What comes to mind when you imagine a beach? Perhaps white sand and turquoise waters wrapped around a few cliffs. But the truth is Mother Nature has no boundaries, and some of the beaches she’s created are beyond your wildest dreams. From onyx sand to terrain that rumbles like an oncoming train as you walk, to say these coasts are out of the ordinary would be an understatement. Here are 10 of the most extraordinary beaches in the world:
Now you see it, now you don’t. Every day Chandipur’s waterline can recede as much as five kilometres at a time. The tide comes in slow so that you can literally walk across the seabed.
Rainbow Beach, Australia
According to Yiningie legend, this beach got its prism of colour from a rainbow spirit who battled an evil tribesman and fell onto the rocky cliffs. Scientifically speaking, Rainbow Beach’s stunning multi-coloured dunes actually come from rich minerals in the sand.
Vík Beach, Iceland
Iceland’s southernmost village is home to a bay that could be out of a sci-fi movie set. Volcanic rock has turned the sand obsidian black, with large chunks of ice regularly washing up on the shore from a nearby glacier. Don’t plan on sunbathing here, though – the average summer temperature is only around 13 degrees Celsius.
Big Major Cay, Bahamas
It may be impossible to fly with pigs, but at least here you can swim with them. This uninhabited island is home to feral swine that can often be seen happily floating around. It’s said they were dropped off here years ago by sailors who intended to eat pork for dinner, but never returned. The pigs survived from food dumped by passing ships, and now they are fed by nearby locals and tourists.
Barking Sands, Hawaii
Now, for a new meaning to the saying “my dogs are barking”. Every footstep along the sand of Kauai shore sounds just like a howl. Scientists say its because the grains are perforated with small echo chambers that create noise when rubbed together, for example by the wind or from being touched. Barking Sands is said to reach 105 decibels, as loud as a machine or a passing train!
Jurassic Coast, England
This World Heritage Site along the English Channel spans 180 million years of geological history. The coastline reveals everything from pre-historic fossils to Jurassic, Triassic and Cretaceous cliffs.
Seagaia Ocean Dome, Japan
Bad weather is never a worry at the Seagaia Ocean Dome in Miyazaki, Japan. The temperature is always 30 degrees underneath the world’s largest retractable roof. You can lounge on the artificial sand, even gazing at a volcano drooling out hot flame – but don’t expect to get a suntan.
Glass Beach, California
This beach near Fort Bragg, California is covered in sea glass – from garbage dumping at the coastline! Over the years, the waves have miraculously broken down everything from glass to household appliances into smooth and tiny coloured “pebbles”.
Tunnel Beach, New Zealand
Handsome sandstone cliffs, rock arches and caves make this beach near Dunedin, New Zealand a very hot tourist spot. It’s known for a gigantic hand-carved tunnel commissioned by a rich politician in the 1870’s.
As Catedrais Beach, Spain
In comparison, the breathtaking arches of As Catedrais Beach (in English, Beach of Cathedrals) have been totally crafted by Mother Nature herself. Over the years, these nooks and chambers were formed as the Cantabrian Sea washed away at the rock. The caves can only be truly explored during low tide, and it’s believed they could eventually collapse. Go see while you still can!