Who needs a relaxing fly and flop escape when you can spend your beach holiday taking part in an unusual activity? Hitting the coast doesn't have to be a traditional affair and with a whole host of weird and wonderful things to do at the beach, you'll want to add these quirky experiences to your list.
Whether you're heading to Cornwall or St Lucia, there's something different to do at the seaside. Newquay might be Britain's surfing capital but one hotel serves up a more unusual activity for groups of friends on an adrenaline-fuelled break. Guests can explore the rugged Cornish coastline on an extra-large (16ft) giant inflatable board which holds up to eight people for a Monster SUP Coasteering adventure.
For those who like to move gracefully above and below the water, the British Virgin Islands offer Mermaid Experiences, which teach you the basics of swimming with a tail and how to show off cool tricks. And swimming in the Maldives is more exciting than ever thanks to the night snorkelling experiences on offer. On a night-time snorkel, you can witness the otherworldly bioluminescent plankton that leaves the waves glowing in the dark above the coral polyps that feed on it.
Discover some of the most amazing things you never knew you could do at the beach.
Weird and wonderful beach activities
Weird and wonderful beach activities
Awaken your senses by performing YOGAqua (yoga on stand-up paddleboards) on the glistening, moonlit waters of Skiathos with the stars sparkling overhead for a truly idyllic and unforgettable atmosphere at the Skiathos Princess. Days with a full moon are revered in the Ashtanga yoga tradition due to the understanding that the moon affects tidal rhythms. As humans are made up of 70 per cent water, the moon is said to have a similar effect, amplifying energy levels. This makes the full moon not only a perfect time to practice, but also an incredibly beautiful and memorable experience.
At Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa, you can bombard your senses as you experience blind dining on the beach. For 24 hours of pure indulgence, you'll be spoiled with five different dining experiences with bespoke menus tailored to your individual taste, the highlight of which is blind-folded dining on the beach. You'll be escorted to a private location on the waterfront before enjoying a three-course banquet crafted from your favourite ingredients. The sounds of the waves lapping at the shore, the feeling of the gentle breeze on the skin and the rubbing of sand between the toes will be the sole accompaniment to the dinner in the dark.
Styled like a Portuguese palace and located close to the beautiful natural park of Ria Formosa, the five-star Conrad Algarve offers a very unique beach activity of playing and splashing about with Portuguese water dogs. The Obamas' chosen pet, this interesting breed was originally taught by the Romans to herd fish and retrieve nets, with their webbed feet powering them through water. Hotel guests can meet with the breeder, then depart on a scenic boat trip with the dogs and, if they are lucky, to even splash about in the wild with the beloved creatures.
Learn to move gracefully both above and below the water on the sandy beaches of Virgin Gorda with Dive BVI's Mermaid Experiences. A Mermaid Instructor will teach you the basics of swimming with a tail, but also how to show off cool tricks and provide fun photo opportunities. Choose between a group scheduled session or your own customised lesson to ensure an unforgettable time under the sea. As long as the mer-conditions are favourable, Mermaid Instructors can teach anywhere with chest-deep water levels to give you a fun and safe experience.
Coral Spawning happens once a year and is one of nature's most spectacular and rare performances. A handful of guests at Anse Chastanet in St Lucia are lucky enough to witness this marvel annually as the natural wonder occurs right off the beaches of the charming resort. It happens when coral release millions of packets of egg and sperm cells that appear as massive underwater clouds of white and pink upward moving 'snowfall'. Each year, the Anse Chastanet scuba diving team incredibly and accurately predicts the night spawning and prepares to take novice and experienced divers and snorkelers to observe the remarkable phenomenon which turns the seas yellow and pink.
Boasting one of the healthiest reefs in the Maldives, Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa is one of the leading dive resorts in the country and is never more stunning than at night. On a night-time snorkel, you can witness the otherworldly bioluminescent plankton. Twinkling like millions of tiny blue stars in the shallows, this marine phenomenon will leave you truly awestruck, as waves appear to glow in the dark above the coral polyps that feed on it. Elsewhere during a one-hour guided snorkelling tour, swimmers can take a closer look at the night-time reef where parrot fish sleep.
Cornwall's Headland Hotel offers a Surf Sanctuary which runs surfing, kite surfing and, more unusually, Monster SUP Coasteering. Guests can explore the rugged Cornish coastline on an extra-large (16ft) giant inflatable board for up to eight people with the fun, adrenaline-fuelled activity. It's a great way to see the shoreline with a group of friends and less physically inclined types can come along for the ride without being relied upon to paddle.
For a thrilling (and fast!) way to get down to Turtle Beach, guests on the super-luxurious Necker Island can try whizzing down on a zip line. Stretching from The Great House to the far end of the beach, it only takes seconds and once you come to a stop the staff will have Champagne uncorked for your arrival. While there are plenty of places to lie on the beach, Turtle Beach is a peaceful palm-fringed spot, with hammocks hanging between the trees, sun loungers to relax on and snorkelling equipment for floating around in the calmer water after your exciting zip wire ride.
Set on 400 acres of lush tropical grounds, Jamaica's five-star resort Half Moon boasts two miles of private beach wrapped around a half-moon-shaped bay and an array of activities, including equestrian experiences such as Turf and Surf, a ride giving you the opportunity to sprint across the sandy beaches and swim with horses. The Turf and Surf allows you take a short trek to a nearby beach across the sand, before de-tacking and riding bare back into the pristine Caribbean Sea. You'll head out into the deeper waters, where neither you nor your horse can touch the floor. Start by swimming on the horses' back before dismounting and swimming side by side, accompanied by an experienced instructor.
Mirihi Island, a bare-foot luxury, boutique hotel located in the South Ari Atoll, only a 30-minute sea plane from Male, Maldives, runs a beach cinema every Friday evening. As the sun sets, guests can get cosy under an increasingly starry sky. Munching on popcorn, they can relax into serene island life while watching one of their favourite films on the big screen. The resort is also home to one of the country’s largest telescopes, so once night has fallen and the film is put to bed everyone can turns admiring the rings of Saturn and moons of Jupiter.
On the beaches of the Eyre Peninsula, in Coffin Bay, you can wade out to sea with a local expert to harvest and taste the area's world-famous Oysters knee-deep in the water. The stunning coastline of the Eyre Peninsula is a seafood hotspot in Australia, renowned for its oysters in restaurants across the country. Ben Catterall, a local resident of Coffin Bay and owner of the 1802 Oyster Bar & Bistro, offers tours across the bay for you to learn the history of the area and how the oysters are harvested. Once you're armed with facts about the farming practices of the famous Coffin Bay Oyster, you'll don some waders and head from the beach to an oyster punt to harvest fresh oysters straight from the water.