Nobody can argue that the sun and the ocean make the perfect combination for a flawless holiday. When thinking about the beach, the first things that come to one’s mind are water, sun, sand, a lounge chair, and a cocktail. That’s pretty much the same scenery over and over again. Fed up with the same ordinary seashores, avid travelers are taking things to a whole new level, looking for something spectacular, quirky, without a match, even if this means stepping out of their comfort zone. The most peculiar and exclusive beaches you can visit in a lifetime are hard to reach, intimate, with green, purple, or pink sand dunes, all created by Mother Nature herself, no human help involved.
Pure sands glowing in the Tropical sun, turquoise waves, surreal sunrise and dusk, dream-like landscapes that lack the words to be described in their complete beauty, places on Earth that seem to be the very gates to Paradise stand as proof that nature still has much to offer, and has yet to amaze even those who traveled a lot and thought they’ve seen everything. White and black are not enough anymore, some seacoasts mix it up with a little green and purple on the side to give birth to intriguing shades that seem too refined to be true. The strangest, most fabulous beaches in the world host almost untouched wildlife, bizarre natural shapes, making the picture perfect destination for the ultimate barefoot extravaganza.
10. Barking Sand Beach, Hawaii
Only 17 miles from Hawaii National Park, Barking Sand Beach is renowned throughout the world for its unusual noise properties. When stepping on the quartz sand, it responds with a sound resembling the bark of a dog pack, rather than the common squeak we are used to. When first noticed, the phenomenon raised much controversy. Researchers finally came to the conclusion that the sand grains are hollow, and footfalls produce amplified resonance sounds. The more grains of sand, the more intense the sound. Unique in the world, Barking Sands Beach is found on Kaua’i Island in Hawaii, and is the location of the Pacific Missile Range Facility. Nevertheless, most of the beach is still open to the general public, and depending on the angle you’re looking from, it may look either like a deserted place, a lunar landscape, or the most beautiful beach you’ve ever seen, bathed by the gentle waves of the blue Pacific.
9. Boulders Beach, Cape Town
Stretching along Cape Town’s coast, tourists are not the only ones attending this beach. More than 3,000 African penguins live here on a permanent basis. Either sunbathing or seeking shelter by the giant boulders, these cute animals are the steady residents of Boulders Beach. Located in the Cape Peninsula along the South African coast, the beach also caught the public’s eye thanks to its oddly shaped massive granite boulders, the work of thousands of years of erosion, which seem to complement the serene scenery of white sandy beaches and crystal blue waters. Part of Table Mountain National Park, Boulders Beach is a great place to spot African penguins enjoying the same leisurely activities as tourists. Be aware that even though they look cute and adorable, their razor sharp beaks can cause a nasty bite.
8. Pink Sands Beach, Bahamas
Found on Harbor Island in the Bahamas, a minuscule island only 3.5 by 1.5 miles, but nevertheless one of the loveliest in the archipelago, Pinks Sands Beach boasts three whole miles of pink sands, blending in with the turquoise Bahamas Sea. Pink Sands Beach is a dream destination among lovers of all ages. What makes it even more special is that, against all odds, the sand is not volcanic. A surreal landscape, the color comes from the red shells of single-celled marine animals called foraminifera. When they die, their shells are ground by the ocean, then brought to shore where they mix with the island’s white sand, creating a rosy pink hue. Best time of day to visit the 20 acre beach is early in the morning, when the sand has a distinctive glow.
7. Thunder Cove, Prince Edward Island
With no less than 500 miles of fabulous beaches, Prince Edward Island is a Canadian gem. Located just off Canada’s east coast, more than half of its beaches are covered in red sand, extremely rare in the world. The vivid rust color is owed to the high concentration of iron oxide in the sand. There are many such beaches to choose from, most of them scattered around the southern coast, known as Red Sands Shore, but the most famous one is Thunder Cove, located on Green Gables Shore on the northern coast. Boasting impressive rust colored sand dunes enclosed by vivid red sandstone cliffs Mother Nature seems to have had a blast creating, Thunder Cove is a place where you’ll find yourself surrounded by untouched wilderness. Of course, this comes for a price, and you can expect to pay $1,000 a week for the smallest beach house.
