Cycling the Shimanami Kaido (しまなみ海道)
What is the Shimanami Kaido?
The Shimanami Kaido (しまなみ海道, Shimanami Kaidō) is a 60 kilometer long toll road that connects Japan’s main island of Honshu to the island of Shikoku, passing over six small islands in the Seto Inland Sea.
Cycling is a popular means of experiencing the Shimanami Kaido. The bicycle route is well marked and maintained, and diverges from the expressway on the islands. The ramps leading up to the bridges were built at small inclines with cyclists in mind. At about 70 kilometers, the bike route is a bit longer than the toll road, but because there are no large inclines, it can be comfortably completed in a day by intermediate cyclists.
- Don’t Rush it. It’s a simple route, any novice could complete it in a single day, it’s not a great achievement. Take the time – plan and explore the area; talk to the Locals, stop and go for a swim. There’s so much to do.
- Visit Ōkunoshima (Rabbit Island) – A quick ferry ride from two potential ports be surrounded by cute and furry friends and spend the night at an amazing Japanese style hotel with sunsets and beaches.
- Bicycle Rentals – Ensure you’ve booked your bike rental before arriving. They often shut on weird days of the week but will make an exception if you have booked ahead. I recommend The Red Bicycles Onomichi
- One way or Return – logistically speaking… it’s MUCH simpler to ride the bike back to where you picked it up. However if you don’t have the time you can pay for returning the bike via a courier. I’ve not done this but want to note it is an option. I’d recommend return trip and trying an alternate route starting from Onomichi.
- Routes of the Shimanami Kaido – there are multiple routes / lines you can follow on your adventure. The main line I find to be good but think the Island Explorer to be the better options; there’s less traffic (cars and trucks), less polluted and better scenery. See recommended (Black) route below.
It’s a small town – if you haven’t been outside the major cities this will be a charming small town with good cafe’s food and fun little things to do such as:
- Onomichi Ramen: Onomichi is a ramen style that consists of soy sauce-based broth that is occasionally flavored with pork, seafood from the Seto Inland Sea, chicken, or dashi. The broth is served hot with flat wheat noodles of medium thickness and a generous serving of seabura – pork back fat. Recommend Denyasu – most places are quite crowded but this one is just as good with almost no wait.
- Senkoji Park – Amazong Views and Sakura (cherry blossom) flower viewing. Recommend walking up/down at least once to see the Cat Alley and winding streets and temples.