Shiretoko means “end of the earth” in Ainu language which was used by indigenous people of Hokkaido. A lot of nature has been preserved here, and it was registered as the Natural World Heritage Site because of the interaction of marine and terrestrial ecosystems. For example, seasonal floating ice with minerals and other nutrients grows marine life, salmon returning to the river from the sea grow land animals, and they turn to clay to grow rich forests. Let’s enjoy Mother Nature in Shiretoko such as mountain range, lakes in the forest, unique waterfalls, hot springs and wild animals.
I would like you to enjoy both land and sea of Shiretoko. It must be a great experience for you to join the local tours such as cruising and hiking, where you can learn the detail of Shiretoko from the guide.
Sightseeing Boat Cruise
There are some sightseeing boat cruises operated along the western coast of Shiretoko Peninsula from mid-April to mid-November. There are some courses, but you should choose Cape Shiretoko one among them, which shows you not only unique waterfalls and strangely shaped rocks of Shiretoko Peninsula but also wildlife such as brown bears, whales and dolphins. My recommendation is Shiretoko Cape Course operated by Goziraiwa Sightseeing, because the captain loves the nature of Shiretoko and is willing to satisfy our wishes. During the cruise he took us an unknown spot to see the rainbow-colored waterfall and found many wildlife so that we could enjoy fully.
Hiking around Shiretoko Goko Lakes
There are five lakes surrounded by native forest in Shiretoko Goko Lakes. Wooden walkways are laid out for all visitors to enjoy hiking easily, and Shiretoko mountain range reflected on the lakes is so beautiful on a clear day. You can walk around to enjoy such beautiful scenery by yourself, but you should take account of participating in the guided tour there to learn the detail of Mother Nature in Shiretoko. Since the area is famous for frequent appearances of brown bear, you have to check the latest information there.
Eight Views of Shiretoko
Oshinkoshin Waterfall, Oronkoiwa Rock, Yuuhidai (Sunset) Point, Cape Puyuni, Frepe Waterfall, Shiretoko Pass, Kamuiwakka Hot Falls as well as Shiretoko Goko Lakes are called the eight views of Shiretoko. Especially I would like to recommend Kamuiwakka Hot Falls. Hot spring water flows into the hot falls, and it feels good to climb in the warm-water river with bare feet (It is very slippery so please watch your step). During your trip to these scenery you may see wildlife such as deer and foxes.
Driving on Shiretoko Cross Road
Most of the tourist spots is in Utoro, the town on the western side of Shiretoko Peninsula. If you have time, I would like you to drive to Rausu on the eastern side via Shiretoko Pass. The road connecting Utoro and Rausu is called Shiretoko Cross Road, where you can enjoy the beautiful landscapes and outdoor hot spring “Kumanoyu“.
It is a really natural hot spring surrounded by the forest, and I was so relaxed with local residents and tourists staying at the campsite nearby. It is free of charge, but please keep in mind that it is cleaned and maintained by volunteers every morning. There is Rausu Visitor Center nearby, where you can see a geyser.
It seems that there are also some sightseeing cruise tours departing from Rausu. In addition, you can also enjoy the panoramic view of Kunashiri Island from Rausu Kunashiri observation tower.
This page shows you the detail of how to get to Shiretoko. Taking the transportation to get around Shiretoko into consideration, I think it is the best way for you to rent a car at Memanbetsu Airport.
Let me introduce my travel route in 2015 for your reference. I stayed at the campsite “Abashiri Tent Land“, and visited not only Shiretoko but also Abashiri and Ura-Mashu area. I needed 2 days to get around Utoro and Rausu in Shiretoko.
I think you should make your travel plan which includes enough time to spend in Shiretoko so that you can enjoy the great scenery on clear days. There are many accommodations in Shiretoko and Abashiri, you will be able to find your favorite one among them.
|1||Okhotsk Line -> Abashiri (car)||Lake Saroma||Abashiri|
|2||around Shiretoko (car)||Kamuiwakka Hot Falls
Shiretoko Goko Lakes
Sightseeing Boat Cruise
|3||around Abashiri (car): rainy||Okhotsk Ryu-hyo Museum
Abashiri Prison Museum
|4||around Ura-Mashu (car)||Sakura Falls
|5||around Abashiri and Shiretoko (car)||Koshimizu Primeval Flower Gardern
Kumanoyu Hot Spring
Rausu Kunashiri Observation Tower
|6||Abashiri -> Next (car)|