Tourists looking for a beach experience that goes beyond the typical sun, sand and sea can explore the world’s most unusual beaches. Different colours, shapes, animals and even glowing sands exist to satisfy the curiosity, adventure or spiritual needs of any traveller. The world offers Red Beach in Santorini, Greece with its volcanic red hue, and Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, California, USA with its polished coloured glass pebbles. Lust for green can be satisfied at Hawaii’s Papakolea Beach, while on Shell Beach, Shark Bay in Australia one finds millions of white Fragum erugatum shells. Vaadhoo Island in the Maldives illuminates its waves in the night’s bioluminescence, while Pig Beach on Exuma Island in The Bahamas awaits interaction with its friendly pig residents.
The World’s Most Unusual Beaches: Get Inspired for Your Next Vacation
If you are looking for a beach experience that goes beyond the typical sun, sand, and sea, the world offers plenty of options that can surprise and enchant you. From beaches with unusual colors, shapes, or animals to those that glow in the dark or disappear at high tides, these destinations can satisfy the curiosity, the adventure, or even the spiritual needs of any traveler. Here are some of the world’s most unusual beaches that deserve a spot on your bucket list.
Red Beach, Santorini, Greece
If you have seen pictures of Santorini, you might have noticed the iconic white houses with blue domes perched on a dramatic cliff overlooking the sea. However, don’t miss the chance to visit the nearby Red Beach, which features a unique red hue created by the volcanic rocks that surround it. A 10-minute walk from the parking area is enough to reach the beach, but be careful with the occasional rockfall and the strong waves that make swimming challenging.
Glass Beach, Fort Bragg, California, USA
Once a dumpsite for automobiles and glass bottles, Glass Beach in Fort Bragg has been transformed into a surreal treasure of colorful, polished glass pebbles that decorate the shore. The waves and the sand have transformed the broken shards into smooth, rounded jewels that glitter in the sun and create a magical atmosphere. However, remember that taking away any glass is illegal and detrimental to the preservation of the beach.
Papakolea Beach, Hawaii, USA
Green is not a color that you typically associate with beaches, but that’s what you will find at Papakolea Beach, located on the south end of Hawaii’s Big Island. This isolated cove is made of tiny olivine crystals, a gemstone form of magnesium iron silicate that is reinforced by the nearby eroded volcano. The green sand looks almost surreal against the turquoise water and the black lava rocks, and you can even swim or snorkel in the clear ocean.
Shell Beach, Shark Bay, Australia
Imagine a beach where instead of sand, you find millions of tiny, white shells piled up to several meters deep. That’s Shell Beach, a unique natural wonder located in Shark Bay, Western Australia, where you can stroll, sunbathe or collect some shells (but don’t take too many!). The shells come from a type of marine snail called Fragum erugatum that thrives in the hypersaline waters of the area.
Vaadhoo Island, Maldives
At night, the waves of Vaadhoo Island in the Maldives light up like blue stars in the sky. This stunning phenomenon is caused by bioluminescent phytoplankton that emit a faint light when stimulated by the water movement or pressure. Walking on the beach at night feels like walking on a glowing carpet, and you can even swim in the warm tropical waters and see the underwater fireworks around you.
Exuma Island, Bahamas
Pig Beach on Exuma Island in the Bahamas is not just any beach. It’s a beach inhabited by a group of overjoyed, friendly pigs that love to swim, sunbathe and receive visitors. These charming pigs are thought to have been introduced to the island by sailors who left them there, and now they roam around and even greet boats approaching the shore. You can feed them, take selfies with them, or just enjoy their company on this unusual beach.
Other unusual beaches worth mentioning include Mahana Beach in Honshu, Japan, which morphs its shape and size due to tidal erosion and accretion, making it a research object for coastal dynamics; Hot Water Beach in New Zealand, which features natural hot springs that emerge from the sand and allow visitors to dig their own hot tub; Hidden Beach in Marieta Islands, Mexico, which is a secluded beach hidden inside a collapsed volcanic crater that you can only access by swimming through a tunnel; and Reynisfjara Beach in Iceland, which boasts dramatic black sand, basalt columns, and crashing waves that create an eerie but awe-inspiring landscape.
1. Can I take glass from Glass Beach?
No, taking glass from Glass Beach is illegal and harmful to the preservation of the site. Admire the glass with your eyes, not your hands.
2. What is the unusual color of Papakolea Beach made of?
The green color of Papakolea Beach comes from olivine crystals, a form of gemstone made of magnesium iron silicate that is reinforced by the nearby eroded volcano.
3. How can I see the bioluminescent phytoplankton in Vaadhoo Island?
The bioluminescent phytoplankton in Vaadhoo Island can be seen at night, preferably during a new moon or a cloudy night, which enhances the contrast. Make sure to avoid using flashlights or disturbing the water, and enjoy the natural light show.
4. Can I swim with the pigs in Pig Beach?
Yes, you can swim with the pigs in Pig Beach, but be respectful of them and avoid chasing or grabbing them. Feed them with suitable food in moderation, and take photos without using a flash or disturbing them.