Part of the region of Japan known as Setouchi, the Seto Inland Sea is the body of water between Japan’s main island, Honshu, and the smaller island, Shikoku. Sprinkled in this sparkling sea are several beautiful islands full of local charm and inviting beaches, all of which are connected by several impressive suspension bridges. The 60km road connecting these bridges and the islands, from Onomichi on Honshu to Imabari on Shikoku, is the Shimanami Kaido (literally, Shimanami sea-road).
On a bright day, there are few better ways to experience ‘Japan’s paradise’ than by cycling this route. You could do it all in one day, but much better to leisurely enjoy the islands over the course of two days, staying in a ryokan one night. The standard route to follow is marked with a blue line painted along the footpath, with more challenging, steeper, routes also marked.
A popular pastime, everything is available at Onomichi or Imabari (depending on where you start) for you to begin your journey; you can rent normal bikes, road bikes and e-bikes, along with helmets and other equipment. The main rental companies also offer accident support should you need it. Along the route are plenty of bike-rental stations; if you get tired or want to stop, simply return your bike to one of the stations, and hop on a ferry back to the mainland (or Shikoku!) for some well-deserved relaxation.
Known for lemons and citrus fruits, Onomichi ramen, oysters, and octopus, all along the kaido are a cornucopia of local and seasonal delights to taste. With breath-taking views and thrilling down-roads, the Shimanami Kaido is not to be missed!