-1

NOTE: The official 1/25000 topo map(s) above can be purchased for 350yen from Kinokuniya bookstore next to Sapporo Station or online (in Japanese).

route safety

The coast between Hamamasu and Okurige 送毛 (about 6km) is entirely inaccessible by foot. In many places, it’s just sheer cliff. Paddlers need to be self-sufficient, and confident in their paddling abilities should conditions get heavy.

Weather forecast

Windy.com weather forecast for Hamamasu-Gokibiru Coast

Tide
Tide information for Hamamasu

CampSites

Hamamasu Seaside Campground (浜益海浜キャンプ場)

The Hamamasu Seaside Campground 浜益海浜キャンプ場 is a relatively immaculate, free municipal campground in the small town of Hamamasu on the Rumoi coast, about 1.5hrs drive north of Sapporo City. It has beautifully kept and comfortable grass to pitch tents on, as well as covered kitchen areas. It’s about 100m walk from the campground to the beach. There’s a Seicomart convenience store across the road, as well as a number of restaurants nearby.

Location: 43.58443 N / 141.38667 E | Open: Jul-Sep
Closest Onsen: Hamamasu Onsen (浜益温泉) | 500yen | 4.5km from campground
Gokibiru Seaside Campground (濃昼海浜キャンプ場)

Gokibiru Seaside Campground 濃昼海浜キャンプ場 is a somewhat quirky private campground in the tiny hamlet of Gokibiru on the Rumoi Coast of western Hokkaido. Right on the waterfront, it’s a perfect sheltered spot for practising SUPing and kayaking. There’s very little shade around the mainly-gravel camping area, so make sure you bring plenty of tarps to shelter from the sun. If only using the campground to use the beach, there is an entry fee of 200yen per person (even if accessing from the sea). In addition to the fees below, car parking costs 1000yen for day time use, 2000yen for overnight parking.

Location: 43.47776 N / 141.39199 E | 600 yen per tent | 300 yen per person | Open: Jul-Sep | Staff hours: 7:00am till 6:00pm.
Closest Onsen: None
Onsen nearby

It’s 4km inland from Hamamasu beach, but the Hamamasu Onsen 浜益温泉 (location, 500yen) is a wonderful onsen facility with nice outdoor baths. Very highly recommended. As of July 2022, the attached restaurant is still closed due to the pandemic.

Extra Resources
No extra English resources that we know of. If you know of any, please let us know in the comments.

Guide Options

There are a number of sea kayak operators in the general Hokkaido southwest area that may be able to arrange an English-speaking guide to accompany you on this route. Try Ocean Days (based in Shakotan/Lake Shikotsu), Kamuichep (Shakotan), or NAC in Niseko.

Show Full Route Notes Close Route Notes

Route Trip Notes

Windy.com was forecasting stiff winds for almost every coastal area in the vicinity of Sapporo City…except for this one section of coast from Isahikari heading north to Mashike, on the Japan Sea coast. A glorious oasis of calm, no doubt due to the sheltering effect of the Mashike Range to the east. We’d not heard anything about this particular section of coast south of Hamamasu in relation to sea kayaking, and it wasn’t in the old Japanese guidebook we have on hand. But Google Satellite was suggesting some beautiful, remote scenery, so we decided to give it a go.

The weather was looking the most settled for the Saturday, particularly in the early morning. Since the sun comes up at 3:30am in Hokkaido in summer, we all took a deep breath and agreed on a 3am wake-up, to be on the water at 5am. To make things less arduous, we all camped at the free Hamamasu campground on Friday night.

We were up at 3am on Saturday morning, and quickly broke camp. We’d already left a bicycle at the take out the previous day, so all we had to do was get the kayaks ready to go. We were on the water by 6am.

It was a somewhat subdued morning, with shadows still long on the water.

The initial destination for the day was a small cove I’d spied on the Google Satellite images earlier in the week. It was a well-earned break after about an hour of paddling.

Ahead of us was about 4km of paddling along an impenetrable coast of cliffs and bluffs. What Google Satellite was not able to tell me was the existence of a beautifully deep cave, about 1.5km south of the cove.

It was too narrow to turn a sea kayak around in, so we each backed in, keeping an eye on the swell as we paddled backwards into the dingy murk of the cave. At the terminus of the cave was a steep, rocky beach. Just wide enough for four kayaks.

A common theme in this route was the murkiness of the water. We don’t have any definitive reason for the murky, cloudy water in the area, but I mused that it might be because this area is downstream from the Ishikari River mouth. The Ishikari is Hokkaido’s longest river. It ends its journey from the Daisetsuzan Range to the Ishikari coast after picking up all sorts of sediment – the Ishikari river mouth is not exactly pristine (see our canoeing route ghide here).

Despite the murkiness of the water, however, the coast along this route continued to amaze us.

Arguably, the highlight of the trip came in the form of the Gokibiru Falls. We didn’t really know what to expect from this waterfall marked on Google Maps. On a hot day like today, however, it was a god-send. A perfect place to cool off and wash the salt of our clothes.

On the previous day, we told the Gokibiru Campground caretakers that we’d likely be arriving at the campground at around 10am. By the time we’d made our very leisurely way to the end of our route for the day, however, it was past noon. They seemed very happy to see us arrive.

“It’s a long way from Hamamasu,” they said concerningly. “We though you’d got lost or sunk!”

We’d left two bikes at the takeout – Ben’s bike and my bike. We’d locked the bikes to railing.

Upon arrival at the campground, however, I realized I’d left the bicycle lock key in the car at the put in. Ben’s bike was very well locked to the railing, with the lock going through a wheel and the rear triangle. My folding bike wasn’t as well locked up though, and we were able to extract the bike by half folding the bike.

Thus it transpired that I would cycle back to Hamamasu on my own, rather than with Ben’s company.

In the meantime, Ben, Haidee, and Saoka did some kayak drills in the sheltered little cove in front of the campground. We were all reunited about 1.5hrs later.

Comments | Queries | Reports

Done this route to Hamamasu-Gokibiru Coast, or other waterways nearby? Thinking of doing it? Please post any feedback, reports, or queries here. Thanks!

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Hamamasu-Gokibiru Coast Sea Kayaking Difficulty Rating

Category

Grade

Points

Strenuousness

Vertical Gain

D

25

Time ascending

D

0

Technicality

Altitude

D

0

Hazards

D

Navigation

D

Totals

25/100

GRADES range from A (very difficult) to D (easy). Hazards include exposure to avalanche and fall risk. More details here. Rating rubric adapted from Hokkaido Yukiyama Guidebook 北海道雪山ガイド.