The first step to enjoying Shimanami is getting there. Unfortunately, this process can be quite complicated, for foreign and Japanese tourists alike. Here is some advice to start planning your trip...
Traveling From Abroad
If you are traveling directly to Shimanami Kaido from a foreign country, the closest international airport is the Hiroshima Airport (広島空港), located between Hiroshima City and Onomichi. Once you arrive at the airport there are three main options to get to Onomichi station (尾道駅）...
1. Limousine Bus- Onomichi Bus (リムジンバス- おのみちバス株式会社)
takes only 55min and costs ¥1,130. The down side is that it only comes three times a day, once in the morning, noon, and evening.
2. Flower Liner + Fukuyama Limousine Bus (フラワーライナー + 福山リムジンバス )
takes 70-90 min and costs ¥1,130. It departs roughly once every hour. The downside is that you have to transfer at Takasaka Bus Station (高坂BS) and there are more stops in between so travel time is longer.
3. Bus Service+JR (バス＋JR)
takes 70-90 min and costs ¥1,000-¥1,500 depending on which station you transfer at. The bus service departing Hiroshima airport is more frequent, departing every half hour.
[Hiroshima Airport Limousine]
Traveling From Tokyo
If you happen to be visiting Tokyo or live in the city, you have an alternative way to get to Shimanami: the Shinkansen (新幹線), or speed rail.
The most direct route is to take the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen (東海道•山陽新幹線) from Tokyo Station (東京駅） to Fukuyama Station（福山駅）, and then take the local JR Sanyo Line (山陽本線）from Fukuyama Station to Onomichi Station.
When deciding between taking a plane or Shinkansen (from Tokyo), there are a few things to consider...
Price- Plane tickets average ￥10,000-￥20,000 one way, depending on which airline you choose and the time of year. On the other hand, the Shinkansen is consistently ￥18,000 one way.
Time- Flight time is only 1.5hrs, however keep in mind the time it takes to get to the airport, go through check-in plus security, as well as bus time to Onomichi Station. This adds up to roughly 4 hrs, which is the same as the amount of time it takes to ride the Shinkansen and local train.
Comfort- If you dislike long rides, then flying for just 1.5 hrs is probably your best option. However, if you want to avoid the hassle of walking around the airport with your luggage, you can take the Shinkansen.
Others- It is much more convenient to bring aboard your own bike on the Shinkansen. There are seats towards the front and back of each car that have extra space for large items.