Beaches have been badly abused the world over. For the adventurous traveller, their reputation lies in ruin; tattered or battered, overrun with tourists and sanitised into uniform, globalised sameness.
Yet with something in the region of 217,490 miles of coastline in the world, there must be some escape. Where the aqueous world and the earth we tread upon every day meet, two totally separate yet co-dependant ecosystems collide. Naturally, this has produced some of the most phenomenal travel destinations on the planet. Far from the madding tourist crowds, here’s our pick of the world’s more unusual beaches…
Vik Beach, Iceland
The chilly Atlantic Ocean brushes against the brittle flecks of black sand on Iceland’s southern shores. The black sand beach at Vik is home to Reynisdrangar, imposing black basalt columns. It is easy, standing on these brooding shores, to see how it once fired the imagination of locals in the past: these columns were believed to be trolls, caught and frozen for all eternity by the dawn sun.
Trip: Icelandic Highlights
Vancouver Island, Canada
A small zodiac boat is the best way to visit the salt-water inlets of Tofino, skimming the waves close to the shoreline. These quiet, boulder-strewn havens are flanked by tall evergreens from which the onlookers may observe huge, furred paw materialising in the shadow of the forest. Black bears come here to feast on the wealth of fresh fish and crustaceans along the shore.
Trip: Whales & Bears of British Columbia
Deception Island, Antarctica
An Antarctic expedition is a truly unique voyage, to a frozen world you’ll find nowhere else on the planet. The geological phenomenon of Deception Island is no exception. The crater rim of a monumental volcano admits only the brave who sail between the opening, but rewards with steaming fumaroles and hot sea water in the midst of an icy wilderness.
Trip: Antarctic Explorer
Gypsy Cove, Falklands
Jutting out on a peninsular close to Stanley is a crescent of white sand framed by floral heathland known as Gypsy Cove. Due to its strategic position, Gypsy Cove became a site for Argentinian landmines during the 1982 conflict, sadly many of which are still active today. Luckily though, the several Magellanic penguins that dwell around these shores are to light too set off the mines and get the beach all to themselves. Visitors can observe these fancy-footed, feathered Falkanders from a marked trail.
Trip: Antarctica, Falklands & South Georgia