Canoeing and Kayaking in Kochi’s Pristine Rivers and Pacific Ocean

Kochi Prefecture is blessed with pristine crystal clear rivers and by the vast open waters of the Pacific Ocean, so naturally canoeing and kayaking are popular activities for both residents and visitors. There are many spots around Kochi to take to the water, so read on to find out more.

Discover the Oceans and Rivers of Kochi

Kochi Prefecture stretches in a long narrow arc from east to west across the bottom of Shikoku, and so has over 700km of coastline to explore. From beautiful sandy shores to steep cliffs, Kochi offers many different views of the Pacific Ocean. Coral reefs flourish in the warm ocean currents, and whales swim and play offshore for part of the year.

That said, the rivers are equally noteworthy. The Shimanto, Niyodo and Yoshino rivers are all noted for their clarity and clean water, making all three popular destinations for canoeing, kayaking, rafting and swimming. The river valleys are surrounded by forested mountains and occasionally crossed by stocky chinkabashi bridges, making them pristine natural havens for outdoor enthusiasts.

Canoeing Down the Pure Shimanto River

The Shimanto runs for 196km through the thickly forested mountains of western Kochi Prefecture, occasionally flanked by small villages and farmhouses. The gentle waters around the river’s downstream area are calm, well-suited for first time canoers, while those looking for rapids should head up to midstream. There are plenty of canoe schools and tour operators in the area who offer excursions for all levels. Guided tours passing under chinkabashi (submersible bridges without side rails) are particularly fun, as these unusual bridges are symbols of the Shimanto area.

You can canoe year-round here, but the best season is between May and September, when the water is highest. The Shimanto River is so beautiful, you'll want to keep it all to yourself!

Canoe Adventures on the Cobalt Niyodo River

The Niyodo River, famous throughout Japan for the clarity of its waters, is just a 30-minute drive from the center of Kochi City. While beginner-friendly canoe tours run between April and November, the best time to see the clear waters glow the enchanting color called Niyodo Blue is between mid-August to mid-January. Take a canoe out into the river and you'll feel like you are floating on a sapphire.

The clear surface of the river acts as a mirror, reflecting the sky and mountains. With only the sounds of the river and birds around you, it is easy to forget that you're not far from the city. Much like the Shimanto, chinkabashi bridges also span the Niyodo River, creating those only-in-Kochi views!

Kayaking Over the Reefs of Kashiwa Island

Located in the western area of Kochi Prefecture and connected to the Otsuki Peninsula by a bridge, Kashiwa Island is a major diving spot. With a large coral reef, about 1000 different species of fish and emerald green waters, Kashiwa is a tropical island paradise. The waters are so clear you can see straight down to the ocean floor, and many people choose clear kayaks to make the most of the water clarity and see all the colorful fish swimming below. With its relaxed island atmosphere and transparent blue seas, you'll definitely want to have a camera handy to capture this special place.

Sightseeing information and brochures are available at the Kashiwa Island Tourist Information Center, opened in February 2019.

Other Sea Kayaking Spots in Koch

With 700km of coast facing the Pacific Ocean, Kochi Prefecture has many spectacular locations to sea kayak!

The Susaki area is under an hour by car from Kochi City, and has rocky branched coastal inlets, called rias, which are great fun to explore by kayak. In the opposite direction, and just a quick train ride from the capital, is Nahari, which boasts a reef with around 70 different species of coral.