Cycling is an excellent way to explore Itoshima, and for those living in Fukuoka City, it’s so close you can even ride your own bicycle there and back. Alternatively, for those who prefer to rent bicycles, there are various options available, from regular push-pedal bikes to electric-assisted bicycles, and now, top-quality full-size e-bikes. E-bikes are equipped with powerful motors and long-lasting batteries, allowing riders to travel further and climb hills with ease. They are an excellent choice for those riding in small groups with different levels of physical fitness, enabling slower riders to keep up. Moreover, e-bikes are a more environmentally friendly and quieter alternative to cars, taxis, buses, and motorcycles.
So with these e-bikes mind, I designed and tested a course that takes advantage of the full-size rental top-of-the-line Specialized brand e-bikes supplied by Itoshima EcoTourism a professional e-bike outfitter located in front of Meoto Iwa, one of Itoshima’s most iconic spots and along the beautiful Futamigaura beach. The bikes come with helmets, locks, and an iPhone with maps for easy navigation – everything you need.
This course is approximately 42 km long and takes around three hours to complete without stopping, but riders are encouraged to take their time to enjoy the gorgeous scenery, the sea breeze, and local foods, so I’d suggest between six and seven hours.
It’s important to note that while e-bikes are powerful, this is still a physically demanding course, and we only recommend it for people in good physical condition with some cycling experience. If you’re up for the challenge, book a bicycle and enjoy an unforgettable day of cycling and exploration in Itoshima!
Time: 7-hour rental (10:00 – 17:00) approximately 3 hours riding time
Rental fee: ¥5,500 (puls tax)
Distance: 42.0 km approximately
Areas: Futamigaura, Shima-Nogita, Shima-Keya, Shima-Kishi, Shima-Idawara, Shima-Yoshida, and Shima-Sakurai
Start and end: Itoshima Eco Tourism / 糸島半島エコツーリズム協会
2195-3 Kota, Nishi-ku, Fukuoka City
From Itoshima Ecotourism Association, head west. In less than a minute, you’ll see one of Itoshima’s best-known sites, Meoto Iwa or “Wedding Rocks,” located just off the shore behind the white Shinto shrine toori (gates). The rocks and shrine gates belong to Sakurai Shrine, located inland and our last stop on the way back. You just started, but it’s worth getting off for a quick snapshot. Get back on and enjoy more seaside riding before turning inland.
Golf Course and Hill Pass
After turning right, we begin the first of two hill climbs but do not worry, you’re on an e-bike, and the views are fantastic. Soon on your right, you’ll see the gorgeous Itoshima Seaside Golf Club featuring over 2,000 palm trees. Is this Hawaii or Japan? Keep climbing up, and near the top is a tiny and unpaved parking area. Catch spectacular views looking back over the golf course and towards Futamigaura from here. The climb continues for a few minutes and takes you past a gated residential community. Eventually, the descent begins. Be careful, as you will pick up speed quickly. While few cars travel this road, you never know when one will, and the road is narrow. Go slow and be safe!
That road empties out at an intersection, and on the left is Thalia Coffee, a popular coffee roaster and cafe. It’s a great place to take a break and grab a drink and a donut – you earned it! There’s indoor and outdoor seating, washrooms, bike racks, and even push-bike rentals. From here, continue west. Very soon on your left is the newly opened Yagi Tacos inside a blue-painted container. You’re in luck if you prefer bread, pastries, and other baked goods. The bakery in the back of restaurant Current has a good selection and is ideal for take-out to enjoy later down the route. Almost next door is the Rex Burgers food truck, and still further along for more tacos, taco rice, and chicken, you can’t go wrong at Hinode.
Continue on Route 54 from Nogita westwards towards Keya. Trees between the road and the beach block most of the view, but the sea is there! You’ll pass the Kyea Golf Course on your left. And then, at the first big intersection, you see Loiter Market Sorbert, a popular gelato stand inside a silver airbus trailer. We’ll take the old narrow road from here through a residential area. Take it easy, as the narrow road can be covered in sand in some parts. But we love it for its old-town atmosphere. It bottoms out in front of Taiso Shrine. Get off your bikes and walk towards the sea to look at the sides of Ooto Shinkutu jutting into the sea. Or take a quick jaunt up to Keya Observation Deck inside the Totoro forest in Keyanooto Park. Thirty minutes is enough to hike there and back. On weekends a small farmer’s market is open near the shrine, and there’s a sumo ring, which is fun to look at, but please do not climb onto it. Get back on your bikes, follow the road past Keya’s inner fishing port, and then on to an intersection where you’ll see Goofy Burgers, another recommendable burger joint. Not on our course, but if you were to head west (right) from Goofy Burgers, the sandy swimming beach of Keya is nearby.
