When I am tired of the mundane routine activities and hectic days during the week, I take a break during weekends - the best time for natural tourism. The main objective of these short-trips is to breathe the fresh air, observe the natural beauty and cycling on a peaceful road. It recharges my soul and body to become fresh and renewed again to face the challenges of the week ahead! At Ehime, you will find some beautiful small islands which are exotic and untouched. You can not only refresh your eyes but also exercise your body by hiking and cycling. Here are some of my personally recommended small islands at for a quick retreat.
Gogoshima (Gogo Islands)
Gogoshima is one of the popular spots for cycling clubs for their regular activities. Although Gogoshima is only a small island, the road here is well maintained and also smooth. Suitable for a cycle ride. To reach this place, from Matsuyama station (Shi-Eki), you can take a train to Takahama. From Takahama station, you can go to Gogo island by ferry. There are two routes provided; Takahama-Yura and Takahama-Tomari. You can choose either of them. If you want explore the islands by bicycle, you can bring your own or rent a bicycle when you arrive at the port. Fee for one bicycle per day is only 500 yen. While cycling, you can enjoy the beautiful scenery on both sides of the road. On one side is a vast stretch of water running along a beach and on the other side you can see the mandarin (mikan) gardens lined along the streets . The perfect sightseeing destination, isn't it?
Gogoshima is also a well-known mikan producer of Ehime. If you are lucky, you can join the famous Mikan festival that is usually celebrated in the first week of January.
Hojokashima is another popular for natural tourist destination. At this island, you can find innumerable camping sites. You can reserve one for yourself if you are interested to enjoy an overnight stay on nature's lap in a beautiful open space. An experience worth remembering, is'nt it?
If you are an adventure lover you can also have a wonderful time climbing up to the Setonakai National Park, an exotic forest that has a variety of trees. About 115 metres for 20 minutes will take you to the top of the park. The scenery from the top is picturesque. There is an observatory for tourists from where a panoramic view of the island is a must-see.
If you are lucky you can find a strolling deers and experience feeding them freely (of course, you have to buy some food for them from near the port). In addition, If you are interested to join a matsuri/festival, you must visit this island in early may where you will find procession of mikoshi on the boat surrounding the islands. You can watch the procession by following them on another boat.
Reaching this island is easy, first you have to go to JR-Matsuyama station and buy a ticket to Iyohojo Station. From Iyohojo, you need to walk for about 5 min. to the ferry station. The ferry ticket can be bought only for 160 yen for a round-tip. From the Ferry port to the Hojokashima port only takes around 5 minutes. So, do visit these islands if you can spare some time and refresh your mind, body and soul!