With the curtains finally drawing on summer, take a scroll through a list of both traditionally beautiful and more unorthodox beaches littered around the world. Whether you prefer sunsets, flour-like sand, or even below freezing temperatures, each paradise listed below has its own unusual characteristic that is worth a spot on your bucket list.
1. Bioluminescent Bay (a.k.a. Mosquito Bay) – Isla de Vieques, Puerto Rico
Depending on the brightness of the moon, Bioluminescent Bay provides visitors with an enlightening experience. Hidden along the Caribbean coast and only 10 miles from Puerto Rico’s main island, this bay is home to micro-organisms (plankton known as dinoflagellates) that radiate a blue-green glow in the otherwise dark waters. Interested? Be sure to hurry, as the fragile eco-system has recently been experiencing a dimming of its main attraction, likely due to interference from tourists – enjoy it gently.
2. Playa del Amor (a.k.a. Hidden Beach), Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Shrouded in mystery, no one is certain if the unique structure of this covert paradise is the result of an ancient volcanic eruption or deliberate and experimental bombings by the Mexican government that occurred in the 1960’s. Visitors can kayak into the Hidden Beach, which is also accessible through an underground water tunnel that stretches all the way to the Pacific ocean. Photogenically magical, appearing as though it has come straight off of a National Geographic cover, it’s a definite must-see for adventure-goers.
3. Giant’s Causeway – Antrim, Northern Ireland
Not necessarily known for its tropical weather or powdery white sand, the Giant’s Causeway is famous for it’s unique and mysterious landscape. The hexagonal basalt columns have drawn inspiration from artists and provoked scientific debate for centuries. This beach is steeped in folklore; many claim that it had been carved out by giant Finn McCool eons ago. Although it had been likely formed by the result of intense volcanic activity, let your imagination guide you.
4. Hot Water Beach – Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand
Within two hours of the low tide, the usually deserted Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula of New Zealand becomes a literal hotbed of tourist activity. Hot water gushes through the golden sands of the beach, allowing visitors to dig their own spa pool – no more inadvertent and awkward games of footsie. Underneath the beach lie two volcanic hot water springs that keep visitors toasty in the face of New Zealand’s cold oceanic winds.
5. Hyams Beach – New South Wales, Australia
On the southern shores of Jervis Bay lies Hyams Beach. Surrounded by clifftops and forests, Hyams stands out because of its extraordinary white sand. How white is it really? The sand covering Hyams Beach holds the Guinness World Record for the whitest sand in the world. Visitors to the record-breaking beach can enjoy surfing, sailing, kayaking, snorkeling (it’s the second most dive-worthy spot in Australia next to the Great Barrier Reef), and bragging rights to have visited a beach that really had the whitest sand on our planet.
6. Pink Sands Beach – Harbour Island, Bahamas
White sand too common for you? Try pink. Composed of coral, broken shells, bits of rock and calcium carbonate, the Pink Sand Beach of Harbour Island boasts a three-mile long stretch of the pinkest sand in the world. Microscopic shelled organisms called foraminifera inhabit the seafloors, washing up on shore to give the sand a pale pink hue. In additional to its unique setting, Pink Sands Beach offers up captivating sunsets and seasonally warm, clear waters.
7. Jokulsarlon, Iceland
Translating into “glacial river lagoon”, Jokulsarlon is a large glacial lake situated in southeast Iceland. Considered one of the greatest natural wonders of Iceland, the lagoon is often described as ‘other worldly’, as it is surrounded by luminous blue icebergs. Witness some of the most breath-taking (insert your own cold pun here) glaciers that reflect the glow of the rising or setting sun. Easily accessible from the town of Hofn, tour operators are frequently conducting snowmobile and jeep tours to visit the area. So scenic that it had been the setting for films such as Batman Begins, Die Another Day and Tomb Raider, Jokulsarlon and it’s millennium-old ice are worth a taste for the adventurous – seriously, they take you to taste 1000-year old ice.
