The pinkish glow of the Harbour Island’s beach is attributed to tiny microscopic animals known as Foraminifera. The organism has a bright red shell, and when washed up by the waves onto the beach, they mix with the powdery sand to produce a gentle shade of pink that would make Barbie proud.
1 / 13 1. Pink Sand Beach: Harbour Island, BahamasRead more
2 / 13 2. Glacier Lagoon Jokulsarlon: Vatnajokull National Park, IcelandRead more
Most of the beaches in Iceland consist of glistening stretches of black sand because of volcanic activity in the country. This particular Icelandic beach, however, is home to massive chunks of white glassy ice. The chunks, which are broken bits of ice cold glaciers, contrast beautifully on the black sand.
3 / 13 3. Bahia Gardner: Espanola Island, GalapagosRead more
Located in the southernmost part of the Galapagos Archipelago, this island is also known by its English name, Hood Island. The island is one of the oldest in the region, at around four million years old, and is home to sea lions, red lava lizards and Espanola mockingbirds.
4 / 13 4. Mosquito Bay: Vieques, Puerto RicoRead more
If travelling all the way to the 60th parallel to catch a glimpse of dancing northern lights is your idea of an adventure, this nautical version would definitely make the cut. Paddlers on Mosquito Bay will experience a trail of neon blue lights every time the canoe breaks the water surface. This happens when microorganisms, known as dinoflagellates, are disturbed in the water.
5 / 13 5. Glass Beach: Kauai, Hawaii and Fort BraggRead more
California Glass beaches are the perfect examples of nature’s reclamation efforts. These two locations were previously used as industrial dump sites, but after a massive clean-up and years of erosion, discarded glass pieces were smoothened over to produce a glossy exterior, turning them into sea glass.
6 / 13 6. Giants Causeway Beach: County Antrim, Northern IrelandRead more
At first glance the Irish legend of two giants building a bridge connecting Scotland and Ireland almost seems believable. The nearly perfect hexagonal basaltic columns are in fact a result of intense volcanic activity in the region.
7 / 13 7. Green Sand Beach: Papakolea Beach and Mahana Beach, Ka’u, HawaiiRead more
Thanks to the mineral olivine, which comes from the nearby cinder cone, this peculiar beach sparkles a brilliant green. It’s only one of the four beaches in the world with bright green sand, the others being Talofofo Beach, Guam, Punta Cormorant on Floreana Island in the Galapagos Islands, and Hornindalsvatnet, Norway.
8 / 13 8. Tunnel Beach: Dunedin, New ZealandRead more
What better way to gaze out across the great southern ocean than to stand high above the sandstone cliffs of Dunedin? The jagged coastline overlooks Tunnel Beach, a coveted gem that would be inaccessible if not for the 1870s hand carved passageway leading into it. The journey through the rock makes an enlightening one, with shell fragments, bones and fossils of prehistoric origins embedded in the narrow arch.
9 / 13 9. Star Sand Beach: Irimote Island, Okinawa, JapanRead more
These unusually shaped grains of “sand” are actually exoskeletons of foraminiferans, microscopic marine organisms, washed up on shores. These organisms are believed to date back to 550 million years ago and is one of the oldest fossils known to man.
10 / 13 10. Hidden Beach: The Marieta Islands of Puerto Vallarta, MexicoRead more
True to its name, this beach lies out of sight, just beneath a large hole in the ground. Beachgoers can only access the beach by swimming through a cave when sea and weather conditions are optimal. According to Vallarta Adventures, this beach was formed by a collapse of a volcanic rock that makes up the island.
11 / 13 11. Beach of the Cathedrals: Ribadeo, Galicia, SpainRead more
Mother Nature displays her best performance yet at this beach. Come low tide, any beachgoer will be blown away by the imposing rock arches that front the coastline, giving credence to its name. The beach, which can only be accessed during low tide, can be entered via narrow grottos. The more adventurous can also try their hand at some natural rock climbing for a more spectacular sea view.
12 / 13 12. Scala Dei Turchi: Realmonte, SicilyRead more
Cutting into the clear turquoise water off Sicily’s southern coast is a massive white marlstone boulder, smoothed by years of wind erosion. Its name, which translates to Turkish Steps, has violent origins, in which Arab pirates – referred to as “Turks” – once anchored their boats in the coast during their plundering days. These days, the boulder is frequently used a favourite sunbathing spot and a diving board for thrill seekers.
13 / 13 13. Benagil Sea Cave and Cave Beach: Algarve, PortugalRead more
Not to be confused with Hidden Beach in Vallarta, Mexico, this Portugese beauty on the Algarve coastline is a dome-shaped sea cave carved from the surrounding limestone cliffs. There’s no need for lofty beach umbrellas here, with a rocky dome over a powdery golden beach. The best photo opportunity has to be under the cave’s aperture when sunlight streams through, casting a natural spotlight.
A version of this story first appeared on AsiaOne.
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