ESAN The Kameda Peninsula juts into the Pacific Ocean on the east coast of Hakodate. The area is designated as Esan Prefectural Natural Park that makes a worth-visiting another day trip from Hakodate by bus. The sacred mountain E-san is the highlight of the peninsula.
Location 45km east of Hakodate
Highlights E-san, Esan Kaihin Park, Esan Onsen, Esan-misaki, Mizunashi Kaihin Onsen
Climbing Season late April to late October
Tourist Information Michi-no-eki Natowa-Esan (道の駅なとわ・えさん): See below
01 SEASIDE PARK & ROADSIDE STATION
Esan Kaihin Park
恵山海浜公園 / Michi-no-eki 9am-6pm, to 5pm Oct-Mar / Restaurant 11am-3pm Mid Apr-Oct / Campsite check-in by 5.45pm (from ¥300 per tent) / Wi-Fi / www.natowaesan.com
Curved sandy beach overlooking the Diamond Head-shaped volcano E-san, this coastal park (kaihin koen) is something like ‘Hokkaido’s Hawaii’. Strong currents prohibit swimming, but it is a good spot to surfing and camping (May-Sep). It has a shop, seasonal restaurant and showers inside the Michi-no-eki Natowa Esan. Get off the bus at the Natowa-Esan-mae (なとわ・えさん前).
恵山 / Misaki-cho / 6am-6pm late Apr-Oct
Return hike from E-san Tozanguchi bus stop on the coastline allow four to five hours. A 2.5km-long paved winding steep road (open 6am-6pm late Apr-Oct) and Kogen Trail leads to Kako-bara Car Park (火口原駐車場) with stunning mountain views.
From the car park, it is an hour scenic hike to the top. You can climb down to the Hotel Cape on Esan-misaki or Central Todohokke along the Hachiman-gawa from E-san.
Esan Onsen Ryokan
恵山温泉旅館 / 117-150 Kashiwano-cho / Day bathing 6am-8pm May-Dec / ¥300 / www.n43.net/esan
After a day of hike, this ageing ryokan beside Esan Tsutsuji Park offers a tiny but 100% natural onsen for nonguests. Accommodation is available from ¥4000 per person.
04 SCENIC CAPE
恵山岬 / Esanmisaki-cho / www.todohokke.jp
On the easternmost of the Kameda Peninsula, Esan-misaki is the prettiest cape of Southern Hokkaido, framed by a pleasant lawn park. It has a photogenic white lighthouse.
From Todohokke Shisho-mae (椴法華支所前) bus stop, it is about a 4.5km (one-hour) walk to the cape along the coastal Prefectural Road 231. Don’t go to Esan-Misaki (恵山御崎) bus stop (there is no road to the cape) from Hakodate. Having your wheel is better.
Mizunashi Kaihin Onsen
水無海浜温泉 / Esanmisaki-cho / 24hrs / FREE / www.city.hakodate.hokkaido.jp/docs/2014041800107/
About 600m down from Esan-misaki, this mixed-gender rock onsen pool by the sea can be bathing at low tide (three times a day). Check out time schedule for bathing on the web before you go. Kaihin Onsen has changing facilities and you will need to wear swim or bathing suit, especially busy seasons.
Choshi Surf Beach
銚子サーフビーチ / 31 Choshi / 24hrs / FREE
One of Hokkaido’s best surf spots, Choshi has a scenic stretch of sand and consistent waves with perfect mountain views. Opposite the beach, you will find the pretty cafe Surf Side (11am-3pm Tue-Sun). The surf beach is about 1.5km north of Todohokke Shisho-mae (椴法華支所前) bus stop. For Choshi, you can get here by bus from Hakodate.