It’s the last leg of summer, which has us pining for spontaneous vacations to faraway places. Trips to the beach offer a final reprieve from the cold months ahead. As you wind down from another wonderful summer, we wanted to leave you with a few photos of some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. Colorful sand, local wildlife, and exotic locations populate this stunning selection of seaside destinations. It’s never too soon to start planning your next trip.
Anse Source d’Argent, Seychelles
Pink sand, majestic boulders, sparkling water, and home to some of the rarest birds in the world.
Sancho Bay, Brazil
A snorkeling paradise thanks to its crystal clears water and a stunning array of sea creatures. Exotic birds and flora tucked in the lush forests are a favorite of photographers.
The Maldive Islands, Maldives
“Visitors to the Maldives realize they’re in for a magical trip as soon as they step out of the airport and immediately onto a waiting seaplane. Yes, your final stop is so remote you must travel there by seaplane,” writes the Daily News of the Maldives. The popular destination is a favorite for luxurious getaways and free-spirited travelers alike. Keep an eye out for five different species of sea turtles that dwell on the islands.
Glass Beach, Hawaii
The pounding ocean waves smoothed and weathered these pieces of glass over time (anywhere from ten to 30 years) on Glass Beach, located on the island of Kauai.
Mosquito Bay, Puerto Rico
One of the most striking bioluminescent bays in the world, this national natural landmark lights up at night. The seawater appears neon blue when the sun goes down due to an organism that glows when the water is disturbed. The surrounding deserted beaches are also famous for feral horses.
Vík í Mýrdal, Iceland
Black basalt sand (volcanic rock), families of curious seabirds, towering cliffs, and a fascinating folkloric history makes the Vík a draw for travelers. “The legend was that there were three trolls who were pulling a [three-masted] ship to the shore unsuccessfully, but they were caught by the sunlight at dawn and turned them into needles of rock.”
Red Beach, Greece
Red lava cliffs stretch over turquoise water — warmer than your average swimming spot since the volcanic rocks absorb heat. Scarlet sand and rocky pathways evoke an otherworldly landscape.
Papakolea Beach, Hawaii
Hawaii’s own emerald isle is one of four green sand beaches in the world — and possibly the most beautiful. The color comes from the mineral olivine (a kind of magnesium iron silicate). The olivine crystals eroded from lava rocks. The beach isn’t easy to travel to, but the jade sand between your toes is worth it.
Pfeiffer Beach, California
Trek to Big Sur for a dreamy, violet beach. Mineral quartz and manganese garnet deposits that wash down the hillside color the sand. The nearby Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park offers another fantastic view of the area.
Iriomote Island, Japan
Look for star-shaped sand on the island:
The local legends states that star sand was made of the tiny skeletons of the offspring of the Southern Cross and the North Star, who were killed by a giant serpent right after being born in the ocean. But according to science, these beautiful particles are the exoskeletons of millions of foraminifera — marine protozoans — that are believed to be fossil evidence dating back 550 million years ago, one of the oldest fossils known to man.