If there’s one thing that epitomises summer holidays, it’s time on the beach.
There’s truly nothing like the holy trinity of sun, sea and sand to really unleash the holiday spirit, but if the thought of settling down for another session of sunbathing seems a little passe, you’ll be pleased to know that there are many beaches out there, with really interesting and unusual things to see and do.
Here are our 57 most unusual beach activities around the world – grab your sunnies and hit the beach like you never have before!
Weird and Wonderful
1) Trickle ‘star sand’ through your fingers on Iriomote Island, Japan
Tired of the same old grainy sand? Set foot onto this incredible island off the coast of Japan, covered in tiny, star-shaped shells, which form the top layer of its sweeping expanse.
2) Stroll along the glowing sand of Mosquito Bay, Puerto Rico
Due to an excess of vitamin B12 released by mangrove trees, this sparkling bay is one of a few places on earth where you can experience the magic of bioluminescent sand.
3) Relax on a ‘meadow beach’ in Llanes, Spain
Playa de Gulpiyuri is a beach within a beach. Situated along Spain’s northern coast in amongst a floral meadow, this small section of ocean is fed by a stream from the Atlantic – secluded, sandy and spectacular!
4) Reflect on Trinidad State Beach, USA
One of California’s most beautiful coastal regions, this breath-taking beach becomes all the more so at low tide, as the gleaming sand perfectly reflects the sky.
5) Walk on water at Chadipur Beach, India
This vast sweep of coastline in Odisha is left damp and glistening, as everyday the tide retreats an amazing three miles – walk along its expanse as though you were parting the tides.
6) Go green on Papakolea Beach, Hawaii
Wander across a sandy expanse less ordinary, and explore the world’s greenest beach. Formed over 49,000 years ago, the constant erosion of the beach’s enclosing cinder cone ensures a steady supply of olivines, giving it a bright green hue.
7) Touch icebergs at Jokulsarlon Lagoon, Iceland
For a rather more chilly day by the sea, pay a visit to Jokulsarlon Lagoon on the south coast of Iceland. On this unusual beach, visitors can wander freely amongst, and touch, real icebergs!
8) Hear the sand bark in Kauai, Hawaii
No, we haven’t gone barking mad (sorry), this idyllic Hawaiian beach really does make a racket. Due to its unusual composition, the sand emits a loud, bark-like noise when walked over, which can be quite confusing for the local dogs.
9) Walk on broken glass in Fort Bragg, USA
Make like Annie Lennox, and walk along the uniquely multi-coloured sand of Fort Bragg, made entirely of broken glass, polished by the sea over time, not worry, it is very smooth.
10) Swim the red carpet at Panjin, China
Panjin’s ‘Red Blood Beach’ is given its name due to a rare species of crimson hued grass that grows across its sandy shores.
Adventure and Exploration
11) Discover a hidden beach in Marieta, Mexico
This panoramic beach, surrounded by rare and exotic wildlife, can only be reached by swimming through a submerged tunnel.
12) Visit a Dragon’s Lair in Koekhoe Beach, New Zealand
Explore a mythical landscape of green dunes, straight out of any fairy tale. This magical beach is dotted with giant stones, smoothed by the tide over time to resemble giant dragon eggs!
13) Explore a world of islands in Halong Bay, Vietnam
This breath-taking natural wonder consists of over 2000 emerald islands rising serenely out of the azure sea. Hire a boat and sail your way through a landscape that has remained unchanged for centuries – you may even meet some of the bay’s residents, many of whom have never visited the mainland.
14) Take a submarine safari in Lanzarote, Spain
Jump aboard a submarine in Puerto Calera, and discover the underwater wonderland of marine life around the island’s coastline – seeing a beach from below.
15) Encounter a beach kangaroo in Emerald Beach, Australia
These wild ‘roos’ love nothing more than jumping around the lush, green hills that frame the beautiful Emerald Beach. If you keep your eyes open, you may well be introduced to Australia’s most famous marsupial when they pay a visit to the beach!
16) Walk amongst a penguin rookery on Boulder’s Beach, South Africa
A stunning beach made up of sheltered inlets, this stretch of South African coastline is home to a rookery of penguins, who set up home in the 1980s. A series of walkways allow you to get up-close-and-personal with the penguins in their unusual habitat.
17) Meet the wildest wildlife in Loango National Park, Gabon
The sweeping beaches that make up Loango National Park are the residence of a true plethora of wild animals, including pigs, elephants, buffalo, hippos and even gorillas – imagine sunbathing amongst that lot!
18) Save endangered turtles on Tortuguero Beach, Costa Rica
Do your bit for the environment and discover the breath-taking majesty of the leatherback turtle by joining a volunteering programme in Costa Rica. If you arrive during hatching season, you may even get to see a host of turtle infants making their way down to the sea for the first time.
