Aidomari to Moiresu Sea Kayaking (Shiretoko Peninsula)

| Sir-etok

Posted on Apr 26, 2023

Posted on Apr 26, 2023

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1 day(s)





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Aidomari settlement 相泊, on the Rausu 羅臼 side of Shiretoko Peninsula, is a remote outpost only 20km southwest of the wild and remote Cape Shiretoko 知床岬. This sea kayaking day trip (20km return) takes paddlers from this end-of-the-road outpost, along the remote southeastern coast of the peninsula, accessible only by foot or sea, to the remote Moiresu Bay, about 10km shy of the cape. Expect to be sharing this coastline with hardened kelp harvesters, foxes, and the occasional brown bear. What this side of the peninsula lacks in dramatic cliffs, it makes up for in its raw wind-swept beauty. There are a number of locations along the way suitable for a rough camp.

We visited this route on Aug 13, 2022

The crew: Haidee and Saoka


Route Map

Need to know details


This sea kayaking daytrip follows the southeastern coast of the Shiretoko Peninsula from the remote settlement of Aidomari, on the Rausu side of the peninsula, in far eastern Hokkaido. The route starts from the end of the publically accessible Route 87 road.

Put-in Location: Google Maps

Put in on the stony beach just north of the Aidomari fishing port. There’s a large gravel parking area just across the bridge. This is the end of the road for the public. Beyond this there’s another 1km or so of rough 4WD track for local fishery personnel to access fishing huts. As per Hokkaido bylaw, it’s not permitted for recreational vessels (including sea kayaks) to put in/take out in fishing ports, except in an emergency.

Take-out Location: Google Maps

The take out is the same as the put in.

General notes

There’s only two feasible sea kayak daytrips on the Shiretoko Peninsula if you’re intent on heading towards the Shiretoko Cape. One is the Utoro Side (see that route here), and the other is this one. There’s nowhere closer to the cape that paddlers can put in. Daytrips to the cape and back are not really feasible for most paddlers – it’s over 20km one-way from the closest put-in, which happens to be this Aidomari put in described on this post. Hence, day paddlers will usually be happy with a leisurely 10km paddle towards the cape, and then paddle the 10km back the way they came, for a solid 20km day trip.

This Rausu side of the peninsula is home to vast konbu (kelp) forests. The local fishers have tended to these forests, harvesting kelp here for generations. As such, you’ll see fishing huts dotted along the coast, and you’ll come across kelp harvesters throughout the paddling season. It’s a ruggedly beautiful backdrop for a back-breaking existence for these hardy folk.

This Rausu side of the peninsula is also much less developed than the gaudily developed and touristic Utoro side. Keep respectful of the kelp harvesters’ right to work in the area – say hello if you meet them, and always be friendly and cheerful if you need to use any boat ramps in an emergency (otherwise, avoid approaching fisheries-related facilities including huts).

Route description

Start from the stony beach just north of the Aidomari fishing port, and paddle the 5km or so to the first notable cape-like feature of the route – Kannon-iwa 観音岩. Along the way, you’ll be paddling along the long, lonely Kuzurehama beach – a stony beach dotted with banya 番屋 fishing huts, and flanked by tower cliffs and dense forest. The cape at Kannon-iwa can be choppy.

From Kannon-iwa, it’s a 1.5km paddle to a nicely sheltered cove, also flanked by high cliffs. From there, it’s another 3.5km or so to the destination for the day, Moiresu Bay. You’ll paddle along Kaseki-hama beach to get there. When there’s a strong southerly blowing, the broad Kaseki-hama Bay can get significant wind-chop.

Rounding Takenoko-iwa, you’ll immediately be in the relative safety and shelter of the picturesque Moiresu Bay. There’s a large fishing facility at the northern end of the bay, a river, and fine stony beach. It would make for a suitable rough camp spot if necessary.

For those with a little more gas in the tank, and assuming good sea conditions, it’s worth paddling 1km further around Tsurugi-iwa and Megane-iwa to Funadomari 船泊 for a more secluded break.

Return the way you came.

Route Timing
Trip time: 6hrs 0min


Public transport:

There’s a public bus – the Chienbetsu-sen Line 知円別線 – run by the Akan Bus Company 阿寒バス, running between Rausu and Aidomari (24km, 40mins). Buses run from Rausu two times per day. As of April 2023, they ran at 6:20am and 4:05pm from Rausu to Aidomari, and 7am and 4:45pm from Aidomari to Rausu. There’s a timetable here. The folk at the Rausu Visitor Center will be able to give you more up-to-date information on the bus. Rausu is accessible by public bus from Kushiro City (see options here). Kushiro City is accessible by JR train from major cities in Hokkaido.

By car: 

There’s a large gravel parking area at the end of the road in Aidomari here. It’s a 30-minute drive northeast from the Rausu township.

