Saturday, March 17, 2012

Five Spectacular Secret Beaches

guest post by Craig Patterson

Considering that for many people luxury holidays are epitomised by the classic white sand, blue ocean and swaying palm trees archetype, there does seem to be a growing attitude that if you’ve seen one stretch of coastline you’ve seen them all. Perhaps with the proliferation of international travel over the last 30 years it was inevitable that attitudes towards beach travel would become defined by popular culture, where now juxtaposed against the palms and the parasols is the cocktail bar, the burger van and an army of distractingly colourful novelty inflatables.

Like any form of popular culture though, travel or otherwise, there will always be reactionaries, groups and individuals who want to break from the norm or who simply aren’t satisfied by the commonplace - they seek the unusual, the adventurous and exciting. There is something inimitably rewarding and fundamentally appealing about walking the unbeaten (or at least less popular) track; a sense of discovery, awe and privilege that comes only from the knowledge that by simply being there and seeing what you now see, you are experiencing something that very few other people have and will ever experience in their lives.
Coastlines are magical places, marking the periphery between two worlds. Without further ado then here is a list of some of the most remote and beautiful beaches on earth.

1) Skeleton Coast, Namibia - So here already, is a slight compromise, not so much a secret the vast Skeleton Coast National Park is larger than the metropolitan areas of New York and Tokyo combined. Despite its desolation it is a beautiful and stirring landscape which earns its rather morbid nickname from the number of shipwrecks and whale skeletons which litter the extensive sands. Rolling mists and convergent tides make the waters just off the Namibian coast notoriously difficult to navigate although watching from onshore the force and drama of the waters is a humbling site. A helicopter ride over the divergent sands is a particularly rewarding experience revealing the sheer scale of the region. Despite all this the Skeleton Coast still remains a largely unexplored area of Namibia which as a country is undergoing through somewhat of a tourist renaissance.

2) Sandwood Bay, Scotland - Perhaps overlooked by many, Scotland is a beautiful and rugged part of the world that withholds a superfluity of isolated escapes that have over the years inspired some of the great works of art and literature. Sandwood Bay, though perhaps lacking the tropical climate of other features in this list, certainly makes up for it with unprecedented spectacle and natural grandeur. A four mile trek from the nearest road, which is itself nothing more than a fine thread of tarmac it’s likely that you will not see another soul while you are here. The mile and a half wide bank of pinkish sand is flanked by high cliffs and just out near the rocks stands the sentinel-like Am Buachaille stack.

3)Pansy Island, Mozambique - A short dhow ride from the port of Inhambane and 30 minutes from the remote Bazaruto Archipelago, Pansy Island is technically a sand bank, usually only visible at low tides. An ideal getaway from the nearby luxury resorts that have sprung up around the islands of Bazaruto the sand is stunningly white and perennially warm waters ensure this diminutive island is perfect for relaxing, picnicking and embracing the beauty of the Indian Ocean. The beach is also littered with Pansy shells, the creature from which the island takes it’s name; a curious and very rare relative of the sea urchin (though quite harmless) which features a striking five-leafed pansy design on the back of its shell.

4)Papak’lea (Green Sand) Beach, Big Island, Hawaii - The islands of Hawaii are home to some of the most striking coastline in the world, the black sand beach of Big Island, the iron rich earth of red beach in Maui and perhaps most unusual of all the otherworldly green sand of Papak’lea Beach, also on Big Island. The surreal volcanic landscape of Big Island asserts it as one of the most spectacular places on earth forged from the mineral rich molten rock that continues to spew forth from the three active volcanoes on the island. At the most southern tip of Big Island (also the most southerly of the United States) and a good trek or off-road ride from the nearest road you can find the famous Green sand beach which because of the olivine crystals deposited there exhibits its now famous green glow.

5) Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Islands, Australia - Perhaps a little contentious as its popularity increases to grow, there is however no denying the beauty and brilliance of this sheltered bay nestled off the coast of Northern Queensland. Accessible by boat, anchorage is usually found at the opposite side of the island which then requires a short trek through the leafy forests to access the beach. Perhaps most rewarding is first trekking to the nearby viewing platform that looks out from the trees over the bay and promises one of the most stunning views in the world. Beautiful, unspoiled and peaceful; the sands here are brilliantly white and rich in silica which, as the local guides will attest, when rubbed on the skin helps to encourage the perfect sun tan. The waters are ideal for swimming and snorkelling and sea turtles are known to frequent the bay(along with jellyfish at certain times in the year but stinger suits are usually provided).

Craig is an experienced travel writer and guest blogger and works closely with Turquoise Holidays, experts in luxury holidays and honeymoons.

Photo Credits: Whitehaven Beach, Skeleton Coast, Sandwood Bay, Pansy Island, Green Sand Beach


Heather on her travels said...

My husband is odd to Namibia this summer - wish I could get to see some of those beaches on the Skeleton coast - was there anything to do with slavery in it's name I wonder as well as Whale skeletons.

Mark H said...

@heather: I am not certain but I think the skeletons refer to a combination of shipwrecks and the remains of whaling.

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