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Shimanami Kaido Guide: 1-Day Bike & Ferry Itinerary for Beginner Cyclists

Shimanami Kaido is a 70-km bikeway that starts in Onomichi on the main island of Honshu and goes all the way to Imabari on Shikoku Island. The cycling route connects six islands in the Seto Inland Sea via five bridges and is considered one of Japan’s best bikeways.

I first learned about the Shimanami Kaido cycling route in 2017 when I spent one day riding on the bikeway alone. In 2024, I returned to Onomichi and found updated information for bike rentals and ferry schedules, so I decided to take another solo bike trip.

Ideally, you need two days to bike from Onomichi to Imabari and back. But if you can only spare one day from your itinerary, I would still recommend cycling the Shimanami Kaido bike route. It is a fun day trip where you can cycle halfway and return to Onomichi via a ferry.

Keep reading, and I’ll show you all the details on where to rent a bike in Onomichi and how to cycle the Shimanami Kaido bikeway and see the best highlights in one day.

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Shimanami Kaido cycling route: what you need to know

Before you start your cycling journey, take a look at my post on everything you need to know before going to Japan. I included a lot of travel information, including tips on how to get around Japan and other travel tips.

Here are a few additional tips for cycling the Shimanami Kaido route:

  • The entire trail from Onomichi to Imabari is about 70km, and if you are a beginner bike rider, it will take you eight to ten hours to complete.
  • You must observe Japanese traffic rules – no alcohol, headphones, or phones.
  • Keep on the left side of the road and stick to the car lane.
  • You must wear a helmet.
  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes for a full day of cycling.
  • Bring sunscreen and a hat for sun protection.
  • You don’t need to be an advanced cyclist to enjoy the Shimanami Kaido (I’m a beginner and not great on bikes, and I enjoyed my time thoroughly)
  • Setouchi Shimanami Kaido International Cycling Event is the largest cycling event in Japan, and it takes place every October. Register and cycle with 3,500 people.

Shimanami Kaido 1-Day Itinerary: 3 Options

Ideally, you need two days to complete the bikeway, i.e. cycle from Onomichi to Imabari, stay overnight and ride back to Onomichi the next day.

But if you only have one day, you can still enjoy the bikeway by combining different modes of transportation. Here are several ways for any independent solo travellers to see the Shimanami cycle bike route in one day:

  1. Day trip from Onomichi to Imabari by bicycle and back by bus – rent a bike in Onomichi, cycle to Imabari, return the bicycle there, take a highway bus to Mukaihigashi bus stop on Mukaishima Island, walk 17 minutes to the pier and take a local ferry to Onomichi.
  2. Day trip from Onomichi to Ikuchi Island and back with a bicycle – rent a bicycle in Onomichi, cycle half of the bikeway to the third island, Ikuchi Island and cycle back to Onomichi the same day.
  3. Day trip from Onomichi to Ikuchi Island with a bike and return to Onomichi by ferry – rent a bicycle in Onomichi, cycle half of the bikeway to the third island, Ikuchi Island, and return the bike before hopping on the ferry from Setoda Port to Onomichi.

As a beginner cyclist, I chose option #3 because I want to experience parts of the bikeway, but I’m unsure about my physical ability. Riding a bike partway and taking a ferry back would be fun. Therefore, my itinerary will describe my day on the Shimanami bikeway with option #3.

Where to rent a bicycle for cycling Shimanami Kaido bikeway in 2024

There are several bike rentals in Onomichi City. There are at least two on Hondori Shopping Street and the Giant Store at Hotel Cycle. 

However, I chose to rent a bike from the Onomichi Port Bicycle Rental Terminal at the Ekimae-Kowan Car Park because I could return the bike at another location at no additional charge and take a ferry back to Onomichi.

Here are the prices:

  • ¥3,000 a day for a regular bike
  • ¥4,000 a day for an electric-assist bike
  • ¥8,000 a day for an eBike

You can reserve a bike from the Shimanami Bike Rental website or rent it when you get there. If you rent it there, scan the QR code and follow the prompts to rent a bicycle.

A deposit is not required. And the price includes a helmet (which you must wear).

Shimanami Kaido Map: Bike Route + Ferry Route

At the Onomichi Port Bicycle Rental Terminal, I saw a map indicating the bike route (blue line) and ferry route (orange line). I found the same map online, and I’m sharing it below.

The map also indicates the network of bike rental offices, which are numbered from 1 to 10. For my one-day itinerary, I rented a bike from location #1 and returned it to location #4.

