1Tunnel Beach (Dunedin, New Zealand)
Tunnel Beach, one of Dunedin, New Zealand's most popular tourist attractions, is visited by about 40,000 people each year.
In the 1870's John Cargill, son of Captain William Cargill, excavated a tunnel down to a secluded beach so that his family could bathe in privacy. The beach features massive sandstone boulders, mysterious graffiti carved into the cliffs and a dangerous rip tide that sadly drowned Cargill's youngest daughter.
Tunnel Beach is open year round, excluding lambing season from August to October. The popular walking track, opened in 1983, descends from 150 meters (490 ft) above sea level at its start, and winds for some 1200 meters to the top of the tunnel, close to a natural sea arch. The tunnel then descends 72 steps to the beach. Be careful — the path down is steep, dimly lit and can be very slippery following wet weather.
2Hoshizuna no Hama (Iriomote, Japan)
On the remote island of Iriomote in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan lies Hoshizuna no Hama. The name roughly translates to “star sand beach” for the star-shaped sand-like formations that can be found there. (See above.) The beach is home to tiny, one-celled organisms called Baclogypsina sphaerulata which have 5 or 6 pointed arms that help them move from place to place. Their outer shell is made of calcium carbonate, and when they die, they leave their exoskeletons behind to be washed up on the beach.
3Siesta Beach (Siesta Key, Florida)
Siesta Beach in Siesta Key, Florida looks like any other beach, but what makes it special is its sand. Most beaches are made up of pulverized coral, but here the sand is 99% pure quartz and is so reflective that it always feels cool underfoot. It is estimated to be millions of years old and originates in the Appalachian mountains.
4Punalu'u Black Sand Beach (Big Island, Hawaii)
Because of constant volcanic activity, you'll find unusual white, green and black sands on this Hawaiian island. Located on the southeastern Kau coast between Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and the small town of Naalehu, Punaluu Black Sand Beach is one of the most famous black sand beaches in the world. Coconut palms fringe the upper edge of the sand, and here you'll find large honu, or Hawaiian Green Sea turtles, basking on the beach. However — although it may be tempting — do not touch these protected turtles and do not remove any black sand from the beach.
5Bioluminescent beach (Maldives)
As if the Maldives weren't magical enough, check out this image of bioluminescent phytoplankton shot by Taiwanese photographer Will Ho, who posted what he thought was "blue sand" to Flickr.
The phytoplankton (called Lingulodinium polyedrum) emits light when stressed, be it by the lapping of waves or the carving action of a surfboard or boat, and creates what looks like a network of stars on the beach.
6Singing Beach (Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts)
Visitors who shuffle their feet on the dry sand of Manchester-by-the-Sea's Singing Beach will hear a distinct sound that is more creaking than melodic.
This phenomena has not been scientifically explained, but some believe that the sound is produced by the surface of one sand grain rubbing against the layer beneath it. The process is very delicate, as even the smallest amounts of pollution, dust, or organic matter on the sand can reduce friction enough to quell the sound. The best part of the beach for hearing singing sand is on the dry side above normal high tide lines.
7Chandipur Beach (Odisha, India)
At Chandipur Beach in eastern India, the sea recedes by as much as five kilometers every day, offering beachgoers an opportunity to literally walk into the sea.
Some like to ride a bike into the seabed. When asked if it was dangerous for people to do so with the impending high tide, Dasarath Dash, a coconut seller in the area, said no.
"The tide has its timings. Depending on the moon, the timings keep changing. It's mostly the locals, familiar with the tide's time, who take their bikes into the seabed. The others are thrilled just to even walk that distance," Dash said.
The best time to visit Chandipur is winter, between November and March — an elaborate beach festival showcasing the dance forms, art, and culture of the state, has become an annual affair here and takes place every February.
8Agonda Beach (Goa, India)
Love animals AND the beach? Well, look no further than Agonda beach, where there isn't much to do but hang out on the sand, go dolphin watching, partake in some fresh seafood or watch the sunset with the cows.
According to travelers, the cows spend the afternoon posing for photos with a steady stream of tourists (although “posing” makes it sound like they actually do something — they don't.) At the end of the day, as the sun drops toward the horizon, they settle into a nice spot on the beach, chew their cud, and watch the sun set. Twenty minutes later, as the tourists are leaving the beach for the day, the cows also make their way back to wherever they came from in a single file line.
9Genipabu Beach & Dunes (Natal, Brazil)
Genipabu (or Jenipabu) is a beach made up of shifting desert dunes that lay next to a lagoon and an environmental protection area. The dunes are movable because the hard winds in the Rio Grande do Norte coastline move the sand from one point to another, shaping the landscape. Activities most popular with tourists in the area are sandboarding (esquibunda), wild dune buggy rides and, of course, camel rides.
10Lego beach, (Cornwall, England)
Almost two decades ago, the ship Tokio Express was hit by an incredibly strong wave that tilted it, knocking 62 of its containers into the sea, just 20 miles from Land's End in Cornwall. One of the containers held 4.8 million pieces of Lego, and tiny pieces of the plastic construction toys continue to wash up along both the north and south coasts of Cornwall, as well as Devon, Wales, and Ireland. A Facebook page, Lego Lost at Sea is still documenting Lego hauls from the beach today.