Let’s be honest – a summer holiday wouldn’t be the same without a beach. A shimmering sky, crystal blue waters and hundreds of metres of golden sand; the mere thought of these elements conjures up an idyllic image of the perfect beach holiday.
However, if you think you’ve seen and done it all when it comes to beach holidays, think again. A beach isn’t just sea and sand. Around the world you’ll find beaches which amaze and amuse, inspire and intrigue; beaches that are luxurious, and others more quirky than beautiful, yet absolutely stunning all the same.
Here are a few of the more unusual, and memorable…
Playa de Gulpiyuri, Spain
Gulpiyuri Beach is a charming little natural wonder, less than 50m in length, and virtually hidden in Asturias, Spain. It’s positioned around 100m away from the Cantabrian Sea, and its ‘sea’ has been created because of a series of underground tunnels that supply it with water. It’s not that easy to find and some visitors just tend to stumble upon it!
Havelock Island, Andaman Islands
There can’t be many beaches in the world that could see you come face to face with elephants wandering around at the edge of the tide, but Havelock Island – located in the Bay of Bengal and accessible by flights from India – is one of them. This can be the ideal spot for a peaceful escape.
Glass Beach, California
Most beaches are about the sand, however Glass Beach is slightly different. The beach is located in MacKerricher State Park, near to Fort Bragg, and features coves of ‘sea glass’ which sparkle in several different colours. The glass is created after debris in the sea was exposed to weather and worn down.
Playa del Amor, Mexico
More commonly known as the Hidden Beach of Mexico, this amazing creation is located on one of the Marieta Islands. Beneath a huge hole on the surface of the land lies a beach, which is invisible from the outside and can only be reached by a long tunnel.
Rabbit Beach, Italy
For a genuinely remote beach, Rabbit Island – or Isola dei Conigli, to use its Italian name – has a claim as one of the very best. Located on the tiny island of Lampedusa, it officially belongs to Italy but is over 100 miles away from Sicily and is nearer to North Africa than the Italian mainland.
It is a protected island because of the loggerhead sea turtles which exist nearby and Lampedusa itself is popular with holidaymakers because of the impressive sandy beaches on the eastern and southeastern shores and with numerous coves to explore.
Bora Bora has been described as ‘the stuff of dreams’ and there’s certainly something magical about the scene that welcomes holidaymakers to this volcanic Polynesian island. Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu tower over a large blue lagoon, over which luxurious overwater bungalows stand.
One of the most admired beaches is Matira Beach – a mile-long stretch of white sand that slopes into a shallow pool that’s perfect for snorkeling, swimming and paddling. It’s a mini area of paradise.
Estonia isn’t famed for its beaches but a visit to one of them is still worth experiencing for something a little bit different. This is Paldiski; as the image shows make sure you dress appropriately as the average water temperature throughout the year is a mere 8°C!
The beach itself is not the traditional one of soft golden sand but instead is rocky and wild – a visit here is less about sunbathing and more about striking coastline; don’t forget the camera!
Turtle Island, Borneo
The Turtle Islands Park, in the Sulu Sea north of Borneo, is dedicated to rescuing endangered turtles in the area. Visitors can see turtles laying eggs, and newly born turtles venturing into the sea for the first time. Some beach experience!
Puerto de Mogan, Gran Canaria
The Canary Islands are blessed with many superb beaches and Puerto de Mogan is a must see. In and around the beach itself is a network of canals and bridges, which is why the area is sometimes known as Little Venice. As holidaymakers know all too well, it’s the extra features that can make a visit to otherwise conventional beaches stand out – this intricate sculpture took nine hours to make and featured tea lights inside.
With a reputation for long, bitterly cold winters, Chicago isn’t automatically considered a prime beach location. But think again, for the city has an impressive beach scene in the summer with some 26 miles of sand. Montrose Beach and Oak Street Beach, which is virtually right on the doorstep of downtown and pictured here, are among the best.
Popeye Village, Malta
If you’re holidaying in Malta with children, a visit to Popeye Village Malta surely has to be on the agenda. The beach and the resort was used as a set for the 1980 movie ‘Popeye’, which starred Robin Williams. Today, some 36 years on, the group of wooden buildings – which is also known as Sweethaven Village – is one of Malta’s biggest tourist attractions.
Legzira Beach, Morocco
Legzira Beach is stunning and arguably Morocco’s most unique beach, discretely positioned between the towns of Sidi Ifni and Mirleft. Its key features are the two huge stone arches, formed after decades of erosion and strikingly red in colour.
Harbour Island, Bahamas
It might not be the largest – Harbour Island is approximately 3.5 miles long and 1.5 miles wide – but it’s definitely among the prettiest; the sand is coloured pink! It’s also known as Pink Sands Beach, for obvious reasons.
75 Mile Beach, Australia
No prizes for guessing how long this expanse of beach covers… yes, that’s correct – it’s 75 miles long! The distance is covered by some serious highlights too, including the Maheno shipwreck, a liner that was driven ashore during a cyclone in 1935, Champagne Pools and a landing strip for light aircraft.
Reunion Island, Indian Ocean
Reunion is a remote island in the Indian Ocean, located between Madagascar and Mauritius. There is a volcano-made beach in the town of Piton Sainte-Rose, which was created when the Piton de la Fournaise volcano erupted in 1977; the sand is black and green in colour. The green comes from ground-up precious gems, called olivine, in the rock.
Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
For adventurous, active sorts, Ha Long Bay in Vietnam is definitely somewhere to put on your list! There are more genteel things to do, like a leisurely cruise or helicopter ride over its limestone formations and floating villages, but the bay is perfect for diving, kayaking and a host of other watersports. Ideal for exploring undiscovered and deserted coves.
Three Cliffs Bay, Wales
This is one of the most picturesque beaches in the Gower peninsula region of Wales – popular with climbers and walkers for its stunning views and also because it’s possible to walk underneath the cliffs by accessing an archway. Stepping stones allow visitors to cross the river. Not a place for swimming or watersports – the current can be dangerous – instead it’s a site to take in the breathtaking scenery.
The Baths, British Virgin Islands
The Baths is the most famous beach on Virgin Gorda, a small island of approximately eight square metres and a part of the British Virgin Islands. The beach has hidden caves and pools, tucked away alongside giant granite boulders – possibly the result of volcanic activity. A popular excursion is a walk along trails to nearby Devil’s Bay Beach.