Types of Beaches

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Even if you’re a dedicated beach enthusiast, you may not have experienced, or even heard about, all the different kinds of beaches in the world. Beaches are shaped by numerous forces. The amount and type of wave action governs the size of the grains of sand. The rocks and other materials available alter the makeup of the sand, from its color to its texture; and the sand itself affects the beach’s slope. If you want to see a wide variety of beaches on your travels, look for the following:

White-sand beaches—Beaches with white sand make for beautiful photographs when contrasted with lush greenery and blue sky and sea, and they’re very popular. In most cases, the sand on these beaches consists of either quartz or small bits of coral.

Black-sand beaches—On the other end of the color spectrum, beaches near sources of black rock, like Hawaii’s volcanic basalt, can appear dark gray or black.

Seashell beaches—A few beaches around the world are made up entirely of seashells. Their compositions vary, but examples can be found in Australia, South Africa, and the United States.

Red-sand beaches—Coastlines that feature large deposits of iron-rich rock and volcanic rock can end up bright red in color. Hawaii has one red-sand beach, Greece has another, and the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador have a third.

Green-sand beaches—A few places have beaches with green sand derived from crystals of the mineral Olivine. When wave action erodes away lighter grains of sand, only the heavy Olivine is left behind, thus giving the beaches an otherworldly hue.

Beaches of geometric rocks—They may not be the best for basking in the sun or going swimming, but a few beaches in the world feature striking displays of rock. Ireland’s Giants Causeway consists of a certain kind of basalt that fractures in such a way as to leave interlocking hexagonal pillars that look much too regular to be natural.

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