01. Red Beach
Built on a volcanic caldera, the Greek island of Santorini exudes an air of a dream holiday location. Its whitewashed houses with vibrant blue roofs and donkeys strolling through the streets add to the charm. Just outside the town, one of the main attraction is the Red Beach. Not far from Akrotiri, an ancient site destroyed by a volcanic eruption, the beach is surrounded by black and red volcanic rocks. With the turquoise waters below, the view is simply spectacular.
Iceland is famed for its unique natural sights. Yet few are as impressive as the Reynisfjara shoreline. The black pebble beach and Gardar, the basalt cliff with its regular pyramid-like columns, seem almost supernatural. In a setting like this, the legend of two trolls dragging a ship to shore but turned to stone by sun sounds quite realistic. The area is rich with bird life and visitors can spot puffins, fulmars and guillemots.
03. Marietas Islands
A few miles off the coast of Nayarit, Mexico, lies a chain of uninhabited islands that make up the Islas Marietas National Park. One of the islands’ most spectacular features is the hidden beach, La Playa de Amor (Lover’s Beach). Likely the result of military testing in the twentieth century, the caved-in ceiling reveals a stunning patch of sand and turquoise waters surrounded by rock walls.
The beach and surrounding area are home to hundreds of species of fish and birds, and the snorkeling in the area is excellent. Nearby, dolphins play, and humpback whales visit the area in the winter. To get there, you’ll need to join a tour that is licensed to visit the islands, and then swim about one hundred yards from the boat through a tunnel into the beach.
04. Shell Beach
From afar, this Western Australian beach looks like a regular white sand beach. However, upon closer inspection visitors will find that the sand is not sand at all, but thousands of miniscule shells stretching out as far as the eye can see. They belong to the Shark Bay cockle, which flourishes in the shallow, salty waters. The beach is also a World Heritage Site. Not far away, the Hamelin Pool is home to stromatolites and the Hamelin cockle.
05. Koekohe Beach
Located between Moeraki and Hampden, New Zealand, Koekohe Beach offers Game of Thrones-like scenery. Giant boulders reminiscent of dragon’s eggs are actually concretions dating back 15 million years, which grew evenly in the same way pearls do. A single boulder can weigh up to seven tons. A Maori legend says the boulders are remnants of supply baskets from the Araiteuru canoe, which wrecked while bringing the Maori people to New Zealand.
Find more beaches and other off-the-beaten-path locations by exploring the Well Travelled series…
Written by Kamila Beyssembaeva
Headline photo by Ignasi Jansa/Shutterstock