Enjoy Kochi's Breathtaking Natural Beauty Travel to the southwest of Kochi and enjoy the great outdoors

Venture a little farther out to discover unspoiled rivers, coastlines, tropical fish and corals. Here we will introduce a stunning campsite near the mouth of the famous Shimanto River, as well as snorkeling and canoeing in the clear waters around Kashiwa Island - a mecca for divers.

Camping under the stars

Some people live for camping, others not so much. But luckily the camping and caravan site Tomarotto provides an experience that has something for everyone.

Located at the mouth of the Shimanto River renowned for its pristine waters, the campsite affords fantastic views of the Kochi coastline and the Pacific Ocean. Again, almost everything can be rented at the campsite. Just be sure to pick up food and drink on route (although there is some food and drink for sale at the main reception area).

The rental tents were simple to put up and comfortable. For those wishing for a more luxurious stay, there are also rental chalets available with ocean views. Barbecue sets and cool boxes can also be rented from the reception area.

The onsen next to the campsite was perfect. After a day in the summer heat, a short walk to the onsen in the evening made all the difference. The feeling of strolling back to the campsite after bathing in the hot spring, a yuzu flavored ice cream in my hand and the stars overhead will stay with me for a long time.

It was lights out at 10pm and the camp fell quiet. Once the lights were out, the stars burst through the sky. Because it was summer, we could see the Milky Way stretch across sky directly overhead. Just seeing those stars in the night sky made me a fan of camping for life.

Rising with the Sun

A benefit of being in the southwest of Kochi is seeing the sun rise out of the ocean. There are some popular viewing spots for the ‘perfect’ sunrise, but in my opinion the sunrise from the beach just in front of the campsite was superb.

It was 5am, but a lot of people were up and about ready to catch a glimpse of the moment when the sun burst through the horizon.

As the sun rose, it looked like a drop of golden water being pulled out of the sea. It was the greatest way to start the day.

Clear waters from a clear canoe

As we neared Kashiwa Island on the southwest tip of Shikoku, the sun glistened on the sea that shifted between shades of blue and emerald green. Connected by a bridge to the mainland, this island is a mecca for scuba divers, who come to explore its clear waters full of coral and colorful marine life.

It felt like a different country, some far away tropical island. It was hard to believe we were still on Shikoku in a location accessible by car from Kochi City.

The NPO Kuroshio Jikkan Center were taking us out to experience the clear canoe and snorkeling. The group operates from inside a renovated old school building just by the jetty. We sat in front of the chalkboard and listened to an entertaining set of instructions delivered by the group leader, Kanda-san.

This NPO is active in creating a sustainable marine environment around Kashiwa Island. Their aim is to nurture an ocean where fish and marine life thrive, and as a result secure the future of hundreds of people who depend on the sea for their livelihoods. They were trying to create a sustainable balance between human activity and the sea. We were about to enjoy eco-tourism in its purest form.

We boarded the boat and soon we were cutting through the clear waters to head out to the popular local diving spot.

Two people operated each clear canoe. We had to synchronize our paddling to maneuver, but it only took a few minutes before everyone was gliding through the water with ease.

Steering the canoe was fun enough, but to be able to see the fish and coral directly below you through the see-through plastic was a real treat.

Swimming with the fishes

We had glimpsed at the fascinating world beneath the surface from our canoes. Now we were itching to dive in and be among the tropical fish and the coral. After some refreshing drinks back on the boat, we grabbed our snorkels and flippers and jumped into the water. We all wore our life jackets, so we could all enjoy the experience regardless of our swimming abilities.

Earlier instructions were followed by another short but easy to understand instruction in the water. Then we paired off and began to explore this underwater paradise.

The fish seemed accustomed to divers and hardly moved when we approached. You could almost touch them. The beauty of snorkeling was feeling like you were a part of this underwater world, swimming with the fish in their environment.

Once we grew in confidence, we practiced diving deeper. We were shown the jackknife dive where you bend at the waist and dive straight down. Our experiences were perfectly caught on the underwater camera operated by Kanda-san throughout the day.

The beautiful marine life thriving in this area was down to the conservation efforts of groups like NPO Kuroshio Jikkan Center. This was the perfect way to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

After warm showers back at the base, we had to go straight back to Kochi City. But for those with a little more time, I would recommend exploring some of the seafood restaurants in the area.

(Visited in August 2016)