Just north up the coast from Hiroshima is the Shimanami Kaido, a road through a cluster of islands connected by a network of bridges. The Shimanami Kaido is a great cycle route that is hugely popular with cyclists of all abilities. The route from the start to Imabari is about 70km, but there are places along the way where you can hop on a ferry back to Onomichi. As soon as I heard about it I knew we had to give it a go!
We got a train to Onomichi where you can hire bikes before getting a ferry to an island just south where the cycle route begins. We collected a map from the tourist information office at Onomichi station which showed where you can hire bikes. Hiring bikes was easy and the staff gave us plenty of information. Soon we were kitted out and on our way!
Finding our way along the route was ridiculously simple as there is a blue line marked in the road that you just follow all the way! There are also regular signs and maps for those cycling the route.
The Shimanami Kaido is like nothing else that I’ve experienced in Japan. The views out over the Inland Sea are stunning with islands dotted here and there; the bridges between the larger islands are magnificent; and the buzz of industry juxtaposed with beautiful citrus groves gives the area a really unique atmosphere.
We found a citrus shop on the road into Setoda which was set back off the road a little and so quite a lucky find. Outside they were selling fresh citrus fruit and frozen citrus juices. Inside they had a huge range of local citrus goods and foodie souvenirs. We bought a cup of fresh juice which turned out to be from the haruka fruit which is a pale yellow citrus fruit with a beautifully light, sweet flavour. It was so refreshing and perfect for after a morning of cycling. I went back and bought two more frozen haruka juices to take back to our hotel!
Unfortunately, we didn’t have a whole day to do more of the route, and so after about 30km we hopped on a ferry back from Setoda and dropped our bikes back in Onomichi. We would love to go back one day, perhaps hire road bikes, and do the whole 70km route!