Sand and surf is all you need for a beach, but a truly unique beach brings together other forces of nature. From volcanic remnants and mineralized sediment to coral, glass, and super salinity, some beaches are as much a lesson in history and geology as a beautiful place to relax. The simple pleasures of sand are actually pretty complex in structure, so it makes sense that beaches differ so much across the globe. Check out these 10 delightfully unusual beach destinations that make for a great stroll, a peaceful escape, and an unforgettable experience.

Shell Beach, Australia


Millions of creamy white cockle shells make up this beach on Shark Bay in Australia, creating a dramatic scene of white and blue. The small clams are able to reproduce so rapidly in the unusually saline waters that natural predators can’t possibly keep up, and the small shells are consistently deposited on the shores – the shell layer is almost 9 meters deep. It’s one of only two shell beaches in the world, since the high level of salinity is incredibly rare, and its position on Australia’s western coast means it’s a bit off the radar of most beach-going tourists.