Ferry Schedule for Shimanami Kaido

There is a ferry schedule at Onomichi Port Bicycle Rental Terminal and at Setoda Port. Below is a photo taken at the Setoda Port. It costs ¥1,300 from Setoda Port to Onomichi. The ferry schedule is on the left side.

Ferries allow bicycles on board (if you rent one from other places in Onomichi), costing ¥500.

Shimanami Kaido Itinerary Summary & Map

If you only have one day to see Shimanami Kaido, I highly recommend choosing the third option: renting a bicycle and biking from Onomichi City to Ikuchij Island, then taking a ferry back from Setoda Port to Onomichi. This is an excellent itinerary for beginners.

Here is the summary for my solo Shimanami Kaido one-day itinerary:

  1. Start your journey in Onomichi
  2. Rent a bicycle from Onomichi Port Bicycle Rental Terminal
  3. Take a local ferry to Mukaishima Island 
  4. Cross Innoshima Bridge to Innoshima Island
  5. Cross Ikuchi Bridge to Ikuchi Island 
  6. Try Dolce Ice Cream 
  7. Return the bike to Setoda-cho Tourist Information Centre
  8. Visit Kosanji Temple
  9. See Miraishin no Oka 
  10. Have lunch at Shiomachi Shopping Alley
  11. Take a short hike up Choonzan Park
  12. Take a ferry from Setoda Port to Onomichi Port Terminal

For your reference, I pinned all the places along the Shimanami cycle path on the interactive map.

Shimanami Kaido One Day Itinerary: Bike + Ferry Option

1. Start your journey in Onomichi

Onomichi City is a small port town 40km east of Hiroshima in Hiroshima Prefecture. It is known for its literary roots, temples, cats, and cycling the Shimanami Kaido bikeway.

Ideally, stay overnight in Onomichi and start your Shimanami Kaido one-day tour around 8am the next day. I recommend staying at Hotel Beacon Onomichi. The room is spacious and comfortable. It is located above Onomichi Station and a few minutes from the bike rental.

2 & 3. Rent a bicycle and take a local ferry to Mukaishima Islandl

Before renting your bike, pick up any snacks and drinks at Lawson, a convenience store located north of the bike rental. There are also other convenience stores along the bikeway if you need to refuel.

Then, pick up your rental bicycle at Onomichi Port Bicycle Rental Terminal at the Ekimae-kowan Car Park at the harbour. 

Once you have your bicycle and helmet, bike one minute over to Onomichi Port and take the local ferry to Mukaishima Island. It costs ¥110.

Once on Mukaishima Island, find the blue line on the ground and start cycling. It tells you which direction you are going in and the distance you have travelled.

Onomichi Port Bicycle Rental Terminal Address: 5-11 Nishigoshocho, Onomichi | Hours: 7am-7pm summer; 8am-6pm December to February 

4. Cross Innoshima Bridge to Innoshima Island

Once you are on Mukaishima Island (the first island along Shimanami Kaido), the blue line will take you around the perimeter of the island until you reach the first bridge, Innoshima Bridge. At 1,270m, the suspended bridge has two levels: the top is for vehicles, and the bottom, inside the bridge girder, is for bicycles and pedestrians.

To get to Innoshima Bridge, follow the signs for the bike path that winds up the hill. The path starts after you pass the bridge and is to the left. The incline is gentle and not super difficult.

There is a toll booth at the beginning of the bridge. The bridge toll for bicycles is free until March 31, 2026

5. Cross Ikuchi Bridge to Ikuchi Island

Continue riding along the bike path on Innoshima Island. Unfortunately, there isn’t much to see when you are riding around the island’s perimeter. There are a few convenience stores and small towns.

The bike path continues around the perimeter of Innoshima Island until you reach the second bridge, Ikuchi Bridge. At 790m, the cable bridge has several lanes, a few of which are for cars, and the lane on the outside is for bicycles and pedestrians.

Like going up Innoshima Bridge, you must cycle up a sloped winded path to Ikuchi Bridge. Again, there is a toll booth. You don’t have to pay if you are riding a bicycle.

After you pass Ikuchi Bridge, the bike path will take you around the north side of Ikuchi Island. Continue cycling on the marked path and follow the signs for Kosanji Temple.

6. Try Dolce Ice Cream

Keep following the bike path; eventually, you’ll see several shops on the left side on the north end of Ikuchi Island. The far one is Dolce Ice Cream.

Get a gelato before continuing onwards. They have many different flavours, but you should try something citrusy as the area is famous for Setouchi lemons.

The ice cream parlour has outdoor and indoor seating areas. Park your bicycle at the bike rack and enjoy a well-deserved break.

