Best of Hokkaido By Bike

Best of Hokkaido By Bike

Trip Highlights

  • Cycle from the east coast of Hokkaido to its most northern city
  • Cycle-friendly rural roads and cycling paths
  • Stunning views of caldera lakes
  • Shiretoko National Park, a World Heritage Area
  • Explore Rishiri Island
  • Stay at traditional Japanese inns with hot springs on site
  • Experience Hokkaido’s fresh seafood oriental cuisines

Trip Summary

Hokkaido at the northern edge of Japan offers fantastic opportunities for adventure seekers. Hokkaido may be best known for the excellent snow conditions, but there are secrets that are revealed only in summer. The heavy snowfall in winter is what makes Hokkaido roads so wide and smooth, providing perfect conditions for road cycling. The roads are maintained regularly (virtually every summer) and built with ample space to house the snow. The harsh winter also means less population, traffic and good food, everything you wish for in a cycle touring destination! The ocean surrounding Hokkaido is blessed with bountiful seafood, attracting many food lovers all over the country, and it gets more exotic and even higher quality as we journey further north. This 10 day itinerary explores the northernmost national park of Japan containing the undiscovered cycling paradise Rishiri Island. There are over six thousand islands belonging to the Japanese Archipelago, and islands are the destinations you can’t miss when in Japan!

This tour is designed for stronger riders who like to ride longer distances. The route is set so cyclists can challenge themselves by cycling the whole route from lodging to lodging. In the event of bad weather or illness, you have the option to exchange your bike for the support vehicle, which will carry all equipment and luggage.

We highly recommend our 2 nights extension option in Kyoto, including a day cycling through a bamboo forest, rock garden, Zen temple and the Golden Pavilion (ask for more details).

Trip Grading

To determine the grade of a particular adventure we consider a number of factors. These include the condition of the terrain, the altitude, the number of pass crossings and the length of the trip. The Best of Hokkaido by Bike is graded moderate. You will need a reasonable level of fitness and we suggest 60 minutes of aerobic type exercise, (either cycling or jogging) three times a week for the three months leading up to your trip. The tour is fully supported and if at any stage you feel like having a rest from cycling you will be able to ride in the support vehicle.


We meet at 6:00pm (18:00hrs) at our hotel in Abashiri near the train station. After a tour briefing and introduction we take a stroll through the city and enjoy a welcome dinner in town. Abashiri is the largest city on the east coast of Hokkaido and is famous for the winter attraction ryuhyo, the huge ice that has drifted down from the Amur River. If you are arriving at Abashiri early, we recommend you visit the Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum, Hokkaido Museum of Northern Peoples or Abashiri Prison Museum. All these attractions are accessible by bus from the hotel. Accommodation: Hotel/Ensuite bathroom

Meals:  D

After a bike fitting and briefing this morning, we head south from Abashiri to a beautiful caldera lake. The ride takes us via Bihoro Pass, which looks over the lake and surrounding mountains. At the top of the pass we have lunch at a rest house, it is then a pleasant ride downhill to the shore of Lake Kussharo-Ko. Lake Kussharo-Ko is the second largest lake in Hokkaido, and one of three lakes in the Akan National Park. The area is well known for its abundant hot springs, a result of the volcanic activity in the area. We have a brief stop at sunayu, a popular foot spa site on the shores of Lake Kussharo-Ko. Tonight’s accommodation is located in the small Ainu village (indigenous people of Japan) where you will find many Ainu wood carving art shops. Accommodation: Ryokan/Ensuite bathroom Cycling distance: 85km Total ascent: 688m

Meals:  B,D

This morning we continue cycling along Lake Kussharo-Ko, passing the active volcano Iozan (or “Sulphur Mountain”), which erupted about 600 years ago but is still steaming and reeking of sulphur. After a gradual but long uphill ride we reach the lookout above Lake Mashu-Ko where the view is worth the effort. Lake Mashu-Ko, nestled in a deep caldera surrounded by high cliffs, is an amazing emerald blue colour due to its very high water clarity. It is believed the high cliffs prevent human activity on the lake which helps protect the water quality. A fine mist covers the lake itself for most of the time but if we are lucky we may catch a glimpse of the emerald blue. The rest of today's cycling is flatter and through the Nakashibetsu farming area - one of Japan’s most productive dairy regions. We continue to the Rausu area on Shiretoko peninsula. This afternoon, we have an option to ride a further 24km each way to the secluded Aidomari onsen. We will also cycle on the quiet coastal road into the Shiretoko National Park, passing by many fishermen’s sheds, waterfalls and possibly sight some wild Shika deer on the way. Accommodation: Ryokan/Ensuite bathroom Cycling distance: 134-182km Total ascent: 1175-1275m

