Hokkaido’s winters and snow sports are world-famous. Thrill-seekers from all over the globe come here between December and March to ski, snowboard, and take part in snow activities in some of the BEST conditions (and relax in a hot spring at the end of it all).
But what about the rest of the year?
If you’re an extreme sports lover, then what awaits you in Hokkaido between April and November?
Well, I have good, GOOD news!
Hokkaido is a total HIDDEN-GEM when it comes to outdoor activities – from the calm, to moderate to downright crazy. It’s also still relatively unknown and can take a bit of searching out – but this just makes it even more worth the effort.
From surfing almost empty beaches, to canyon jumping surrounded by beautiful nature – from white-water rafting to paragliding – you can find it here.
And if you’re on the hunt for where to start – here are a few places to check out!
Some of these places have English support, and some don’t. If you are booking your transport with Social Bus, we’re happy to support you to book activities too as our team is bilingual! ????
Not the first extreme sport that comes to mind when you think of Japan, right? Or you imagine small, crowded spots towards Tokyo and the south?
Well, think again in Hokkaido. Awesome spots. Off-shore waves. Empty beaches. AND polite local surfers.
Now, I’m a pretty terrible surfer, but I LOVE the ocean – and Hokkaido’s is beautiful. The best waves here are to be found from summer through the November time (typhoon season), but I have friends who get sessions in throughout the winter too.
For general surf advice, you can check out the Surfing in Japan Guide for Hokkaido. Or if you’re looking for a local Surf School, I recommend Taire Surf, who are based in Sapporo. You can contact them at 011-768-7588.
Hokkaido Break Map
A little more expected from an island with the wide-open spaces that Hokkaido boasts, there are plenty of awesome spots to be found when thinking about climbing, abseiling or even getting-off-the-beaten-track-hiking.
There are all kinds of ability-level spots, and you can check out some general guidance at The Mountain Project. You can also find Mountain Guided (JMGA) tours for all kinds of levels HERE. The link is for a tour to Akaiwa Otaru which always gets recommended to me by climbing friends!
There are a whole bunch of amazing spots for rafting/kayaking/paddle-boarding/you-name-it.
I recommend white-water rafting in Spring actually, if you want a more exciting ride, as that’s when the rapids are going to be at their fastest. But kayaking is perfect for a summer day.
A few places to check out are:
Sea Kayaking in Shiretoko with the Outdoor Guide Centre.
Lake Kayaking at Lake Shikotsu with Ootaki Outdoor Adventures.
Rafting in Mukawa River with Hokkaido Outdoor Adventures.
Rafting in Niseko with Niseko Adventure Centre.
4. Bridge Jumping/Canyon Swinging
Now, this is something I haven’t tried but SUPER want to!
Bridge jumping is meant to be pretty close to bungee jumping, but without the bounce.
If anyone wants to come bridge-swinging over the Saru River with me, then let’s go! Haha. Hokkaido Outdoor Adventures are highly recommended.
The same adventure company also run canyoning, where you can leap off boulders and explore the local river – which also sounds awesome to me. You can check option out HERE.
The views in Hokkaido are truly spectacular, and paragliding is one of the best ways to take it all in.
There’s a local paragliding school to the north of Sapporo in Bibai which offers a variety of days training and experience, SunnySide Paragliding School. Check them out!
In my only experience of quadbiking, I managed to fall off the quadbike forwards and get run-over with my own vehicle… (I was fine, but I never-again tried! 😉 HOWEVER, my husband and my Dad love quadbiking, so this might be one to try on my parent’s next summer visit!
Snow Mobile Land Sapporo offers quadbiking experiences when there’s no snow and is well worth checking out!
Lake Shikotsu has a lot going on all-year round, but scuba-diving is particularly famous here because of the stunningly-clear water and visibility.
You can book with Ocean Days and have an awesome experience on your Hokkaido adventure.
8. Mountain Boarding
Who doesn’t love mountain boarding? And Hokkaido has some awesome mountains to try! Niseko even has a Mountain Boarding School that you can check out for lessons, introductions and all the safety equipment.
9. Wakeboarding/Water Skiing
I know, I know – I ALWAYS mention Lake Toya for one reason or another, because I super love the area. BUT, I super, super recommend wakeboarding and/or water skiing if you are wanting to visit in the summer. This local company also run jet skiing, so you can enjoy a full day on the water, and then fireworks and hot springs in the evening.
Doesn’t that sound like PERFECTION?
Check out Autoswap.
Okay, I’m a longboarder, not a skateboarder – but if the weather turns for the worst and you’re looking for a local spot to skate inside, I recommend Crass Sports.
They have a super-cute, mellow, mini-ramp. They also have giant trampolining – so, you know? Just keep it in mind if you are looking for an indoor Sapporo activity.
Last, but not least, this wouldn’t be a true extreme-sports list if it didn’t include at least one skydiving recommendation.
I have to confess, this is the only one on this list that I haven’t tried and actually can’t imagine ever trying! Something about the free-fall part just petrifies me. HOWEVER, I can recommend Sky Dive Hokkaido for those of you crazy-enough to want to add this to your itinerary.
We would LOVE to support your transport this summer in a truly epic adventure.
So, get in touch if we can help you and your group with making plans. As I said, if you need any support with bookings or translations – we’re also happy to support you!
You can email us HERE.