Physical maps

Japanese-language ENCs are available on the Japanese-language new pec smart smartphone app (Android | iPhone). 960yen per month for a subscription.


The S-Guide (small vessel charts) for Abashiri-Shiretoko 網走知床 (DH811W-01) is available as PDF download (buy online here). The scale is spotty though, with the entire peninsula in 1:260,000 scale, and only the main fishing ports included in small scale. The JHA/Japan Coast Guard 1:300,000 printed nautical chart for this area is Kunashiri-to Oyobi Fukin (W42 – buy online).

Official Topo Map: Shiretokodake (知床岳) – map no. NL-55-30-11-4

NOTE: The official 1/25000 topo map(s) above can be purchased for 350yen from Kinokuniya bookstore next to Sapporo Station or online (in Japanese).

route safety

As is the case with most sea kayaking areas in Hokkaido, this route is relatively exposed to the open sea. While the Kuril Islands give shelter from Pacific Ocean swells, there is a large fetch across the Nemuro Straight, so wind waves can whip up quickly. Note that while beaches are relatively accessible here, there’s no road access to the coast and there is extremely spotty mobile coverage – bring a reliable form of communication such as a GPS Messenger or PLB. Sea temperatures in the Shiretoko area are markedly colder than other areas in Hokkaido. The Shiretoko Peninsula has an extremely high population density of higuma brown bears. While it’s fairly unlikely you’ll see a bear on any of the beaches along this route, practice smart bear precautions if camping at Moiresu Bay.

Weather forecast weather forecast for Shiretoko Peninsula (Aidomari to Moiresu)

Tide information for Rausu


Onsen nearby

There are two wild hot springs on the coast just south of the end of the road – Aidomari Onsen 相泊温泉 (location) and Seseki Onsen 瀬関温泉 (location). They’re both mixed-gender, free, and extremely basic. Aidomari Onsen consists of a large concrete tub just above the high tide mark. Seseki Onsen, however, consists of two concrete and rock tubs just below the high tide mark – you’ll need to time your visit for low tide, as the tubs are awash in high tide. For a more civilized onsen soaking experience, the nearest onsen facility is the Rausu Daiichi Hotel 羅臼第一ホテル (location, 500yen). It has large indoor onsen baths and nice outdoor baths looking out towards the forest.

Extra Resources
  • Shiretoko-hanto Kayak Suiro-shi 知床半島カヤック水路誌 (2022) (pdf | HW backup)
  • Rusa Field House (location) – This facility can give up-to-date information on sea conditions, and the situation on the ground along the coast. Call on 0153-89-2722. They are on the road on the way between Rausu and Aidomari.
  • Shirekoko Website – Managed by the Ministry of Environment, this website has detailed information about sea kayaking around the Shiretko Peninsula (in Japanese).
  • Shiretoko Data Center – if you want to really geek out with data, check this website out.

Guide Options

Arguably the most experienced around-Shiretoko guide is Shinya-san from Shiretoko Expedition (website). In addition to Shinya-san, there are a number of kayaking outfits that offer daytrips, such as the Shiretoko Outdoor Guide Center (website) – although note they are based on the Utoro side of the peninsula, so you’ll need to check if they are happy to guide on this side of the peninsula.

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Route Trip Notes

The previous day, we’d just completed an inspiring day pabble paddle along 10km of the northwestern coast of the Shiretoko Peninsula from Utoro. The cliffs, waterfalls and sheer scale of the scenery had blown us away.

We were, however, also very interested to take a look at the less ‘major’ side of the peninsula – the Rausu side.

After our paddle near Utoro, we drove back to our base camp at the Rausu Campground and enjoyed a rather wet night with rain and wind.

The morning broke calm though, with an eerie cloud covering much of the coast.

When we arrived at the end of the road in Aidomari though, the cloud had burned off somewhat, and we were bathing in warm sunshine.

The weather forecast was less than perfect, but not concerning – or at least that’s what we thought as we set off. There were 15km/h winds forecast out of the south for later in the afternoon, but we figured we’d be off the water by then. We were putting in at 7:30am, so we figured this would give us more than enough time to do the 20km return paddle before the worst of the headwinds picked up in the afternoon.

The carpark at the end of the road was quite the bustling affair, with families, hikers, and then us – the only kayakers – all taking a look at the sea at the end of the road.

It was nice to push off from the stony beach and leave the madding crowds behind us. In front of us was a dramatic, long coastline with no road.

The vibe on this side of the peninsula was starkly different to what we’d experienced on the other side. The short section of coast we’d paddled on the Utoro side was swarming with tourist boats, and the fishing appeared to be more large-scale with large set nets anchored to the cliffsides.

Here, we were sharing the relatively shallow rocky reef near-coast areas with small vessels harvesing konbu (kelp). There were banya 番屋 fishing huts dotted along the stony beaches. It felt remote, windswept and a hard place to make a living.

