The Shimanami Kaido is a route that is best enjoyed through cycling. Riding on a bicycle allows you to be closer to nature, plus you can feel the pleasant ocean breeze as you zip through the several islands and bridges. If you have never cycled before this adventure may seem daunting at first, however, we assure you that it is a memorable experience that you will be sure to appreciate! Here are some tips to help you prepare for your journey…
BASIC ROUTE INFO
The Shimanami Kaido is roughly 70km long and spans 7 islands and 6 bridges. Does it sound challenging already? Don’t worry! There are plenty of helpful guides along the way, plus the scenery is so beautiful that you probably will not realize how tired you are until you have completed the journey!
Above is the map that is available at every bicycle rental location. The recommended route is highlighted in magenta. However, many people may miss the small chart in the upper right hand corner that shows the elevation of each bridge. This is important to note because going uphill can be really tiresome, so it is good to anticipate it ahead of time.
WHAT TO BRING
If you have never cycled before, you might not know about the equipment that is necessary. Since people usually rent cycling bicycles, the handles and seats are very hard. Thus, it is recommended that you buy gloves and a special type of cycling shorts that have padding for comfort. Trust us, you will be thankful you wore these!
Some other useful items include…
- Small Bag/Backpack- not too big or else it will be a burden to bike with!
- Helmet- available at bicycle rental shops
- Wallet- with plenty of small coins to buy water (see “TIPS” section below)
- Cell phone- surprisingly, signal and data are pretty accessible throughout the route
- Sunscreen- the sun tends to be strong around this area of Japan so stay protected!
- Water bottle- take note that there aren’t many places to refill water though
- Map- so that you can track how far you have cycled and how much is left
- Notebook and pen- always just useful to have
- Camera- so that you can record all the beautiful scenery!
Stay hydrated! There are drink vending machines frequently placed throughout the route.
Stop and enjoy the rest places! There is no need to bike for 70km straight. Shimanami Kaido is full of fun beaches and interesting shops to explore. One famous rest place is a gelato store named Dolce located on Ikuchijima Island.
Start early and finish before sunset! We recommend beginning your cycling adventure around 8am and no later than 9am. The full journey takes 7-10 hours, and there is not very good lighting on the biking path once the sun sets, especially during the wintertime when the sun sets as early as 5pm! During the summer, if you start early and take your time to enjoy the sights along the way, you just might arrive at the last bridge around sunset. We were lucky enough to do so and were greeted with the most spectacular view!