19) Find Nemo in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia
It really isn’t as hard as the film makes out, simply take a snorkel or diving tour of the Great Barrier Reef, and Nemo, plus his extended family of clownfish will soon make themselves known!
20) Chill with the cows in Anjuna Beach, Goa, India
This Goa shoreline is home to a collection of beach-savvy cows, who roam freely amongst the sunbathing tourists, and may even join them!
Good Food and Soul Food
21) Dine atop a rock on Michanwi Pingwe Beach, Zanzibar
Rock Restaurant provides a truly scenic dining experience, as you enjoy a tasty local meal in a charming, thatched-roof restaurant, perched on top of a naturally flattened rock top.
22) Eat in the ocean, Bora Bora
Why not combine world-class cuisine and the gloriously azure waters of the lapping sea, as you dine half submerged in it at Bora Bora’s Ocean Restaurant? Enjoy sumptuous seafood on your plate, and vibrant sea-life swimming around your feet!
23) Experience Paddle-Board Yoga in Maui, Hawaii
Reach a new level of zen as you float over the waves and explore your balancing abilities through Maui’s paddle-board yoga classes.
24) Dig your own spa on Mercury Bay Beach, New Zealand
Why check into a pricy spa when you can create your own? This incredible stretch of sand on the east coast of New Zealand covers a geothermal hot spring – dig just a few inches deep and you’ll have your very own heated pool to relax in!
25) Shop til you drop on Punta Cana Beach, Dominican Republic
Indulge in a bit of retail therapy by the sea in Punta Cana’s oceanfront market. Selling everything from handcrafted gifts to local food produce, this is the perfect way to get your souvenir shopping done without leaving the beach.
26) Relax on a ‘sand sofa’ in the Jumeriah Dhevanafushi resort, Maldives
The Jumeriah Dhevanafushi resort in the Maldives is renowned for offering guests an unusual seating option as they dine next to the ocean, in sofas carved from the sand (and dotted liberally with candles of course).
27) Gallop through the ocean in Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Saddle up and feel the ocean spray as you ride through the azure sea on horseback in Ochos Rios!
28) Zipline along the coastline of Labadee, Haiti
Bring along your adventurous spirit (and maybe a spare pair of trunks) to soar through the mountainous landscape of Labadee Port, and experience the incredible ocean views at super-speed!
29) Go fly a kit on Jumeirah Beach, Dubai
The annual kite festival held on Jumeirah Beach is the perfect excuse to get involved in some serious flying. Take part in tournaments with the locals, or simply make the most of the panoramic scenery!
30) Sandboard the dunes of Genipabu Beach, Brazil
With its undulating sand-scapes, Genipabu Beach is the perfect location for a spot of high-octane sand boarding.
31) Tour the coast by trike in Majorca, Spain
Relive your childhood and leap aboard a yellow tricycle for a trip along the coastline of Majorca. These engine-powered trikes are a cut above your standard three-wheeler and provide truly breath-taking views out to sea.
32) Watch a beach horse race in Dublin, Ireland
If you’re a fan of betting on the ‘gee-gees’, why not swing by Dublin’s Bettystown Beach in September, and witness the annual Layton Races – cheer on your favourite from the comfort of a sandy dune!
33) Paraglide over the coast of Iquique, Chile
Paragliding is a popular way to take in the wonders of the ocean, but few coastal vistas look as good from the air as the curving sweep of Iquique in Chile. Take off from the cliffside, where miles of sandy shores are visible in either direction.
34) Hover above the ocean in Tenerife, Spain
Don a jet-pack and hover shoes as you experience the incredible thrill of flyboarding in Tenerife!
35) Experience aquabiking, Bora Bora
Try your hand at one of the most unusual watersports on offer, by climbing onto an aquabike in the Bora Bora ocean – this is the perfect way to get up-close-and-personal with the vibrant marine life.
36) Work out on the beach in the Costa del Sol, Spain
For all fitness fanatics, the southern city of Malaga in Spain has the perfect beachside solution – mini, outdoor gyms scattered along the coast that are completely free to use!
37) Dance under the full moon in Koh Phangan, Thailand
The ‘full moon parties’ that take place on Thailand’s islands are famous the world over – lace up your dancing shoes, grab a bucket and dance until the sun comes up.
38) Party around a beach bonfire in Andalucía, Spain
Andalucía’s beautiful San Juan Festival usually coincides with the summer solstice, and is a true celebration of life with towering bonfires lit along the coast, and music and dance extending well into the early hours.
39) Disco with a difference on Goa’s Parole Beach, India
Goa’s infamous party beach comes into its own with this ingenious way to enjoy your own private disco – simply slip on a pair of headphones, pick your tunes and get dancing!
