White sand and azure water come to mind when we think of the beach, along with traditional summer activities like swimming, sunbathing and building a few sandcastles. While many of the world’s beaches fit this classic description, there are also those out there that are unique. Seriously unique.
From sands that come in a rainbow of colors and sands that blend with glass, to piers made of earth and waters that disappear, here are the world’s 10 strangest beaches. You’ll find them in all corners of the planet, from remote islands off the coast of Australia to the southernmost point of Iceland and California’s Fort Bragg shore.
10 Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach/Vik Beach, Iceland
Iceland doesn’t exactly make you think of beaches, right? The Nordic country is actually home to one of the most fascinating beaches in the world: Vik Beach. What makes this beach so special—and magical to look at—is its black sand.
White waves washing up against the black sand is something not to be missed. If you need another reason to visit Vik Beach, though, there are a number of unique rock formations along the shore that make the whole area seem like something from a work of fiction.
9 Hot Water Beach, New Zealand
It shouldn’t be too difficult to work out what makes Hot Water Beach so special. On this tourist hotspot (pun intended) on the North Island of New Zealand’s Coromandel Peninsula, visitors will have the chance to enjoy hot tub-like settings. These are created by naturally heated mineral water, which emerges from hot springs beneath the ground during low tide.
Simply dig a hole in the sand to enjoy a relaxing afternoon in one of nature’s hot tubs, after a morning of swimming in the ocean. What could be better?
8 Chandipur Beach, India
Few things are more interesting than an ocean that disappears every day. You heard right! At Chandipur Beach on the Bay of Bengal, India, the water withdraws and leaves behind more than three miles of bare seabed to explore.
Most visitors to Chandipur Beach use this opportunity to look for rare seashells and crabs hiding in the exposed sand. This exceptionally low tide occurs twice a day, so you don’t have to worry about missing your chance to walk along the seabed. It always comes again!
7 Genipabu Beach, Brazil
Genipabu Beach straddles the Atlantic Ocean in Brazil’s famous Natal area. Popular with travelers, this beach is extraordinary because it combines elements of both a traditional coastal landscape and a desert environment.
Large and iconic sand dunes carpet the shoreline, making most visitors forget that they’re actually at a beach in South America. After your normal beach activities, you can opt for adventures like sandboarding, buggy riding or even—yes—camel riding to explore the sand dunes.
6 Pink Sand Beach, Bahamas
One of the world's prettiest beaches is located on Harbour Island, a 3.5-mile stretch of land that makes up a small part of the Bahamas. You might have seen snaps of Pink Sands Beach and assumed they’d been edited, but it’s all real. The sand really is pink!
Pink sandy beaches aren't as unusual as you might think. This beautiful phenomenon is caused by the red shells of marine creatures known as foraminifera mixing with the white sand. It’s definitely worth a trip to the Bahamas just to see the miraculous beach in the flesh, as well as several others of its kind in Bermuda.
5 Zlatni Rat Beach, Croatia
In Croatian, Zlatni Rat means ‘Golden Horn’, and that’s exactly what this beach is. Situated on Brac Island, Zlatni Rat Beach features a natural and narrow extension of land that travels a quarter-mile into the ocean. In effect, it’s kind of like Mother Nature’s pier.
Covered with pine trees and other native flora, the horn of land actually changes size and shape according to the sea itself. Pretty magical stuff! Croatia is one of the best places to go island hopping, and Zlatni Rat is just one of the reasons why.
4 Glass Beach, California
Some of the world’s strangest beaches require great treks to get there, while others might be located in your own backyard. Glass Beach is situated in California and is one of the most beautiful in the world, thanks to a not-so-nice history.
Locals were used to dumping their glass along the Fort Bragg shore until the practice was banned in the late 1960s. Over time, the rubbish was eroded by the waves. The remaining particles were then carried ashore, which resulted in what we now know as Glass Beach.
3 Playa Del Amor, Mexico
Sometimes called Lover’s Beach and sometimes called Hidden Beach, Mexico’s Playa Del Amor certainly has an enchanting quality to it. Part of the Marieta Islands, which are located near Puerto Vallarta, Playa Del Amor is hard to get to. In order to find this hidden cove, you have to swim or kayak through a tunnel of water that connects to the Pacific Ocean.
Getting there requires some adventure, but it’s well worth it—especially if you’re on your honeymoon. A beach hidden among the scrub is the stuff romance is made of.
2 Papakolea Beach, Hawaii
We’ve seen black sand and pink sand, but that’s not all the planet has in store for us. Papakolea Beach, Hawaii, features a shore of fairytale-like green sand. The grains are actually made up of a volcanic mineral called olivine, which comes from the cinder cone Pu'u Mahana which stands near the beach.
To find this beach, you’ll have to hike along the sea cliffs near Ka Lae for around three miles. But there are worse things to do than walk along the Hawaiian coast and end up at one of the world’s most fascinating beaches!
1 75 Mile Beach, Australia
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Located on Fraser Island, Australia, 75 Mile Beach doubles as a highway and a runway. Planes have been known to land along the smooth stretch, and cars make a habit of driving along the firm sand. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a relaxing afternoon here, though.
There are plenty of quieter spots along the 75 miles of scenic coast, including the lavish Champagne Pools toward the north. Here, visitors pass the time in rock pools and swimming holes, where they’re safe from strong currents.