Loango National Park, Gabon
Situated between the Nkomi and Ndogo Lagoons, Loango National Park is truly a jewel of Africa’s western coast. Sorry beach lovers, this one’s reserved for the animals.
1,550 km of savanna, pristine beaches, forest, and mangroves are home to be elephants, buffalos, hippos, gorillas, and leopards- all of which are often found venturing the white sanded coast. Don’t be surprised to see most of these animals taking a dip…or surfing. National Geographic’s Michael Nichols took several well known pictures of surfing hippos here.
Cow Beach, Goa, India
Cow Beach offers the usual amenities- surf, sand, and sun, and bovine babes. Heifers flock to the sand by the hundreds here, and despite the sanitary issues, so do the tourists. Laying out on the sand next to a four legged friend or two is a common occurrence at Cow Beach.
Papakolea Beach, Hawaii
Sure black sand is common in Hawaii, but you can even find green! There are only two beaches in the world that are green, one is on the western Pacific island of Guam, and the other is here on the Big Island of Hawaii. Why green? Olivine crystals fill the shore, making it look like a grass verge.
Hot Water Beach, New Zealand
Found on the Coromandel Peninsula, this strip is the seaside equivalent of floor heating. Beneath the sand lie several subterranean hot springs which filter up through the surface. At low tide, visitors can do a little digging and enjoy their own hot water pools right there on shore.
Maho Beach, St Maarten
Just a fence away from the Princess Juliana International Airport, Maho Beach is the perfect place to watch jumbo jets swooping in to land. It’s a planespotter’s haven; apparently even the Sunset Beach Bar has a speaker that broadcasts transmissions between pilots and the airport’s control tower.
Traigh Mhor Beach, Scotland
While Scotland’s Outer Hebrides might just look like your average beach, come low tide it’s a pop-up airport. Planes land directly onto the wide sands of Traigh Mhor! Overcast? No problem, on a cloudy day, vehicles will pile up in the car park to provide extra lighting.
Barking Sand Beach, Hawaii
The name says it all. This beach actually barks like a dog…well sort of. The golden grains on sand here emit, when rubbed, a canine-like sound. The phenomenon is caused by a particular kind of quartz that can also be found on beaches in the British Isles. To outdo its noisy competitors, Barking Sands tops it off by housing a rocket-launch site and a missile defense testing center.
Travel tip shared by MapSales