No Yellow Sand Between These Toes!

No Yellow Sand Between These Toes!

When you think ‘Beach’, do you think of walking on pink sand? Sunbathing on a beach with no sand, just shells?

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When you think ‘Beach’, do you think of walking on pink sand? Sunbathing on a beach with no sand, just shells? Or almost getting burnt by the hot water?


Well you should pack your bags for the beach and get yourself to these destinations, because they’re not your usual yellow sand quartz type!

Shell Beach, L’Haridon Bight, Shark Bay, Western Australia

A big fan of shells? Then how about a stretch of shells 120km long and 7 to 10m deep?

Millions of tiny Coquina bivalve shells have called this UNESCO site in WA home, because luckily for them this area has such a high salt concentration, that many species of animals can’t survive here – including their predators – and they’ve been loving it for thousands of years!

These ideal living conditions for the cockles means that they have happily lived and died here, and hence the whole beach is covered in their shells, which have been washed up to the shore by the waves.


Rain water dissolves the calcium carbonate (of which the shells are made up of) to form limestone, and this used to be sawn off to make building blocks.

Many of Shark Bay’s old buildings were built from the Coquina limestone blocks, however, this practice of mining the limestone, or taking any of the shells has been stopped due to the area’s significance as a UNESCO site.

It’s a beautiful sight to see, but a little painful for the soles of the feet, as you actually will be walking on shells, so bring shoes! 


No yellow sand on my toes here!

Green Sand Beach, Pakakolea Beach/Mahana  Beach, South Point, Kaú, Hawaii

No, it’s not moss! This is only one of four beaches in the world with bright green sand (the others being Talofofo Beach, Guam; Punta Cormorant on Floreana Island in the Galapagos Island; and Hornindalsvatnet, Norway).

Hawaii emerged from the sea millions of years ago due to volcanic activity, and there are still active volcanoes on the island.

The ‘green’ on the beach is made up of the eroded mineral olivine which comes from the surrounding cinder cone (volcanic debris). Olivine is highly rich in iron and magnesium, and is one of the first crystals to form as the volcanic magma cools.

Due to the strong rip tides, the beach is great for exploring or sunbathing. Swimming is recommended only when the water is very calm.


The olivine is continually being washed out to sea by rain and the tides – so once the cinder cone is fully eroded away, the beach will look like an ordinary beach with yellow sand.

So it may be tempting, but removing any sand from the beach is prohibited.

The beach isn’t the easiest to get to, the road is very bumpy so you need to either have a 4WD, take a leisurely but windy hike amongst the lava rocks (closed toe shoes recommended, and make sure you bring food, water and a hat, as it will take at least 1.5 hours), or get a lift from one of the locals (for a fee of course!)…but as mentioned above, it won’t be around for ever, so it might be worth the effort!


Pink Sand Beach, Harbour Island, Bahamas 

This beach certainly ticks a lot of boxes for many beach goers: Soft, powdery sand, clean, clear, calm, warm and shallow turquoise waters and no huge crowds…but wait, there’s more!

The sand is not yellow – it’s pink! And it’s considered one of the very best pink beaches in the world!

The pink colour comes from microscopic shelled animals known as Foraminifera, and they have bright pink or red shells.

The shells are broken down by the action of the waves, mixes with the native sand, and washes up onto the beach from the reef just off the Island. 


You can swim, snorkel, dive and even do a spot of fishing here.

And at this beach, you can take some of the sand home as a souvenir!


Purple Sand Beach, Big Sur, California

If purple’s more your colour, why not visit Purple Sand Beach?

It’s easily accessible and the coastline is wide and flat. 

The purple in the sand is because of the presence of manganese garnet, which has been carried down by rivers and streams and deposited as the water moves into the ocean.

The colour is at its best after rain, but is still a great hue every other day.

And it’s not just the purple sand that attracts people to this beach, there is a big rock arch that Big Sur is famous for, and if you bring walking shoes, you can climb the rock formations that form the coastline.


There is a small parking lot close to the beach, and then it’s just a short walk through some trees to the uncrowded beach.

Note though that this beach is for day use only.

You also won’t get in trouble for taking some of this sand home as a souvenir! 


Hot Water Beach, Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand

For those of you who won’t go into the water because it’s always too cold and never hot enough, then hop on the plane to Hot Water Beach, because it’s exactly that – hot.

Sixty four degrees hot, to be exact! And full of mineral-ly goodness too (calcium, magnesium and potassium).

The hot water comes from huge underground reservoirs of superheated water, which escapes to the surface and luckily by the time it filters up through the sand, it has cooled  down (somewhat!) in the process.


Apart from the ‘under sand’ heating, there is a beautiful native forest that comes right down to the rocks and shore, great walking tracks, and sheltered and secluded spots to escape the crowds and sunbathe.

Another bonus is that anytime of the year is a great time to visit - although it is less crowded in winter.

