By the time we’d arrived at the campground on Teuri Island, we’d already seen most of what there was to see on these two little islands off the coast of Hokkaido. Our original plan was to leave Teuri Island the very next day, but the remote vibe and island life got the better of us. We decided to stay one extra night and make sure we make the most of our time there.
We got away from the campground in Tomamae early so that we could catch the first ferry to Yagishiri Island of the day at 8am. We’d then spend some time cycling around Yagishiri Island before getting the 12:25pm ferry to Teuri Island. This stretch of coast between Tomamae and Haboro is relatively desolate and non-descript. But the locals know how to brighten things up.
We knew there’d be limited supplies on the island, so we stocked up on essentials at the Haboro Seicomart convenience store before boarding the ferry. To save on time, we opted to take the fast boat, so we packed our folding bikes into their bike bags and carried them on as normal luggage (see the route guide here for ferry information).
First stop was Yagishiri Island. Our mission on Yagishiri Island was to cycle through the interior of the island, through the stands of old Japanese yew and on to the western end of the island. This would take us across wide treeless sheep pastures, with massive views across the straight to Teuri Island less than 4km away. At the southeastern end of Yagishiri Island is a sheep farm. Most incongruous indeed.
We had a picnic lunch under a soon-to-blossom cherry blossom tree, and then caught the 12:25pm ferry across to Teuri Island. Conveniently, the main birding information center is located at the campground, so we managed to get the inside info on what do see and do on the island once we had set up the tent. While we’d originally intended to only stay one night on the island, the birding options were so plentiful, that we quickly changed the plans to stay an extra night.
We booked ourselves onto a dusk Rhinoceros auklet tour and also booked in for a morning boat tour the next day. We’re not usually ones to go on organized tours, on a bike trip, but when else would be back way out here on the islands? May as well make the most of it.
If there was one thing that was lacking on the island, it was an onsen hotspring. With hotsprings as ubiquitous as they are on a cycle tour in Japan (particularly in Hokkaido), it is always somewhat of a shock when one doesn’t get one’s hot water soak at the end of a day in the saddle. #japancycletouringproblems. The campground did, however, have some new showers. They’d been rustically built from rough-sawn timber from the island, cut by hand and drawn out of the forest by horse. With no treatment whatsoever, and mould already forming on the shower walls, I did wonder how much longer they’d last. The shower block came replete with a sauna (for locals’ use only, I was told).
That night we were treated to the curious phenomenon of tens of thousands of clumsy sea birds flying back onto land after a day at sea. They would whizz overhead, seemingly with very little control over where they were going. We were in a tour group of a about 15 people. Our guide reminded us constantly, “if you see a bird flying towards you, duck out of the way! They’re not very good at avoiding people!” No one in our group got hit, but there were a few close calls.
TOP TIP: Our tour was all in Japanese, so a non-Japanese speaker is unlikely to get good value for money (the tour was XXXXyen). That said, if you cycle down to the end of the island (here) at around dusk, you may find that there’s a tour group there with LED panel lights lighting up the ground. They’re officially not allowed to have the lights going past about 30 minutes past sundown, but if you’re there when they’re there, you’ll get all the benefits of the tour without the fee.