7. Return the bike to Setoda-cho Tourist Information Center

By the time you reach the Setoda-cho Tourist Information Center, you will have completed 30km! That’s quite a bit of distance, especially for a beginner!

You can cycle around the area more before returning the bike. The info centre closes at 5pm.

But if you’re ready to get off the bike, find the tourist info centre and return your bicycle. You know you’re at the bike rental when you see the giant lemons. Show them the QR code and return your helmet and bicycle.

Address: 200-5 Setodachosawa, Onomichi | Hours: 7am-5pm

8. Visit Kosanji Temple

Not far from the bike rental is Kosanji Temple. The temple complex has twenty buildings where a dedicated son built to pay homage to his mother. Many of these structures were modelled after other well-known structures in Japan, so they are in various styles from different periods.

Wander around the temple premises and see the colourful Choseikaku Villa, which was once a residence, the five-storey Gojunoto Pagoda, a 15m tall Kannon statue, and the Cave of 1000 Buddhas and walk through a 350m long underground passage with artwork depicting tortures in a Buddhist Hell. 

Besides admiring the architecture, the Kosanji Museum is also on the premises, displaying handicrafts, paintings and sculptures.

Address: 553-2 Setodacho Setoda, Onomichi | Hours: 9am-5pm | Admission: ¥1,400

9. See Miraishin no Oka

At the back of Kosanji Temple is Miraishin no Oka, also known as The Hill of Hope. Here, 3,000 tons of Italian Carrara marble covering 5,000 square meters are displayed.

Miraishin no Oka was designed by an Italian sculptor. White marble is stacked in different ways to create a giant platform on top of a hill. In the middle of all the abstract statues is a main structure called the Tower of Light. The composition is based on a familial theme representing peace on earth and hopes for the future.

Visit this quirky spot for fun Instagram photos and an aerial view of the surrounding area.

10. Have lunch at Shiomachi Shopping Street

Just west of Kosanji Temple is Shiomachi Shopping Street, a 600m alley with restaurants and shops lining both sides of the nostalgic street. This is an excellent spot to grab lunch after a long bike ride.

There are a handful of cafes and restaurants on the shopping street. I had a quick lunch at Aori Restaurant (11am-2pm; closed Tuesdays & Wednesdays). They specialize in squid, so I had the squid tempura rice bowl. It was so delicious!

There are also a few shops selling food souvenirs. This is where you can buy many types of Setouchi lemon desserts. If you need a caffeine fix, there is also a coffee shop at the west end of Shiomachi Shopping Street.

11. Take a short hike up Choonzan Park

Around midway of Shiomachi Shopping Street, a stairway on the north side will lead you up to Choozan Park. The path passes Honenji Temple and circles around the perimeter of the hill.

At the top is Kojoji Temple, a Three-storied Pagoda and a view of Setodasuido Strait and the Setoda Port area. The hike takes maybe 10 minutes or so. It is not hard at all.

When you are ready to descend the hill, find the stairway on the west side. This route is closer to Setoda Port and passes the Ikuchi Shrine and Mantokuji Temple.

FYI – Google Maps doesn’t show the route, but if you have the Maps.me app, the hiking route is the dotted lines. Even if you don’t have the app, follow the path, and you’ll get to the top.

12. Take a ferry from Setoda Port to Onomichi Port Terminal

Setoda Port is at the west end of Shiomachi Shopping Alley. It costs ¥1,300 to take the ferry back to Onomichi Port Terminal, next to Onomichi Port Bicycle Rental Terminal. The leisure boat ride is about 45 minutes.

Be at Setoda Port about 15 minutes before the ferry leaves. The last boat back to Onomichi is at 5 p.m.

How are you experiencing the Shimanami Kaido bikeway?

It might feel intimidating to ride the Shimanami Kaido bikeway as a beginner cyclist, but I’ve done it twice, and I don’t normally ride a bike!

For my first solo bike trip on the Shimanami Kaido bikeway, I rode my bike to Setoda Port and back to Onomichi. It was tough (on the behind), but somehow, it was still fun.

On my second bike trip, I rode the same bikeway to Setoda Port but took the ferry back. I like this itinerary more because I didn’t feel rushed riding my bike there and back. Plus, I had more time to explore the area.

I love exploring off the beaten path and hope you find this post informative so you can plan your itinerary and bike the Shimanami Kaido bikeway. Let me know how you will see Japan’s best bikeway in the comments.

Thank you for reading my Shimanami Kaido itinerary

You might also like these other posts on solo travel in Japan:

Introduction to Japan

Chugoku region

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About Author

Hi, my name is Queenie, and I've been a solo traveller for 20+ years and currently based in Hong Kong. Follow me on my adventures through Instagram and my blog!

