Where to Ride in Shimanami

Shimanami Kaido is the bicycle-friendly expressway that connects mainland Japan to the island of Shikoku, spanning over 70 km. This charming route is a paradise for cyclists – a blend of peaceful nature, fascinating attractions, and fresh air. 

Ride over the chain of bridges, along the sea paths, and through the picturesque towns and citrus groves while enjoying the awe-inspiring panoramic views. Here’s everything you need to know about cycling in this breathtaking area.

General Information

Located along the Seto Inland Sea, Shimanami Kaido boasts a series of islands linked by bridges to form this picturesque route. This expressway accommodates cyclists, 

pedestrians, and vehicles, providing convenient access to several islands. 

With dedicated cycling lanes and multiple bike terminals along the way, Shimanami Kaido caters well to cyclists, making it an otherworldly experience.

Weather Conditions

The best time to cycle the Shimanami Kaido is during spring (March to May) or autumn (September to November), when there are mild temperatures and little rainfall. 

The summer months (June to August) can be hot and humid, while winter (December to February) tends to be colder, with occasional snowfall. Be sure to check the weather forecast before departing to avoid rough conditions.

What to Expect

While riding the Shiman Kami Kaido, cyclists will encounter breathtaking landscapes, rustic island cultures, and warm, friendly locals. With a well-maintained infrastructure, this route suits beginners and experienced cyclists. 

Enjoy the vibrant history, iconic architecture, and delicious local cuisine, all while pedaling through this one-of-a-kind region.

Pre-trip Preparations

Before hopping on a bike, it’s essential to prepare adequately. Ensure you have a comfortable cycling outfit, sunscreen, enough water, and a basic first aid kit. Check the weather forecast in advance and check your bike’s condition.

Bike Rental

There are various bike terminals along the Shimanami Kaido where you can rent or return bicycles. If you start from Onomichi, you’ll find a sizeable rental terminal near Onomichi Station – a prime spot to begin your journey. 

The rental cost is around 1,100 yen per day for adults and 300 yen per day for children.

Onomichi to Imabari: Main Shimanami Bike Route

Onomichi

Start your trip in the picturesque town of Onomichi, famous for its old temples, lovely vintage streets, and stunning ocean views.

Mukaishima

From Onomichi, take a ferry to Mukaishima. These ferries frequently run throughout the day, and the line is exclusively built for cyclists and pedestrians. They cost roughly 100 yen per person.

Innoshima

Ride over the Innoshima Bridge to reach Innoshima. You can enjoy the island’s serene countryside beauty and visit Innoshima Suigun Castle here.

Ikuchijima

Next, cross the Ikuchi Bridge to reach Ikuchijima. Here, it would help if you visited the Hirayama Ikuo Museum of Art and Kosanji Temple – a monumental temple complex symbolizing a paradise in Buddhism.

Omishima to Oshima

After crossing the Tatara and Omishima Bridges, stop at Oshima. It’s worth visiting Murakami Suigun Museum or enjoying the adorable rural homely feel.

Imabari

End your cycling trip in Imabari, the second-largest city in Ehime Prefecture and well-known for its seaport.

Unique Side Trips

Besides the main routes, you can take numerous detours to explore the islands further, dive into local culture, sample delicious cuisines, and visit historically significant spots. It can include side trips to Habu Port, Setoda Town, Yoshiumi Rose Park on Omishima, and Kurushima Kaikyo Service Area.

Post-trip Relaxation

After a long cycling day, treat yourself to some local food. Try Imabari’s famous yakitori or other regional specialties like seafood or citrus fruits. To recharge your batteries, visit Kome Ryotei – an onsen (hot spring) with an incredible view of the Kurushima Kaikyo Bridge.

Safety Tips for the Shimanami Kaido Riding Experience

Ensuring safety during your trip guarantees a smooth journey and makes the experience much more enjoyable. Below are some safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Wear a Helmet: Always prioritize your safety by wearing a helmet. It goes a long way in case of an accident or a fall.
  • Hydrate Frequently: When cycling — especially in the hot weather- be sure to stay well hydrated. Always carry water with you.
  • Obey Traffic Laws: Adhere to all traffic laws and respect traffic signals.
  • Keep an Eye on Your Belongings: Ensure your possessions are securely attached to your bike.
  • Be Mindful of the Map: Familiarize yourself with the planned route to avoid getting lost.
  • Carry a Repair Kit: Have a puncture repair kit to address any possible tire issues.
  • Use Reflective Gear: If riding after dark or in poor light, use reflective gear for better visibility.
  • Ride Defensively: Be proactive and alert to your surroundings, especially when traversing shared roads with vehicles.

Conclusion

Whether you’re an experienced cyclist or an enthusiastic beginner, Shimanami Kaido has something for everyone. With its breathtaking scenery, welcoming islands, and imposing bridges, it’s the perfect place to explore the inconspicuous beauty of Japan. 

Remember, the journey matters more than the destination – so take your time, enjoy the ride, and let Shimanami charm you.

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