As we made our way north along the coast, we enjoyed a moderate tailwind, hastening our way northwards. In the back of my mind it occurred to me that this might come back to bite us later…but for now, it was smooth sailing.

We soon made it to the first cape of the trip – Kannon-iwa 観音岩. Somewhat like the backbone of an ancient sea creature, rocks jutted out vertically from the sea. We were able to slalom through them as we rounded the cape. As predicted, the sea was whipping up into some small waves on the south side of the cape, but as soon as we rounded it, we were paddling on flat water again.

Just beyond Kannon-iwa, we made our first stop for the trip, at a small sheltered inlet with a stony beach. With the absence of any sort of road near us, it felt gloriously removed from the rest of the world.

From the small sheltered inlet, we made the final 4km or so northwards along Kaseki-hama beach towards the cape-like Takenoko-iwa タケノコ岩. As we paddled, the tailwind only got stiffer.

The surroundings felt even more remote.

From the small sheltered inlet, we made the final 4km or so northwards along Kaseki-hama beach towards the cape-like Takenoko-iwa タケノコ岩. As we paddled, the tailwind only got stiffer.

The surroundings felt even more remote.

Rounding Takenoko-iwa was somewhat of a relief, as we were once again ushered into the lee of the strengthening southerly.

As we rounded the cape, we saw glimpses of something moving among the enormous boulders on the shoreline. As we watched for a few moments, we realized it was a group of hikers. 

This section of coast is the most popular way of getting to Shiretoko Cape on foot. With a careful reading of the tides, and some clambering using ropes, it’s possible walk the 30-odd kilometers from Aidomari. It’s much faster paddling it, but every year lots of hardy hikers make the trek to the cape and back.

As we rounded the last few rocks to Moiresu Bay, we saw a few more hikers hiking in the oppposite direction – back towards Aidomari. It felt like we’d chanced upon some kindred spirits on this otherwise lonely paddle north.

We pulled up on the stony beach, and proceeded to relax into a long lunch break. It was 10:30am. We’d been on the water for three hours.

Soon, the group of hikers who’d been making their way north appeared over the rocks at the south of the bay. We would all end up sitting in the same area of the beach, enjoying a leisurely break.

A clearly resident fox, largely unafraid of us humans, sat patiently a few meters away from us.

The forecast of strengthening southerlies was weighing on my mind.

The morning’s forecast called for strengthening winds midday, but then calm weather after that. We discussed hanging around the bay until later in the afternoon to avoid the worst of the headwind.

In the end though, we decided to push on and make the return sooner rather than later. After all, if things got too windy, we could always pull up in the lee of a cape and wait things out.

Just as we were getting ready to head off, a small fishing boat arrived in the bay. At least that’s what it looked like. But on the boat were five cold-looking tourists, clearly on a bit of a boat tour of the area.

The hikers had moved on, and were now skirting a particularly tidal-looking rock ledge around the cape to the north of the bay.

I pushed off the beach first, paddling backwards so I could keep in a good position to take a photo of the bay with the wide-angle lens of my GoPro. I’d taken lots of wide-angle photos the past few days with the GoPro, and I was looking forward to getting a good one of Moiresu Bay.

I paddled backwards, and at the point that I figured I’d get a good shot, I reached for the GoPro.

But it wasn’t there.

Usually, I would attach the GoPro to my bungee lines on my kayak with a small carabiner. But it wasn’t there.

I paddled back to the beach, certain I must have left it there.

I couldn’t find it.

The only explanation was that in my haste to get off the beach, I’d forgotten to latch it to the deck lines, and it had fallen into the bay.

Haidee, the only one wearing any neoprene, heroically donned a neoprene hood and goggles, and did a quick swim over the area where I’d paddled out. But, with the sea floor carpeted with kelp, it was in vain.

Two days of photos gone. And a GoPro now offered to the sea.

A little despondent, we moved on. As we rounded the gnarled and rocky Takenoko-iwa, the brisk southerly hit us. It was going to be a tough paddle back to the put in.

The wind snapped at our paddle blades. We were making progress, but it was slow.

Mercifully, the sea hadn’t been whipped up into any significant waves yet. We probably had a couple of hours before things got really hairy.

Here and there, capes offered brief sections of calm in their lee.

By the time we finally arrived back at Aidomari, we were happy to see the van. We’d got a taste of just a mild windy day here on the Shiretoko Peninsula. It had been tough, beautiful, and challenging.

Comments | Queries | Reports

Done this route to Shiretoko Peninsula (Aidomari to Moiresu), or other waterways nearby? Thinking of doing it? Please post any feedback, reports, or queries here. Thanks!

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Aidomari to Moiresu Sea Kayaking (Shiretoko Peninsula) Difficulty Rating





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GRADES range from A (very difficult) to D (easy). Hazards include exposure to avalanche and fall risk. More details here. Rating rubric adapted from Hokkaido Yukiyama Guidebook 北海道雪山ガイド.