About 3km south of the city center, this waterfront district (ガリヤゾーン) has an ice breaker pier, a beach (mid Jul-mid Aug) and a few sights with a 515m-long breakwater promenade.
Points of interest in Monbetsu Gakiya Zone
From Monbetsu bus terminal, take the bus for Engaru (遠軽) and get off at the Okhotsk Tower-iriguchi (オホーツクタワー入口: 9 daily; 7min). From where, it is a few minutes’ walk to the waterfront.
In winter (late Jan-late Feb), the shuttle bus Gariya-go (ガリヤ号: flat ¥200) runs between Monbetsu bus terminal and the Sea Ice Museum, stopping at the hotels and the Garinko-go Station.
Okhotsk Sea Ice Museum of Hokkaido
(北海道立オホーツク流氷科学センター) The world’s only scientific sea ice museum has displays on lumps of ryuhyo (drift ice) and frozen local fishes in the -20C ‘cold experience room’. It also has numerous exhibits of sea ice, models and clione (sea slugs). A newly renovated astrovision shows a sea ice film with English subtitles.
The museum houses the michi-no-eki (roadside station) Okhotsk Monbetsu with a cafeteria.
More info giza-ryuhyo.com
Drift Icebreaker Garinko-go
(ガリンコ号) The main reason to visit Monbetsu in winter is to take the drift icebreaker Garinko-go into the Sea of Okhotsk. From 10 January to late March, one-hour cruises depart five times a day from the Gariya Zone at the south side of Monbetsu Port. Sunrise (6am) and sunset (4.10pm) cruises are available in February. You need to make reservations by the day before.
From May to October, the Garinko-go is transformed into a cruise ship that depart at 11.30am every day (30min). Check the schedule on the web before you go.
More info www.garinko.com
(オホーツクタワー) Built at the tip of the breakwater promenade, this offshore tower has an underground observation windows showcasing life under the sea, with live fish in tanks. You will be able to see drift ice in winter. The Okhotsk Theater (¥300) offers a 360 degrees 3D short playing.
More info www.o-tower.jp
Okhotsk Tokkari Center Goma-chan Land
(オホーツクとっかりセンターゴマちゃんランド) The Goma-chan Land runs a protective facility of local seals (tokkari in Ainu). Feeding times at the seal pond are five time in a day.
Adjoining the Goma-chan Land, visitors can hand-feed or training experiences at the seal pond of the Azarashi Sea Paradise (アザラシシーパラダイス). Check the website for feeding times.
(カニの爪) This 12m-high humorous object (called kani-no-tsume in Japanese) staring up on the beach near the Sea Ice Museum. It is a popular spot for photographing to tourists