10 Comments

  • Stephanie
    June 16, 2020 at 11:18 am

    Thank you for this post! It is so nice to read about something in Japan besides the same handful of cities that every tourist visits. We lived in Fukuoka for more than 2 years and spent most of our time exploring Kyushu, but we can’t wait to go back and see more of Japan! Pinning your guide for future reference.

    Reply
    • queenie mak
      June 17, 2020 at 10:49 am

      Hi Stephanie, thank you for your comment! While I really like visiting the big cities in Japan, I also like the little places that nobody knows about. It feels like a different world! I also really liked Fukuoka and would love to go back! Hope we all get to go back to Japan soon!! Thanks again and hope you are well 🙂

      Reply
  • Mohammad el kdaim
    March 21, 2021 at 2:42 pm

    Thank you for the great read 🙂 if you get the chance to do it again then you really should do the full length. The last bridge before Imabari is amazing and Imabari itself is quite nice place. I spent 2 days cycling between the islands and still found it not enough. It’s one of the best cycling trips i have ever had.

    Reply
    • queenie mak
      March 23, 2021 at 11:59 am

      Hi Mohammad, honestly, it was a last-minute decision to cycle the bikeway! I was travelling through Japan and stumbled upon Onomichi. I planned to keep travelling and only had a day, but I tried to make the most of it. If I have to do it all over again, I definitely want to cycle the entire bikeway! Thank you for your kind message!

      Reply
  • Isadora
    January 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Hi, thank you for the post. I´ve been reading about shimanami Kaido and I still don´t get if you can back de bicycle at Imabari so you don´t have to ciclye all over the route again back to Onomichi. I hope you can help me 🙂 Thank you!

    Reply
    • queenie mak
      January 27, 2023 at 5:35 pm

      Hi Isadora, when I did my research, I found out that you can rent a bike in Onomichi and cycle it all the way to Imabari and then take the ferry back. Is that what you’re looking for?

      Reply
  • Arvin
    May 20, 2023 at 10:56 am

    Hello,

    Firstly, loved your post, thank you so much, I can’t wait to bike this in October!

    Similar to what I think Isadora asked but I noticed at the start of your post you had the other single day option of “Day trip with bicycle and ferry – rent a bicycle in Onomichi, cycle to Imabari, return the bicycle there and take a ferry back to Onomichi”.

    I am leaning towards this option, but just wanted to confirm that there is a bus or ferry that would be able to take us back to Onomichi after we are finished and arrived at Imabari City. Also, do you know if we could take our bikes back with us on the bus/ferry or if we would have to return them at Imabari City.

    Thank you!

    Arvin

    Reply
    • queenie mak
      May 20, 2023 at 8:46 pm

      Hi Arvin,
      Thank you so much for your comment.
      As for your question, it was an option when I took my trip but perhaps it has changed? I was digging a bit and it looks like the return ferry option involves 2 separate ferries, with cycling or bus in between and some of the ferries do not allow bikes on the ferry. Plus, it looks the ferry schedule is not frequent – so it does not seem like a good option at this moment.
      The other option is to take 2 buses: highway bus from Imabari Station to Innoshima Ohashi bus stop, then local bus from same stop to Onomichi Station.
      I’ll update my post to reflect the new info – I’m so sorry I don’t have better news. I hope this doesn’t damper your cycling plans in October.

      Reply
  • Amanda Smith
    October 19, 2023 at 12:57 am

    Hello! Just thought I would say what I didlast year and am doing again next month ls to get a bus from Fukuyama to Imabari- they run fromright in front of the station- and stay the night. It is only 5 or 6000 yen a night for a room in a business hotel. Imabari castle is great to see if you have time. Then rent a bike at thexplace in front of the station – book in advance online, especially on weekends they book out quite early though it says they have a few available on the by I wouldn’t want to risk it. Then bike to Onomichi and return your bike. If you are doingit in two days I recommend Shimanami I- Link Hostel in Omishima which is very clean and has delicious dinners and breakfasts and is near a retro hotspring facility in a building like a dome to sooth your aching muscles!

    Reply
    • queenie mak
      October 19, 2023 at 12:12 pm

      Hi Amanda,
      Thanks so much for all the info! When I did the bike trip, it was a last minute decision which is why I only had one day to bike around the islands. Had I known more I would’ve loved to take my time around the area and see more. I would love to see Imabari!
      I’ll keep this in mind when I plan for my next trip back. Thanks for sharing such great info! Enjoy your trip next month! 🙂

      Reply

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