Cycling the Shimanami Kaido
May 23, 2011 by sevenbrane
The islands along the Shimanami Kaido, which consist of wooded hills in the interior, are very rural and sparsely populated. The air is filled with bird song and dancing butterflies, and in this season, the perfume of citrus flowers! The main agricultural produce of these islands is a variety of citrus fruits: lemons, mikan, deco-oranges, natsu-mikan, you name it. Fruit orchards line the roads and for two days, we inhaled the lovely fragrance of the blossoms for hours on end! The cycling road follows in large portions the coast where we enjoyed the views of the turquoise inland sea and the neighboring islands. Other portions of the road pass through fields and citrus plantings; the less interesting stretches through towns are the minority. The most spectacular views one finds on or close to the bridges, which are at about 50 m elevation. Cycling the Shimanami Kaido is quite an amazing experience. You experience the small rural islands of the inland sea and the majestic bridges that join them in a very direct way. Even though a full day is plenty of time to do the whole tour, it is probably more fun to split the journey in two. Staying overnight on one of the islands and enjoying the local sea food (squid, squid and some more squid) is a lot of fun. The tour can be done without much prior training (I did find the slopes leading up to the bridges and the occasional hill somewhat tiring, but I only ever ride on completely flat terrain in my daily life). If you just can’t make it, you can always leave your bike at one of the terminals along the road and take the bus or ferry. If on the other hand you are more inclined towards physical exertion, longer routes and routes crossing the hills inland exist as well.
It might even be a good idea to take a more leisurely approach and stop to see the shrines and temples along the way. We only looked around in the town of Setoda, where we stopped for the night, which was maybe a bit of a pity. Whichever way of doing it you prefer, I can highly recommend the Shimanami Kaido!