Not to be confused with Hidden Beach in Vallarta, Mexico, this Portuguese beauty on the Algarve coastline is a dome-shaped sea cave carved from the surrounding limestone cliffs. There’s no need for lofty beach umbrellas here, with a rocky dome over a powdery golden beach. The best photo opportunity has to be under the cave’s aperture when sunlight streams through, casting a natural spotlight.
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At first glance, the Irish legend of two giants building a bridge connecting Scotland and Ireland almost seems believable. The nearly-perfect, hexagonal basaltic columns are in fact a result of intense volcanic activity in the region.
Most of the beaches in Iceland consist of glistening stretches of black sand because of volcanic activity in the country. This particular Icelandic beach, however, is home to massive chunks of white, glassy ice. The chunks, which are broken bits of ice-cold glaciers, contrast beautifully with the black sand.
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Thanks to the mineral olivine, which comes from the nearby cinder cone, this peculiar beach sparkles a brilliant green. It’s only one of the four beaches in the world with bright green sand, the others being Talofofo Beach, Guam; Punta Cormorant on Floreana Island in the Galapagos Islands; and Hornindalsvatnet in Norway.
Cutting into the clear turquoise water off Sicily’s southern coast is a massive, white marlstone boulder, smoothed by years of wind erosion. Its name, which translates to 'Turkish Steps', has violent origins, in which Arab pirates – referred to as “Turks” – once anchored their boats along the coast during their plundering days. These days, the boulder is frequently used a favourite sunbathing spot and a diving board for thrill seekers.
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What better way to gaze out across the great Southern Ocean than from high above the sandstone cliffs of Dunedin? The jagged coastline overlooks Tunnel Beach, a coveted gem that would be inaccessible if not for the 1870s hand-carved passageway leading into it. The journey through the rock is an interesting one – try to spot shell fragments, bones and fossils of prehistoric origin embedded in the narrow arch.
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Mother Nature displays her best performance yet at this beach. Come low tide, any beachgoer will be blown away by the imposing rock arches that front the coastline, giving credence to its name. The beach, which can only be accessed during this time, can be entered via narrow grottos. The more adventurous can also try their hand at some natural rock climbing for a more spectacular sea view.
Glass beaches are the perfect examples of nature’s reclamation efforts. These two locations were previously used as industrial dump sites, but after a massive clean-up and years of erosion, discarded glass pieces were smoothened to produce a glossy exterior, turning them into sea glass.