Cycling and island-hopping across the Seto Inland Sea
The Seto Inland Sea, located between Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu islands in japan, is a breathtakingly beautiful region known for its sparkling seas, white sandy beaches, and stunning green islands. One of the best ways to explore this picturesque area is by embarking on the Shimanami Kaido route, a 70-kilometer cycling and island-hopping adventure that connects the city of Onomichi in Hiroshima prefecture to Imabari in Ehime prefecture.
The Shimanami Kaido route is a marvel of engineering, featuring several bridges that span the Seto Inland Sea. These architectural wonders not only provide convenient access to the islands but also offer breathtaking views of the turquoise waters below. One of the most notable bridges along the route is Tatara Ohashi, the second longest cable-stayed bridge in the world.
Whether you choose to explore the Shimanami Kaido by bicycle or by car, you’ll have the opportunity to discover the fascinating museums, gardens, and temples that dot the islands. Each island along the route has its own unique charm and attractions. From the stylish and slick Tokoro and Toyo Ito museums to the swirling currents of the Kurushima Strait, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
One of the highlights of island-hopping along the Shimanami Kaido is sampling each island’s specialty ice cream. From salt-flavored ice cream to rose and a variety of locally grown fruits, these delectable treats are a must-try for any visitor. Additionally, the Seto Inland Sea region is known for its mild climate, which results in abundant flora. Oshima Island, for example, is home to hundreds of varieties of roses that bloom in a deluge of color. For more flora, you can head to Citrus Park Setoda or the Innoshima Flower Center.
To embark on the Shimanami Kaido route, you can easily access it from both Hiroshima and Ehime prefectures. Bicycles can be rented or dropped off at any of the 14 bike depots along the route. Onomichi Station, located in Hiroshima prefecture, is a convenient starting point for the route and is easily accessible from Fukuyama Station. From Matsuyama, the capital city of Ehime prefecture, you can take the Shiokaze/Ishizuchi Limited Express to Imabari.
While some ambitious cyclists may attempt to complete the 70-kilometer route in a single day, it is highly recommended to take two or three days to fully enjoy the scenic beauty of the area. This allows for a more relaxed pace and the opportunity to get to know the locals while staying at the small inns and hotels on the islands.
When planning your cycling adventure along the Shimanami Kaido, it is important to note that going from Imabari to Onomichi instead of the other way around makes for an easier ride. Imabari Station is a convenient starting point for the route, and you can rent a bike from there or take a taxi to the Sunrise Itoyama bicycle terminal, which is adjacent to the route’s starting point.
The Shimanami Kaido route is designed with the safety and convenience of cyclists in mind. It features designated bike lanes that make riding hassle-free, even for beginners. Whether you are an experienced cyclist or a novice, this route offers a unique and memorable way to explore the beauty of the Seto Inland Sea region.
In addition to the stunning natural landscapes and cultural attractions, the islands along the Shimanami Kaido route offer a wide variety of culinary delights to fuel your cycling adventure. From Hakata salt ramen to okonomiyaki pancakes, eel, and locally made ice cream, there are plenty of delicious treats to keep you energized during your journey. For a more in-depth look at the islands’ produce, you can visit the Goto Soda Factory or the Ushio Chocolatl chocolate factory on Mukaishima.
The Shimanami Kaido route is a must-visit destination for any cycling enthusiast or nature lover. With its beautiful landscapes, cultural attractions, and delicious cuisine, this cycling and island-hopping adventure offers a unique and unforgettable experience. Whether you are seeking adventure, relaxation, or a deeper connection with nature and culture, the Seto Inland Sea region has it all. So grab your bike, pack your bags, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey along the Shimanami Kaido route.
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