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Sensational beaches

Top 5

Sensational beaches

Stare out over the ocean as the sand tickles your toes: what could be better than a day at the beach? From white sandy beaches in Australia to glass splendour in California: we’ve made a selection of the world’s most unique beaches. Start packing your bag!

Head out to the beach!
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    Charles Wollertz / Alamy Stock Photo
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Glass Beach, Fort Bragg, California

Glistening under the California sun

Like a treasure trove full of jewels, the beach at Fort Bragg in Northern California sparkles in the sunlight. However, this beach was not always this shiny. Known as The Dumps, it was used as a waste dump until 1967. 

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Charles Wollertz / Alamy Stock Photo
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Charles Wollertz / Alamy Stock Photo

From bottles to cans, broken washing machines and cars: all kinds of waste was thrown down the cliffs onto the beach until the government finally undertook a massive clean-up campaign. Metal and larger items were removed but the glass was left behind. The waves of the Pacific Ocean took care of the rest, sculpting these glistening jewels in every colour of the rainbow. The beach is freely accessible and you can spend hours picking through the ruby red and emerald green glass pebbles before enjoying a picnic at the cliffs high above the beach.

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    davidmucke / Stockimo / Alamy Stock Photo
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Hyams Beach, Jervis Bay, Australia

White, whiter, whitest

Don’t forget your sunglasses! Blindingly bright Hyams Beach near Jervis Bay on Australia’s East Coast has the whitest sand in the world. The dazzling fluffy sand contrasts beautifully with the deep blue Tasman Sea, a perfect Instagram moment. Combine a lazy beach day with a hike through the nearby Booderee National Park. This nature reserve has been home to the Koori Aboriginals for thousands of years. The oldest archaeological finds date back 20,000 years.

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martin berry / Alamy Stock Photo
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Tim Starkey
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Genevieve Vallee / Alamy Stock Photo
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Playa del Amor, Islas Marietas, Mexico

Mexico’s hidden beach

It's easy to overlook Playa del Amor, even when you’re standing right on top of it! This bizarre beach is tucked away inside a crater on a deserted island off Mexico’s west coast. You have to paddle a kayak or be a good swimmer to reach this beach which can only be accessed through a narrow tunnel from the Pacific Ocean. 

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Michael DeFreitas Central America / Alamy Stock Photo

Although quite lovely, this beach is not entirely natural. At the beginning of the 20th century the Mexican government used the Islas Marietas as a test site for weapons and explosives. This hidden beach was probably created by one of these explosions. Today the islands form a national park. Visitors can swim and kayak while looking for dolphins, manta rays and humpbacks.

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    Mark D Callanan
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Praia das Catedrais, Ribadeo, Spain

Ocean cathedral

Once the sea retreats, an impressive sight emerges along the coast of Ribadeo in Galicia. At high tide only a narrow strip of sand is visible, but at low tide the beach reveals huge arches, jagged rock faces and mysterious caves. 

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It only takes a little bit of imagination to see how Praia das Catedrais got its name: it really feels as if you are walking through the central nave of a monumental cathedral. Just keep an eye on the tide chart to avoid wet feet and return to shore before the sea swallows up the beach again.

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    JTB MEDIA CREATION, Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo
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Amanohashidate, Miyazu, Japan

A bridge to heaven

The name is quite a mouthful, but Amanohashidate deserves it. Freely translated from Japanese, Amanohashidate means ‘bridge to heaven’ and this forested sandbank would be a fitting link between heaven and earth. Together with the floating temple gate of Miyajima and the Pine Islands of Matsushima, this idyllic beach north of Kyoto is one of the three famous ‘Nihon Sankei’ – the most beautiful landscapes of Japan. 

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JTB MEDIA CREATION, Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo
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Traditionally, the ‘bridge’ is best admired with your head between your knees – yes, upside down – so you can see the flying dragon it is supposed to represent. Once you are standing up straight again take a stroll along the beach, sample some fresh fish or admire the many temples.

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