8. Gulpiyuri Beach – Llanes, Spain
Roughly 40 meters in length, Gulpiyuri Beach is a flooded sinkhole, described as an inland beach and located a half-mile from the Cantabrian Sea. Interestingly, it is fully aligned with the tides of the Sea, as a series of underground tunnels carved out by salt water allow the water to flow freely back and forth, resulting in a fresh and diverse medley of wildlife and ever-changing experience.
9. Chandipur Beach – Odisha, India
Amidst the lush and beautiful vegetation that India has to offer, beyond the sand dunes visible from the oceanfront, there exists an interesting bay of water known as Chandipur Beach. Then, for parts of the day, it ceases to exist, as it disappears into the swells of the ocean. Twice a day, the sea water of Chandipur Beach recedes up to five kilometres. When the water recedes, visitors can explore the exposed underworld, even via a jeep ride on the ocean floor. Whereas other beaches wait for visitors to come to them, this beach proves the complete opposite.
10. Zlatni Rat Beach – Brac Island, Croatia
Reaching over a quarter of a mile into the ocean, the pebbly peninsula holds a very interesting characteristic. Supported by the changing direction and strength of the ocean currents, the peninsula frequently changes shape. Due to the fact that the beach consists of pebbles, and not sand, the waters surrounding it are crystal clear and perfect for divers. Much like the Chandipur Beach noted above, the peninsula can disappear completely if swallowed up by a high enough tide. Try not to fall asleep too close to the water.
11. Cable Beach, Broome, WA
No beach experience is complete without an unforgettable sunset – exactly what Cable Beach is famous for. Oftentimes described as ‘postcard perfect’ by first-time visitors, Cable Beach boasts the most attractive and photogenic view of the sun. Setting over the Indian Ocean rather than the Pacific, the sun often appears as a setting, orange-red globe lingering in the sky. Easily accessible and within walking distance from the town of Broome, the beach is a must-see for photographers or couples seeking that unforgettable sunset.
12. Whitehaven Beach, Whitsundays, QLD
Australia is home to a number of postcard beaches, but Whitehaven proves to be the pinnacle on the long list, standing out as one of the most perfect beaches in the world. Powder-soft, white silica sand (an extremely high-purity of sand), contrasted with the vivid blue of the waters that cover the beach, Whitehaven can only be described as true perfection. Located on Whitsunday Island, it boasts five miles of immaculate shoreline, exposed to endless rays of sun and littered with lagoons and coves that provide an extraordinary experience.
13. Panari Island – Okinawa, Japan
It’s a sad reality that some of the most beautiful beach destinations in the world are exposed to an endless slew of tourists, creating a thirsty market and resulting in various measures of exploitation by the tourism industry. Panari Island, situated in Okinawa, has managed to elude these forces. The small, very isolated beaches of this island are only accessible through private tour companies, costing a pretty penny but well worth the experience. The untouched marine life and coral reef surrounding the island are comparable to that of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Rich in natural, untouched beauty, Panari Island contains the traditionally perfect white sand and clear blue waters but lacks the nuisance of shops, resorts and swarms of tourists, ensuring a rare and pure experience.
14. ToSua Ocean Trench, Samoa
While it may not fall under the traditional definition of a beach, ToSua Trench seems like something straight out of a movie. It is located in a small village known as Lotofaga, home to a medley of ocean blowholes and hidden beaches. Otherwise regarded as a swimming hole, it has been converted into a popular swimming attraction, equipped with a ladder for convenient entry into the 30 meter deep, crystal-clear blue water. One of the most unique swimming locations in the world, ToSua is surrounded by gorgeous gardens and lush vegetation, offering an attractive experience to adventure-seekers with an assortment of nearby must-see’s.
Featured photo credit: Crashing Waves, Cabo/liezelzpineda via pixabay.com