Discarded bottles are just one source for all the colorful remnants that make up Glass Beach. // © 2017 Wikimedia Commons
Feature image (above): Visitors can walk atop the basalt columns near the shore at Giant’s Causeway. // © 2017 Wikimedia Commons
It’s that time of year again: Temperatures are rising, department stores are rolling out their supply of swimsuits and soon everyone will spend their weekends at the beach. But that doesn’t mean all beach vacations have to be the same. Plan clients a beach trip to remember by considering the following five unique beaches.
Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland
Thanks to volcanic activity some 60 million years ago, this stretch of northern Irish coastline consists of tens of thousands basalt columns made from molten lava. There are plenty of trails available for visitors to be able to take in what this attraction offers, including a nearly 2-mile loop to Shepherd’s Steps, which travels to the main coastline.
Opened in 2012, a nearby visitors’ center contains an interactive exhibit about Giant’s Causeway, available year-round.
A fee of about $10 covers admission, parking and access to the visitors’ center.
Glass Beach, Fort Bragg, Calif.
The story of how this beach came about isn’t the most glamorous one. From 1906 to 1967, people would dump trash ranging from cars to bottles over the cliffs and into the ocean, where the sea would subsequently take this trash and turn it into small treasures.
Nowadays, people can find the remnants of the discarded items in the form of colorful glass particles that have washed ashore three different locations in Fort Bragg, Calif.. The most-visited site is MacKerricher State Park.
Treasure hunters and those simply fascinated by shiny objects can spend a few hours searching for and taking pictures of different-colored sea glass. Sadly, however, none of it can be taken home since the sea glass is technically considered park property.
Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia
Located in the Australian state of Victoria, the Great Ocean Road spans 151 miles along the coastline. This Australian National Heritage site boasts ideal surfing spots and picturesque rainforest trails, but the main attraction here is a collection of towering limestone stacks called The 12 Apostles.
These rock formations have transformed from cliffs to arches and then to towers thanks to millions of years of ocean erosion. That continuing erosion has knocked down four of the 12 towers, leaving only eight standing. Travelers only need to take a roughly three-hour drive west of Melbourne to visit and walk along this natural wonder.
Hot Water Beach, the Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand
Get to this New Zealand beach two hours before or after low tide and experience the phenomenon that makes it famous. It might seem alarming at first to see beachgoers dig up a shallow hole in the sand near the shore, but it’s for a good reason.
Just before and after low tide, naturally heated mineral water will begin bubbling up through the sand from deep below the surface. This water will quickly fill the hole and, voila, visitors will have their very own hot spring right at the edge of the ocean. Guests should make sure they know when low tide takes place before heading out, and they should pack a small shovel to dig the hole.
Shell Beach, Western Australia
At first glance, Shell Beach in Western Australia may look like a typical white-sand beach. But upon further inspection, visitors will soon find that the sand is no ordinary sand. In fact, the sand is actually made of billions of small mollusk shells that have washed ashore after the mollusks burrowed themselves in the shallow ocean floor.
These shells were once used to build nearby buildings, some of which are still standing and can be seen today. The ocean is also great for swimming, especially for beginners, as its high salinity makes it very easy for people to float near the surface.