Meals:  B,D

From Rausu at sea level, we cycle up and over the Shireoko Crossroad to the other side of the Peninsula. It’s about 16km to the summit of the pass at 738m, with a spectacular view of Mt. Rausu. If you wish to explore more onsen in the national park, we recommend you take a side trip to Iwaobetsu Onsen. The rock pools set in the beautiful native forest are a popular sight for local hikers. Utoro provides a great stop for lunch and visiting the information centre, a great place to learn about the wildlife and the area’s ecological significance. Tonight we are back in Abashiri, staying at a lakeside inn this time, where awaits you with an outdoor onsen with superb lake views. Accommodation: Hotel/Ensuite bathroom Cycling distance: 130km Total ascent: 1380m

Meals:  B,D

Today is a rest day in Abashiri. Relax at our quiet lakeside accommodation with a nice onsen on site, or explore Abashiri at your leisure. There are a visitor centre, shopping and museums within easy cycling distance of our accommodation. Accommodation: Hotel/Ensuite bathroom Cycling distance: no cycling today

Meals:  B

This morning we start cycling on a designated cycling path, which takes us to Lake Notoro and then onto Lake Saroma, Hokkaido’s largest lake. The area is well known for the scallop farming so you should have lots of opportunity to taste the local specialty today. After Saroma we bypass the town of Monbetsu and continue our journey north on the Okhotsk Line to Hinode Misaki. Our hotel for the night is located near the sea in Hinode Misaki, which translates “Sunrise Cape”. From here you can watch the beautiful sunrise in the morning. Accommodation: Hotel/Ensuite bathroom Cycling distance: 150km Total ascent: 670m

Meals:  B,D

Today we stay close to the shore all day, taking in the gentle sea breeze from the Okhotsk Sea. We will cycle through small fishing towns, Oumu and Esashi, famous for the large production of hairy crabs, considered as a delicacy by many Japanese. As we travel further north, the road becomes very quiet with little traffic. There are a couple of nice swimming spots on the sandy beach before settling into our lodging at Hamatonbetsu tonight. Accommodation: Ryokan/Shared Bathroom Cycling distance: 95km Total ascent: 280m

Meals:  B,D

On leaving Hamatonbetsu, we cycle by Lake Kutcharo, home to thousands of swans making their winter migration from northern Siberia. Lake Kutcharo is a registered Ramsar Wetland, being the staging ground for migratory waterfowl. We continue travelling north along the coast to Wakkanai today, aiming for Japan’s northern most point, Cape Soya. On a clear day you can see the outline of Sakhalin Island of Russia only 43kms away. Accommodation: Hotel/Ensuite bathroom Cycling distance: 95km Total ascent: 210m

Meals:  B

This morning we take a 1.5 hour ferry to the Rishiri Island. The island is Japan’s cycling paradise with a circumference of 60km. The quiet coastal road is all fantastic riding, with the majestic Mt. Rishiri in sight all day along. What makes the island special for cycling is the purpose built cycling paths, which last for about 25km, and include a couple of spectacular viaducts. If you wish to keep riding you are welcome to go around twice! Accommodation: Ryokan/Ensuite bathroom Cycling distance: 55km Total ascent: 350m

Meals:  B,D

After a hearty breakfast we farewell the island and board the ferry that takes us back to Wakkanai, where our trip concludes.The ferry arrives in Wakkanai at 10:10am and there are regular shuttles and trains departing for Sapporo, and daily flights to Sapporo and Tokyo.

Meals:  B

What's Included

  • 9 breakfasts, 7 dinners
  • 9 nights hotel/traditional inn accommodation on a twin share basis, some nights have shared bathroom facilities
  • Professional bilingual group leader & bike mechanic
  • Private vehicle transport
  • Road bike rental, hybrid bikes available on request
  • All ferry transport as described in the itinerary
  • Water bottle, water and snacks whilst cycling
  • Sightseeing and entry fees listed in itinerary

What's Not Included

  • International or domestic flights and taxes
  • Arrival and departure transfers
  • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary
  • All beverages, other than breakfast
  • Compulsory bike helmet
  • Optional activities (eg activities on free day in Abashiri)
  • Personal expenses (eg. phone calls, internet, laundry, shopping etc)
  • Additional transport required due to any emergency situation
  • Travel insurance (compulsory)
  • Visa (if required)
  • Tips

The bicycles supplied on this tour are 21 speed, aluminium frame, hybrid bikes with v-brakes. The bikes come fitted with a water bottle holder – maximum capacity 750ml. If you would prefer a road bike, these can be hired for an additional YPY10,000 payable locally, please let us know in advance.

A bike-fit will be carried out at the start of the tour to make minor adjustments to the seat height and position of your handlebars. You are welcome to bring your own saddle and pedals which your guide can fit for you. A gel seat cover is also highly recommended and well worth the additional cost (available in cycling shops).

Basic tools will be carried aboard your support vehicle and your trip leader will assist in the event of any mechanical difficulties.

We regret that there are only a few smaller women's bicycles and these can be reserved for shorter group members, so long as we are advised of your height well in advance of your tour departure.



Duration:10 Days
Starting Point:Abashiri
Grade:Moderate to Challenging  Click for more information
Trip Code:BOH
Prices From:NZD$4895
Single Supplement:NZD$550 
Forced Single Supplement:NZD$550