Wanderlust

8 of the World’s Most Extraordinarily Strange Beaches

3 March 2017

Do you want to try something more exciting than simply basking under the sunny idyllic glow of a picturesque coastline?

Then here are eight of the world’s most unusual and fascinating beaches to consider visiting this year.

PLAYA DEL AMOR IN MARIETA ISLANDS

In the early 1900s, the Mexican government used a secluded part of the Marieta Islands as a bomb-testing site, creating what is now a shallow depression where seawater sloshes in. Nicknamed the Hidden Beach, the remote area bordered by rocky formations can be reached by swimming through a 40-foot tunnel. During low tide, you can relax on the white sand of the Hidden Beach and enjoy watching the spectacular diversity of wildlife in the area. You might also catch a glimpse of dolphins, turtles, humpback whales, and sting rays.

GIANT’S CAUSEWAY BEACH IN NORTHERN IRELAND

This UNESCO World Heritage Site in Ireland looks straight out of a science fiction movie with its mostly hexagonal basalt columns blanketing the bleak coastline. The odd-looking basalt columns in Giant’s Causeway beach were produced in ancient times by volcanic activity. Millions of years of weathering and erosion resulted in the famous basalt boulder formations such as the Giant’s Boot and Chimney Stacks. You can get to Giant’s Causeway via conventional railway lines and a seven-mile scenic stroll.

BOWLING BALL BEACH IN CALIFORNIA

Like Giant’s Causeway, Bowling Ball Beach, which is part of the Schooner Gulch State Beach, sports bizarre, oversized rock formations. The only difference is in the shape of the rocks. While those in Giant’s Causeway are tubular basalt formations jutting out of the ground, the ones in Bowling Ball Beach are spherical sandstone boulders. Located in Mendocino County northwest of Santa Rosa, California, this seaside attraction is best visited during low tide where the round sandstone concretions are most visible.

KOEKOHE BEACH IN NEW ZEALAND

The huge round sandstones of Bowling Ball Beach have their mudstone concretion counterparts in the freakish-looking Moeraki Boulders of Koekohe Beach in Otago, New Zealand. Dubbed as Dragon Eggs by some people, the Moeraki Boulders are enormous. In fact, the diameter of some of the larger ones spans up to two meters. When viewed under the soft late-afternoon sunlight, the clusters of Moeraki Boulders truly seem out of this world.

GRASS BEACH IN FRENCH GUIANA

There’s a sea shore consisting of grassland in Kourou, a town in French Guiana. Instead of sand, this unique seaside marvel is covered with green grass that is all too perfect for a lazy sunset stroll and a picnic.

STAR SAND BEACH IN JAPAN

At snorkeling paradise Star Sand Beach, the beach sand grains are not your regular sand grains. They are mostly miniature star-shaped shells of marine organisms called foraminiferans. Located in Iriomote Island in Okinawa, Star Sand Beach offers you a once-in-a-lifetime chance to walk on countless microscopic exoskeletons of living fossils.

PLAYA DE GULPIYURI IN SPAIN

Imagine a lush green meadow away from the coastline. Sectioned off somewhere in the middle of this panoramic terrain is a sinkhole with all the makings of a small sandy beach. This seemingly fictional construct is actually Playa De Gulpiyuri, a stunning tourist destination near Llanes, Spain. Spanning around 40 meters from end to end, Playa De Gulpiyuri comes complete with tides, small waves, and a sandy beach. The seawater comes from the Cantabrian Sea and is fed into the sinkhole by subterranean waterways.

ALGARVE SEA CAVES IN PORTUGAL

To safely explore the fascinating expanse of the Algarve sea cave system, simply join any of the cave boat tours manned by expert Portuguese skippers and fishermen. You may, of course, visit the grottoes by kayaking or swimming, but consider vetoing these options if you are not an advanced kayaker or swimmer because the oceanic cave networks can be pretty unpredictable and hazardous. There are five must-see caves, including the most famous–the jaw-dropping Benagil Sea Cave. Other Algarve sea cave attractions you would not want to miss are the Elefante Cave in Lagos, the hard-to-access Captain’s Cave, Praia da Marinha and its world-famous rocky arches, and Zorreira Cave, which is near the Benagil Sea Cave and should be part of any Benagil Sea Cave boat tour.

Consider experiencing the above eight beaches and their wonderfully weird features. Ticking them off your holiday list someday, you might want to add equally fantastic options such as California’s Pfeiffer Purple Sand Beach and its colorful coastline rich in garnet and manganese deposits, as well as the Martian-landscape-looking Red Sand Beach of Rábida Island in the Galápagos.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain

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