Crystal-clear waters, white-sand beaches, and stunning caves: sounds like the idyllic Caribbean escape, right? Actually, it’s a hidden beach located along the northern coast of the Hyogo prefecture in Japan.
Just a short train ride from Kinosaki and three hours from Kyoto, Takeno is a beach getaway with stunningly blue waters surrounded by mountains. The small fisherman town is beautiful. And, despite its small size, there’s plenty of outdoor activities for travelers.
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The official beach season is from mid-July to mid-August; although the waters are warm enough for swimming from June to early September. But there’s plenty more to do than take a dip in the sea. You can go volcano trekking, snorkeling, hiking, or stroll through the peaceful town, where you can find small shops and traditional landscapes.
But, the most popular outdoor adventure is participating in the town’s Geopark Sea Kayaking known locally as “Geo Canoe.” The activity includes exploring the scenic views of the San’in Kaigan Geopark, which was declared a UNESCO Global Geopark in 2010, and consists of caves that can be seen by kayak in the Sea of Japan. One such cave has been dubbed the “Monster Cave” as is its said an ogre stole a piece of the stunning coastline and was punished by the Sea God for his actions, resulting in fallen rocks near the cave.
Beyond cave exploring, visitors like to paddle around into the evening since watching the sunset at sea is a particularly breathtaking sight and a little different to the one you’ll find in the Caribbean.
While there are a couple of spots to spend the night in the town itself, it’s recommended to stay in Kinosaki (one of the best onsen town in Japan). Book a room at the Relais & Châteaux Ryokan Nishimuraya Honkan, where you’ll get free access to all seven of the town’s hot springs, and then take a day trip to Takeno to see the unspoiled beach and fabled caves.