40) Boogie in the ocean in Tisno, Croatia
Croatia’s incredible Garden Festival is held annually at the beginning of July, and, as its name suggests, takes place half submerged in the Adriatic along Tisno’s beautiful coast. Dance the night (and day) away to a host of internationally acclaimed artists, as the sea laps around your knees!
41) Discover ancient Mayan ruins in Tulum, Mexico
Not only is Tulum Beach one of Mexico’s most temptingly luxurious, it is also populated by a scattering of Mayan temples, some dating back to 1200AD. Wander the haunting monuments of the past, against the dramatic backdrop of the Caribbean.
42) Visit real sandcastles on Noetzie Beach, South Africa
These majestic structures will put your bucket and spade efforts to shame – the beautiful castles of Noetzie Beach are truly the stuff of legends.
43) Explore WW2 shipwrecks, Malta
Malta’s east coast is strewn with sunken battleships, due to the island’s use as a British outpost in the second world war. Dive schools will guide you through the wrecks on a scuba tour – a truly haunting exploration of the past!
Find holidays in Malta.
44) Discover Ancient Olympos in Antalya, Turkey
Trek along the verdant Antalya coast on the trail of the mystical kingdom of Olympos. These ruins date back to the second century BC, and are an incredibly preserved draw for explorers the world over.
45) Look out to sea with the heads of Easter Island, Chile
These ancient statues overlook the South Pacific from their hillside perches – feel their stony gaze as you explore the rugged beaches of this isolated paradise!
46) Step back in time on Isla de Tabarca, Costa Blanca, Spain
Costa Blanca’s sweeping coastline plays host to this beautiful island, upon which it seems time stands still. Once used as a safe refuge for Berber pirates, many of the buildings on the island have remained unchanged for at least three centuries.
47) Retrace the steps of Jimi Hendrix on Essaouira Beach, Morocco
Discover the incredible rock formation that inspired one of the greatest rock songs of all time – Essaouira Beach’s naturally formed, battlement-like structure was the stimulus for Jimi Hendrix’s classic hit, Castles in the Sand.
48) Search out smuggler’s caves in Cornwall, England
Prussia Beach on England’s south coast was a well-known site for smuggling activity and general dodgy dealings. Explore the cove’s nooks and crannies – you never know what you might find…
Just for Fun!
49) Discover the real ‘Legoland’ in Perran Sands, England
A truly stunning beach in its own right, Perran Sands became famous for a whole different reason when, in 1997, a shipment of Lego was washed up on its shores. Today this stretch of coast is popular with kids big and small, scavenging for pieces hidden within the sand!
50) Hang with the oddballs of Venice Beach, California, USA
LA’s most infamous stretch of coastline, Venice Beach is a mecca for fans of all things weird and wonderful – check out the beachfront ‘Freak Show’ as you stroll past!
51) Meet the iron men on Crosby Beach, Liverpool, England
You’d be forgiven for thinking this Merseyside beach was somewhat overcrowded, until you realise its main residents are actually over 100 cast-iron, life-size figurines. These hauntingly beautiful figures disappear at high tide, only to remerge as the sea washes out again.
52) Take a selfie with a plane on Maho Beach, Anguilla
Not one for the fainthearted, this beach is directly adjacent to the Princess Juliana airport, meaning low-flying planes are a common sight – snap the ultimate selfie as one comes in to land.
53) Watch your favourite movies on Brighton Beach, England
Nab yourself a deckchair and stock up on popcorn for Brighton’s annual beach cinema. Open for a month from the middle of July, this is the perfect chance to spend a summer watching movies, whilst enjoying the Great British weather!
54) Climb up a saucepan handle on Bondi Beach, Australia
Every year, the stretch of shoreline between Bondi and Tamarama Beach in Australia is transformed into a giant sculpture park. Works from artists around the world are included in the exhibition, and most are fully interactive!
55) Build the best sandcastle ever on Weymouth Beach, England
Grab your bucket, spade and vivid imagination, as no beach is better for the noble art of sandcastle building than this Dorset coastline – the sand is said to have the perfect consistency and grain formulation for sound sand structures.
56) Float away with a good book in the Dead Sea, Israel or Jordan
The world-renowned Dead Sea, accessible from either Israel or Jordan, is the perfect place to chill out with a summer read – get lost in your favourite novel whilst floating along on the tide!
57) (Maybe) Spot the Queen on Oldham Beach, England
The spectacular Norfolk beach of Holkham estate is a well-loved retreat for the royal family, but open to the public all year round. If you get there early enough, you might just spy HRH walking the corgis.
So, you see, there is so much more to visiting the beach than just sunbathing, but if you do want to sunbathe, sunbathe with a cow.