6. Genipabu Beach, Brazil
Don’t let the giant sand dunes fool you. You’re not in the middle of a Lawrence of Arabia scene in the desert. Believe it or not, you are standing a few feet from the Atlantic Ocean. The perfect playground for adrenalin junkies and thrill seekers, the sand dunes can be explored in many ways, from thrilling buggy rides to camel back rides that will make you feel as if you’ve gotten lost in the Sahara, and even sandboarding, a variation of snowboarding that uses sand endues instead of snow. There’s a renowned freshwater lagoon, almost like a mirage of an oasis in the desert, and the calm waters of the ocean welcome all visitors for a dip.
5. Rainbow Beach, Australia
Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island located just off Australia’s east coast, is yet another one of those places on Earth that decided to break the pattern and went for a myriad of colors instead of just one. Enclosed by strangely shaped cliffs, these become first seats for the exquisite show of rainbow colors the beach puts on for any new visitor. It may look plain golden from a distance, but if you look carefully, and if the sun helps out a little, striations of rose, cream, honey, and nougat turn the beach from a desert into a dessert.
In the immediate vicinity, the 75 Mile Beach stretches for as long as its name implies, and it’s a coastal highway in the true sense of the world, acting like a runway, too. The hard packed sand makes it easy for four-wheel vehicles and planes to make swift maneuvers, only a few feet from the ocean. However, visitors need not worry about getting run over, as there’s plenty of space for everyone, like the Champagne Pools to the north, with its shallow sandy rock pools acting like a natural jacuzzi.
4. Maho Beach, Caribbean
Landscapes and crystal clear waters are not the main attraction on Maho Beach on Saint Martin Island in the Caribbean. What’s unique about it is its immediate vicinity to Princess Julianna International Airport, whose runways begin right at the beach line. Since tourists were tempted to step on the runways, a fence was built to separate them from the sandy beach. Regardless of the noise and discomfort caused by the many planes landing and taking off, tourists can’t help but feel emotion whenever a plane lands right above their heads. It is one of the few places in the world where tourists have the chance to observe plane maneuvers up close. For extra entertainment, one of the bars in the area obtained the airport’s approval to install speakers transmitting conversations between the pilots and the control tower. The adrenalin rush is so intense, that dipping in the sea is not as important anymore.
3. Siesta Beach, Florida
An exquisite white sand beach, purer than anything you’ve ever seen, Siesta Beach is found in Siesta Key, Florida, a barrier island between Roberts Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. A pristine destination with unbelievable clear blue waters, it actually received several awards, like the whitest and finest sand in the world, the best sand beach in America, and the best beach in America. While its color might not look much different than that of other white sand beaches in the world, what makes it truly unique is the sand’s composition, made up of 99.9 % quartz crystals, meaning that it is incredibly pure and clean, like powdered sugar, and never heats up in the sun. So feel free to take your flip flops off and enjoy the sand under your bare feet. Considered one of the loveliest beaches in the world, it is also one of the most extravagant in the U.S., and its shallow water and excellent lifeguard protection make it one of the safest beaches in the country.
2. Hidden Beach, Mexico
Have you ever pictured yourself swimming and sunbathing in a cave? Also known as Playa de Amor, Hidden Beach is a secluded paradise, a world within a world. Resembling the crater of a volcano, but filled with white sand beaches and crystal clear waters instead of lava, Hidden Beach is found on the Marieta Islands near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The result of volcanic activity throughout thousands of years, Mexico’s most popular beach remained isolated from the outside world until recently. It was first explored by Jacques Cousteau, and is now protected, as it boasts an almost virgin ecosystem, a rich marine life, and also plays the role of a bird sanctuary.
1. Papakolea Beach, Hawaii
Also known as Green Sand Beach or Mahana, Papakolea Beach is found on Kai Island in the Hawaiian archipelago. It is one of only two beaches in the world that boast green sands, the other is in the Galapagos islands. The sand’s color is given by its structure. Unlike most sands in the world, based on silicates, these grains are composed of pure olivine, a green mineral from the Puu Mahana volcano that dominates the beach and coast, which was laid on the shore the last time it erupted some 10,000 years ago. The only drawback is the access, a two to three hour hike along the cliffs of the southernmost point in the archipelago, with no markings or trails, and the occasional landslides in the area, which is why all visitors are advised to hire a guide. Of course, reaching the secluded exclusive beach comes for a hefty price, as local guides are well aware of the value of the services they offer.