From late April to late October, sightseeing boat cruises are operated along the rugged western coast of the Shiretoko Peninsula. Tours depart from Utoro and travel either halfway or the full way up to Cape Shiretoko (Shiretoko Misaki) at the tip of the peninsula. It is the easiest way to view the peninsula's dramatic coastline with its tall cliffs and waterfalls, otherwise inaccessible to the regular tourist.

Another highlight of the cruises is the variety of wildlife that can be seen from the boats, especially brown bears which are often spotted on the rocky beaches with their cubs. Deer and foxes may also be seen along the shore, while sea animals such as dolphins, whales, sea lions and different types of sea birds might be seen from the boats.

Multiple companies offer cruises with differently sized boats. The large Aurora ships offer open observation decks in addition to indoor seating and snack bars. Long cruises to the tip of the peninsula (3 hour 45 minutes, 6800 yen, June to September) and shorter cruises as far as the Kamuiwakka Falls and Mount Io (90 minute, 3300 yen, late April to late October) are offered. During the winter months the Aurora ships operate drift ice cruises from Abashiri.

A few other companies operate cruises on smaller boats which are able to travel closer to the shore. They typically offer three routes: long cruises to the tip of the peninsula (3 hours, 8800 yen, June to September), bear watching cruises (2 hours, 6000 yen, June to October) and short cruises to the Kamuiwakka Falls and Mount Io (1 hour, 3500 yen, late April to October). Some companies also provide chartered cruises.

Getting there and around

Sightseeing boat tours depart from Utoro. The pier is located behind Oronko Rock, the huge rock next to the town center.

How to get to and around Shiretoko National Park