Hill climb to Mt. Tateishi
Soon after leaving Keya town, turn right onto a narrow road that starts out flat, but the climb begins after passing a large pond. As the first hill-climb on this course, this is another narrow and steep road. Not many cars use it, so they come from out of nowhere when they appear. So be careful and watch for twigs, leaves, and small rocks on the road. Ride with care, especially downhill. At the top of the climb, you’ll see a small clearing wide enough for just a few cars. This is the Mt. Tateishi Trailhead, where you can enjoy a spectacular view of Keay beach, Keya town, and beyond. If you have the time and energy, the 20-minute climb up to the summit of Tateishi is even better! After grabbing a few snaps, it’s all downhill, and once again, be careful to control your speed and look out for oncoming cars.
Shima-Keya to Kishi Port
The hill road bottoms out at the sea and onto Sunset Road. Turn left and follow this seaside road until you reach the town of Kishi Port. Take your time; the views along the way are worth soaking up. Grilled oysters and outer seafood are offered inside the oyster huts in the winter. Yum!
Turn left off the main road, and soon you will see a few eateries on the left. On the right-hand side is the TAK Cheese factory and shop, where you can sample their handmade cheeses and shop. It’s delicious stuff! Continue on, and then on the left is Itoshima Nouen Strawberry Farm. You can pick your own strawberries in the winter and early months of spring. From here, our route takes you through some quiet countryside and farm fields. Enjoy!
Then we follow Route 506 for a few kilometers.
Shima-idawara to Shima-yoshida
There are more cars on this road, so be careful. After passing the Ichigo Cafe Tannal, turn right, and this quieter road takes you through some lovely farmland. Just before a tiny bridge, we take a right onto a narrow but still paved country road and follow a stream.
We end up in the area of Sakurai. Turn left and head towards the next landmark, Kissa Jun, a retro-style cafe run by a lovely woman. It’s an excellent choice for coffee and sweets or a light meal. From there, follow our route, and you’ll pass through toori (shrine gates) and then through a quiet residential area. At the top of the hill, you’ll see parking areas for Sakurai Shrine on the left. Park your bikes there and then walk in to see the shrine. Look for stairs heading into a wooded area on the far side of the property. Follow that for a sublime setting!
Back to Starting Point
From the shrine, the road winds down and comes to the same intersection we turned to begin our first hill climb earlier in the day. This time, turn right and head back along the coastal road for one last sea view. After passing the Meo to Iwa rocks, you are back at Itoshima Ecotourism Association. Done! What a ride, eh?
Itoshima EcoTourism E-bike Rentals – More information
Reserving and paying for the e-bike rentals is done through the Itorito website and app. Currently, the app is only available in Japanese, but an English version is in the works. If you don’t speak Japanese, ask a friend who can help you with the booking. The app allows you to make a reservation well in advance and complete the payment by the day before your ride. The e-bikes are available in two frame sizes, S (for 150-170 cm) and M (for 170-190 cm). I’m 180 cm and after adjusting the seat height the M size was OK, but taller people might feel a bit cramped. The same e-bike rentals are also available at two other locations: Itoshima Tourism Information Center, which is next to the JR Chikuzen Maebaru Station, and the Settle Glocal Hotel Itoshima. However, please note that the bike must be returned to the same location where you began the rental and this course assumes starting and ending at Futamigaura.
P.S. For those looking for an even longer route (approximately 78km), and one that begins in Fukuoka City, here is a link: https://visitfukuoka.jp/cycletrail/cycleroot/itoshima.html
Other day trip by Itoshima Now
• Itoshima on Foot: Itoshima on Foot: Enjoy the ocean, mountains, farmland and beaches at a leisurely pace
• Itoshima by Ebike: Itoshima by E-Bike! Country Roads, Seaside Roads, and Amazing Views (this page)
• Itoshima by Car: Itoshima Revealed: Exploring Local Artisans And Stunning Landscapes By Car