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Best alternative beaches around the world

The classic beach holiday, whether it involves baking on white sand or shivering on Brighton Pier, will always hold a special place in our hearts. But if you’re looking for something a little different this summer we've got some interesting alternatives for you.

Hot Water Beach, New Zealand

Hot Water Beach, New Zealand

Hot Water Beach, Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand

Named after the hot springs that bubble up to the surface two hours before and after low tide, Hot Water Beach in New Zealand is the world’s most famous DIY spa. Every day visitors make the trip to dig shallow holes along this popular beach and then spend as long as possible soaking in their improvised hot tubs. Spades are available to rent, or bring your own and enjoy the pre-relaxation workout. Surfers and the surf-curious can also head to Hot Water Beach TOP 10 Holiday Park on the Coromandel Peninsula for surf lessons and quality waves.

"Cow Beach", India

Anjuna Beach (Cow Beach), Goa, India

As cows are sacred animals in India, they have a lot more freedom than most livestock and are frequently seen holding up traffic in the city centres. It stands to reason, therefore, that they enjoy an occasional trip to the beach. In fact cows are such fans of the seaside that Anjuna Beach is nicknamed Cow Beach. Take a trip down to admire the breathtaking sunsets and to really appreciate the novelty of a cow going for a paddle. Once you've finished marvelling at the bovine butterfly crawl check into the Village Villa “Sunny Cow” (there seems to be a theme developing...) and venture out to the local flea markets.

Papakolea Beach, Hawaii

Papakolea Beach, Hawaii

Papakolea Beach, Ka Lae, Hawaii, USA

At a distance the sweeping green slopes at Papakolea Beach look more like gentle English countryside than tropical Hawaiian beach. Move closer, however, and you’ll see that this is actually one of only four green beaches in the world. Green or “olivine” sand is produced by the sea slowly eroding the Pu’u o Mahana cinder cone. Meaning that visitors can technically claim to have walked on a volcano without having to leave their sun loungers or, in the case of Hawaii Hideaway, their ocean-view hammocks.

"Star Sand Beach", Japan

Hoshizuna-no-hama (Star Sand Beach), Iriomote, Japan

Most of us are familiar with metaphors comparing our place in the universe to grains of sand or stars in the sky, but did you know that there’s an actual, physical, place where these two things combine? On the Japanese island of Taketomi, the Hoshizuna-no-hama or Star Sand Beach is covered in millions of tiny star-shaped Foraminifera. And they’re almost as breathtaking as their heavens-based namesakes. For travellers after a more down-to-earth experience the nearby Uminoie Painukaji provides authentic Japanese hospitality.

Black Sand Beach, Iceland

Black Sand Beach, Iceland

Black Sand Beach, Vik, Iceland

If you’re feeling sinister check out the Black Sand Beach in Vik, Iceland. Surrounded by basalt pillars, craggy cliffs, and wheeling birds, this beach looks like something out of a (hopefully) far off dystopian future. Local folklore holds that the Atlantic rollers that batter the beach are the spirits of trolls who were swallowed by the sea and the ghost of a murdered woman haunts the cliffs. Visitors looking to ghost spot in luxury should check into the wonderfully atmospheric Guesthouse Carina. Not for the faint hearted, this beach is still a must-see.

Shell Beach, Australia

Shell Beach, Australia

Shell Beach, Shark Bay, Australia

As one of only two beaches in the world made entirely of shells, Shell Beach (wonder where they got the name) was made a World Heritage Site in 1991. Which thankfully means that visitors can still enjoy this gorgeous natural phenomena. Although do remember to wear shoes, it’s a lot easier to appreciate the sweeping majesty of Nature if your feet aren’t being ripped to shreds by a million tiny shells. Admire Shell Beach from a distance (or tend your wounds in comfort) by checking into the seafront Tradewinds Seafront Apartments.

Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

Giant’s Causeway Beach, Northern Ireland

Is it a bird? Is it a beach? Is it, actually, 40,000+ interlocking basalt columns? Well the locals are fairly certain that the Giant’s Causeway, while still being absolutely stunning, is not a beach. The result of an ancient volcanic eruption stretched along 6km of the northern coast of Northern Ireland, almost every travel guide ever published has got the Giant's Causeway listed as a beach. And it’s kind of easy to see why... Once you've visited the "beach" check out the Old Bushmills Distillery just up the road and relax at the nearby Ballylinny Holiday Cottages.