Note that Hot Water Beach is also known for its strong rip currents and large waves. Travellers should be aware that the hot springs are close to the sea, and there may be large breaking waves. So swim between the flags and don’t swim to the off shore rocks!


Make sure you come 2 hours before or after low tide (otherwise the tide will come and take your hot spring away), dig a hole (make sure you come with a shovel or spade) to create your own personal hot tub, and then relax…and if the water in your sand tub proves too hot for you, just cool it down with that cold sea water (so bring a bucket too!)! 

Star Sand Beach, Irimote Island, Japan

Yes, the tiny grains of sand do look like stars…except they’re not sand, they’re actually the shells of tiny (barely a millimetre across) organisms called Baclogypsina sphaerulata which have been washed up onto the shore by the millions!

The shells are made out of calcium carbonate and have 5 or 6 pointed arms that help the organisms move from place to place and store their food.

They live among the sea grass and prefer shallow water, and often use the sea algae as anchors.

Even though there is an abundance of them, the best time to see the stars is after a typhoon, when the strong ocean currents have washed them up from the sea floor.


Some of them date back to 550 million years, so you may be looking at some of the oldest fossils known to man.

And if you’re lucky, you may even find some younger ones which are still alive.

Almost 90% of the island is covered in mountains, subtropical rainforests, large mangrove forests and waterfalls, and is considered the ‘last unexplored region of Japan’.

Discovered in 1965, the nocturnal Irimote cat (Iriomote Yamaneko) is a new species of wild cat which can only be found on the island.


The locals also have a less scientific and more romantic story for these ‘stars’: the star shells are the tiny children of the Southern Cross and the North Star. They were born in the ocean off Okinawa, but were killed by a giant serpent, and all that remain of them are their tiny skeletons…whichever version you believe in, you can still take some of them home as a memento of your visit.

Beach in a meadow, Playa De Gulpiyuri, Llanes, Spain

A beach 300m inland?

You better believe it - this small 40m beach is in the middle of a meadow! You actually can’t see it from the ‘real’ shoreline.

When you are at this beach, there are fields behind you, cliffs in front and the ocean is nowhere in sight…it was created by a collapsed sink hole in the limestone cliffs, and the salt water from the ocean has bored through the earth, creating a network of underground tunnels, feeding the beach with water and the obligatory lapping waves.


The water can be a little cold, as it has been underground for a while, and the beach is tidal, so it’s best to plan your visit when it is high tide.

To get there, you need either a GPS or directions from a local – there is a dirt road to drive over, and you will need to walk through the corn/vegetable fields for about 200m, and you’re there!

It’s at its busiest and most crowded on the weekends, but will be worth the trip just to see this little beach in the middle of the fields.

And if you wanted a normal sized beach, just follow the trail in the meadow, past the grazing goats and you’ll reach the ocean! 


 Schoolhouse Beach, Washington Island, Wisconsin, USA

If you’re not keen on getting sand stuck in your swimmers, between your toes and everywhere else, then Schoolhouse beach is the place for you.

There’s no sand in sight, just smooth limestone rocks which were polished by glaciers thousands of years ago, sitting in a quiet sheltered harbour.

The name ‘Schoolhouse’ came from a log school house that was built there in 1850, but has now been replaced by picnic tables.

It is recommended that you bring some shoes, as your feet can get pretty sore if you walk on the pebbles for too long, and extra towels for padding if you plan to sunbake.

Have fun at the bay, go diving, rafting or snorkelling, skim rocks along the water, swim, build sculptures – but don’t take any of the pebbles home as a souvenir, too many have been taken in the past, so there is a fine if you are caught trying to smuggle some out!


Panjin Red Beach, Panjin, China

No sand at this beach either – it’s seaweed this time! The seaweed grows during April and May, is green all summer, and then turns a vivid red in autumn, with the red colour the strongest in September.

The beach is located in the largest (600 000 ha) wetland and reed marsh in the world, and is home to 260 kinds of birds including the endangered Crown Cranes and Black Beaked Gulls and 400 wild animals.

It is a protected site, so most of it is not accessible to the public, although a section is open for viewing up to 5pm each day.


Red Beach Dock is where you can walk above the beach on the 618m ‘Nine Bend Gallery Bridge’, a sustainably designed structure made entirely out of wood.

There is also a 2000m² wood sightseeing platform which allows for fantastic views of Red Beach.

Each March (when the seaweed isn’t red), migratory birds stop off here on their route from East Asia to Australia.


So if you are visiting around then, it would still be worth going to the Reed Sea Crane-watching Area, which allows travellers to bird watch on a specially built pavilion.

The area isn’t just significant for its ecosystem, the seaweed’s seeds and roots are edible, and saved the local people from famine in the 1950’s, and the reeds are used to make paper.


Note: We at Fast Cover Travel Insurance do our very best research to make sure that the information we provide is correct. However, we recommend that you also do your own research regarding these travel destinations before you travel.


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