Utoro Onsen (ウトロ温泉) is a small but lively port town about an hour by bus from Shari and an excellent base for exploring the peninsula for all travelers. In winter, you might be able to see ryuhyo (drift ice).
Points of interests in Utoro Onsen
Utoro Onsen terminal (ウトロ温泉ターミナル: tickets 8am-4.30pm late Apr-Oct) is the main point of entry for tourists coming by bus.
The overnight bus Eagle Liner (イーグルライナー) departs from Chuo Bus Sapporo Terminal (at 11.15pm) to Utoro Onsen and stopping at the major hotels (7hrs 15min).
Shari Bus (sharibus.co.jp) operates regular buses from Shari bus terminal (in front of JR Shiretoko-Shari Station) to Utoro Onsen (4-6 daily; 50min), stopping at Oshin-koshin-no-taki (オシンコシンの滝: 38min) and the Utoro Michi-no-eki (ウトロ道の駅: 47min). Some buses continue Shiretoko Goko (知床五湖: late Apr-late Oct) or the Shiretoko Nature Center (知床自然センター: Nov-late Apr).
During the high-seasons (mid Jun-early Oct & late Jan-mid Mar), Shari Bus also operates Shiretoko Airport Liner (知床エアポートライナー) to Utoro Onsen from Memanbetsu Airport (3 daily; 2hrs) via JR Abashiri Station (1hr 40min) and Shari bus terminal (50min).
From mid June to early October, both Akan and Shari buses operate between Utoro Onsen and Rausu (4 daily; 50min), stopping at the Shiretoko Nature Center, Shiretoko-toge, Rausu-ko-iriguchi and Rausu Onsen.
Shiretoko World Natural Heritage Center
(知床世界遺産センター) Next door to the michi-no-eki in Utoro, this center has displays highlight the nature, flora and fauna of Shiretoko. Check out the latest trail conditions and brochures. More info shiretoko-whc.jp/whc
(オロンコ岩) The large rock (60m) of Oronko-iwa close to the fishing port give good views of the ocean and the Shiretoko Mountains. The 170 steps to the top is closed in winter.
(夕陽台の湯) Walk uphill from the police box near Utoro bus terminal, you will find the town’s only public onsen surrounded by trees. It is tiny but you can see the ocean from an open-air bath. There are also washing machines. Note: it is closed between November and May.
(夕陽台) In the corner of Shiretoko Yaei-jo campsite, Yuhidai is a good place to watch the sunset over the Sea of Okhotsk. You might be able to see ryuhyo (drift ice) from here in winter.