Fun and Safe Even for Beginners! Shimanami Kaido Cycling Route



Fun and Safe Even for Beginners! Shimanami Kaido Cycling Route


Shimanami Kaido is a 70km route that connects six islands in the Seto Inland Sea. It runs from Onomichi, Hiroshima Prefecture, to Imabari, Ehime Prefecture. This road sports the first bicycle path in Japan that crosses channels, and it's also considered a sacred spot for cyclists. It is said to be enjoyable by pros and amateurs alike, so we went on a little cycling adventure to see what Shimanami Kaido has to offer.

Combining Bicycle and Boat to Travel the Islands

A 70km cycling route might not sound like a suitable challenge for beginners, but don't worry. There are ferries and high-speed boats cruising back and forth from the islands. This will allow you to enjoy the amount of cycling that you're comfortable with, even in just one day.

We took a high-speed boat from Onomichi port to Ikuchijima Island's Setoda port. Then we rented a bike, crossed the Tatara Bridge and came back. It was a cycling route of about 20km.

Read more about Ikuchijima here!こちら

Renting a Bike in Onomichi

There are plenty of choices for bike rentals along the Shimanami Kaido. We chose the city owned rental because of their reasonable prices and the abundance of terminals, but there are many other shops such as Giant, a popular Taiwanese brand. Our rental shop was very convenient because you can drop off your bike at any of their hubs (except for pedal assist bicycles).

You can rent a hybrid or city bike for 1000 yen/day and a pedal assist bike for 1500 yen/day. The wind is often strong on the islands, so pedal assist bicycles are a good choice if you're not used to cycling or not confident in your physical strength.

Pedal assist bicycles come with English instructions.

This is the one that we rented. You can also borrow a helmet for free.
Shimanami Bicycle Rental Onomichi Port (Onomichi Station port parking) | しまなみレンタサイクル 尾道港(駅前港湾駐車場)
Hours: 7:00am-7:00pm

The High-Speed Boat Ride to Ikuchijima

The boarding point for the high-speed boat to Setoda Port in Ikuchijima is right next to the bike rental.

You can pay for your cruise directly on the boat. The extra cost for boarding a bicycle is 300 yen (400 yen for the pedal assist bicycle).
The ride to Setoda Port takes 40 minutes. From the boat you can enjoy the view of Setouchi, the region that encompasses the coastal areas of Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu.

Setouchi- Cruising | 瀬戸内クルージング
Onomichi-Setoda route fare: 1050 yen (+300 yen for bicycles, + 400 yen for pedal assist bicycles or motorcycles)

Things to Know About the Shimanami Kaido

While bridges have a bicycle path, on the islands bicycles run on the same roads as pedestrians and cars. If you're afraid to get lost, just look for the blue line on the left side of the road; it indicates the recommended cycling route. Every kilometer it also indicates the distance to Onomichi, Imabari and other destinations so you can use this as a reference.

Also, the islands are dotted with "Shimanami Cycle Oasis" spots. Here you'll be able to rest, go to the toilet, inflate your tires and get cycling information. They are a true cyclist's oasis.

About three minutes from the Setoda Port by bike is the Setoda City Tourist Information Center. Here you can also rent a bike. The staff will help you if you need information about what to see, where to stay, or anything else.
Setoda City Tourist Information Center | 瀬戸田町観光案内所
Address: 200-5 Setodachosawa, Onomichi-shi, Hiroshima Prefecture
Hours: 9:00am-7:00pm
Closed December 29-31

Cycling in the Refreshing Sea Breeze

Among the islands on the Shimanami Kaido, Ikuchijima is known for its flat, easy cycle roads. Cutting through the wind along the coast is the most wonderful feeling.

After cycling for a while you will catch the first glimpse of Shimanami Kaido's top spot: the Tatara Bridge. This cable-stayed bridge is an impressive view, its shape reminiscent of a swan spreading its wings.

Tatara Bridge has a separate entrance for bicycles and cars, so make sure you follow the signs and directions on the road.

1. Entrance to Tatara Bridge


2. Bicycles go to the right


3. Tatara Bridge is drawing near


4. You can see the bicycle path


5. Toll booth (entrance for bicycles will be free until March 31, 2018)


The Beautiful Cable-Stayed Bridge

Here is what crossing the bridge looks like. The view is exceptional.

When you reach the first pillar you will find a sign that says "Tatara Naki-Ryu". Naki-Ryu, meaning howling dragon, is a kind of sound phenomenon that you can experience in certain places. You will find two wooden sticks called hyoshigi that you can clap together at the foot of the pillar. The resulting sound will reverberate and rise to the sky while you experience the mysterious howling of the dragon.

The bridge is also where Hiroshima Prefecture becomes Ehime prefecture.

Take a Break at the Roadside Station, Brushed by the Sea Breeze

At the end of Tatara Bridge you will find the roadside station Tatara Shimanami Park. The view from here is the perfect photo spot.。

There is also a restaurant and a souvenir shop.

Road Station “Tatara Shimanami Park” | 道の駅多々羅しまなみ公園
Address: 9180-2 Kamiuracho Inokuchi, Imabari-shi, Ehime Prefecture
Hours: 9:00am-5:00pm (restaurant: 10:00am-4:00pm. Times may change during the busy season)

Choose the Route That Suits You for a Pleasant Cycling Experience

This is Shimanami Kaido, a cycling route that can be enjoyed by cyclists of all levels. Are you feeling like trying it out too? All you have to do is choose your own route. We turned back once arrived to the Tatara Shimanami Park, but you could continue all the way to Omishima. You could start from Imabari and go to Oshima or Hakatajima. Or start from Onomichi and go to Mukaijima, past Innoshima and to Ikuchijima. Each island is unique so make the best of your time and endurance and find the perfect route!

Read more about Ikuchijima here!→Click!


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THIS ARTICLE IS BASED ON INFORMATION FROM 04 30,2019 Author:Chiharu Matsunaga