names the top 10 most unusual beaches

If there’s one thing knows about, it’s beaches. As a long-haul specialist which offers lots of fly-and-flop breaks, the company knows its Byron Bays from its Bora Boras, and its Tulum from its Oludeniz. It also knows about some seriously strange sandstrips – and here’s a countdown of the ten strangest of them all:






1. Loango National Park, Gabon

The sprawling park extends to miles of pristine beach, enabling the strange, gape-inducing dynamic of elephants, buffalos, wild pigs, gorillas and ‘surfing hippos’ taking a dip in the ocean. The coast-side Loango Lodge is the best place to stay, although you’re probably advised to leave your own trunks at home and just watch these strange spectacles from the safety of the shore.






2. Cow Beach, Goa

Bovine and beach: a pair of words that don’t typically appear in the same sentence. But all that changes in Goa, where the madness of Cow Beach sees heifers hurdle towels and bulls blunder parasols in search of a tasty lunch, and cattle generally sprawled on the brown sand, working on their tans. Despite the sanitary issues this scenario would seem to incur, the beach remains busy and bustling.






3. Punaluu Beach, Hawaii

Take the perfect white-sand beach of clichéd brochure covers, imagine the complete opposite and you’ll have some idea of what Punaluu looks like. It’s rocky, cold-watered and entirely black; its basalt sand being the product of ancient volcanic lava cooled by the sea. All of which seems to appeal to endangered Hawksbill turtles, who are regular frequenters of this curious cove.

4. Glass Beach, California

For much of the 1900s, locals in the coastal California town of Fort Bragg threw garbage onto their local shoreline, a place known subtly as ‘The Dumps’. In 1967, the area was closed for a long, gradual clean-up; one aided, in part, by the ocean’s waves wearing down all the left-over glass into smooth, multi-coloured trinkets. ‘Glass Beach’ reopened in 2002 as part of the MacKerricher State Park, and is now a confirmed tourist attraction. If you like shiny beaches, this is heaven…


5. Pink Sands Beach, Bahamas

White, yellow, brown and even black (as above) are all common sand colours – but pink? Yes, pink. Three miles long, gentle and wonderfully wide, this otherwise textbook Bahamanian cove is a weird Barbie-colour due to microscopic coral insects called Foraminifera; when they die, they considerately leave their pink shells behind to be crushed into the sand by waves.

6. Papakolea Beach, Hawaii

Oh, and sand also comes green, too. Two global beaches are green; one is on the remote Western Pacific island of Guam, and the other is this Hawaiian oddity, situated on Big Island. The reason for the strange shade is, in this case, olivine crystals; the result is a shore that looks like a slimy grass verge.






7. Hot Water Beach, New Zealand

Set on the Coromandel Peninsula, this strip is the seaside equivalent of under-floor heating. Subterranean hot springs filter up through the sand; either side of low tide, visitors can burrow down and create their own hot-water pool in which to soak. Thus is established a sort of peculiar, DIY thermal-bath experience: the most literal of ‘bucket-and-spade’ holidays.


8. Maho Beach, Saint Martin

If you like to always be within reach of home, this one’s ideal. Set a fence away from one of the Princess Juliana International Airport’s runways, Maho is thus perfect for watching huge Boeings swooping in to land. As you’d expect, the cove has become a planespotter’s pilgrimage; its Sunset Beach Bar even reportedly has a speaker that broadcasts transmissions between pilots and the airport’s control tower.







9. Traigh Mhor Beach, Barra

Then again, any self-respecting aviation beach-buff knows that Maho doesn’t even compare to Barra, in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides – for here, the beach actually is the runway. Twin Otters from Glasgow and Benbecula land directly on the wide sand of Traigh Mhor – or, at least they do when the tide is out, and the beach is available. Yep – it’s a pop-up airport. On a cloudy day (this is the Outer Hebrides, after all), additional light is provided by vehicles in the car park.







10. Barking Sands Beach, Hawaii

How about a beach that sounds like a dog? Yes, you did read that right – the squeaky golden grains on Hawaii’s Barking Sands Beach. If you really want, can probably get you to these beaches. But if you’d like something more sedate, how about this?emit, when rubbed, a canine-like sound. This is a phenomenon caused by a particular quartz, and is actually present on beaches in the British Isles; but Barking Sands ramps the weirdness factor up to a whole other level by also housing a rocket-launch site. Oh, and a missile-defence testing centre. There’s barking, and there’s barking mad.






Whitehaven Beach

One of the world’s most beautiful seasides, this Whitsunday Island paradise boasts impossibly clear waters and the whitest of white sands. It’s 7km long, so finding space won’t be a problem. And at the northern end is Hill Inlet, a cove where the tide shifts the sand and water to create a stunning, swirling dazzle of colours. It’s one of the prettiest oceanic sights on the planet, and one uninterrupted by buffalos, Boeings or barking noises.


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