White, yellow, brown and even black are all common sand colours – but pink? Three miles long, gentle and wonderfully wide, this otherwise textbook Bahamanian cove is a weird Barbie-colour due to microscopic coral insects called foraminifera: when they die, they considerately leave their pink shells behind to be crushed into the sand by waves. Fancy staying here? This one’s easy – holidaysplease.co.uk suggests holing up at the boutique and adjacent Pink Sands Resort, complete with 25 pastel-coloured cottages.
Oh, and sand also comes green, too. There are two green beaches in the world: one is on the remote Western Pacific island of Guam, and the other is this Hawaiian oddity on Big Island. The reason for the strange shade is, in this case, olivine crystals; the result is a shore that looks like a grass verge. Fancy staying here? The quirky Big Island B&B is Hawaiian-owned and full of local charm, set in an elegant old plantation house.
Set on the Coromandel Peninsula, this strip offers the seaside equivalent of under-floor heating. Subterranean hot springs filter up through the sand, and either side of low tide, visitors can burrow down and create their own hot-water pool in which to soak. It's a sort of peculiar, DIY thermal-bath experience. Fancy staying here? For proximity, try the Hot Water Beach Park on Hot Water Beach Road. For a dash more luxury not too far distant, Holidaysplease.co.uk suggests the historic Whitianga Hotel, set on the town’s pretty marina.
If you like a little aviation action with your beach holiday, this is ideal. Set just a fence away from one of the Princess Juliana International Airport’s runways, Maho is perfect for watching huge Boeings swooping in to land. As you’d expect, the cove has become a planespotter’s pilgrimage; its Sunset Beach Bar even reportedly has a speaker that broadcasts transmissions between pilots and the airport's control tower. Fancy staying here? The right room at the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort allows you to watch Boeings from your bed, or jumbos from the Jacuzzi...
Then again, any self-respecting aviation beach-buff knows that Maho doesn’t even compare to Barra, in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides – for here, the beach is also the runway. Twin Otters from Glasgow and Benbecula land directly on the wide sand of Traigh Mhor – or at least they do when the tide is out. Yep – it’s a pop-up airport. On a cloudy day (this is the Outer Hebrides, after all…), additional light is provided by vehicles in the car park. Fancy staying here? To get really close to the aviation action, try the Eoligarry self-catering cottage.
Sprawling Loango extends to miles of pristine beach, enabling animals including elephants, buffalos, wild pigs, gorillas and ‘surfing hippos’ taking a dip in the ocean. Fancy staying here? Try the coast-side Loango Lodge. It's advisible to leave your own trunks at home and just watch these strange swimming spectacles from the safety of the shore.
The madness of Goa's Cow Beach sees heifers hurdle and bulls blundering in search of a tasty lunch, with cattle generally sprawled on the brown sand while working on their tans. Despite the inevitable sanitary issues, the beach remains full of human visitors, too. Fancy staying here? There are actually a few beaches in Goa frequented by cows, but the classic is Palolem, between Gokarna and Majorda. Holidaysplease.co.uk recommends the SwaSwara Resort in Gokarna; it’s a bit hippie and holistic, but also peaceful and luxurious.
How about a beach that sounds like a dog? The squeaky golden grains on Hawaii’s Barking Sands Beach emit a canine-like sound when rubbed. This is a phenomenon caused by a particular kind of quartz, and is actually present on beaches in the British Isles; but Barking Sands ramps the weirdness factor up numerous notches by also housing a rocket-launch site. Oh, and a missile-defence testing centre. There’s barking, and there’s barking mad. Fancy staying here? Real devotees will hole up at the Barking Sands Beach Cottages Resort, which are part of the Missile Range and thus very, very close by – the only small snag being that you need to have served the US military to get digs here...
For much of the 1900s, locals in the coastal California town of Fort Bragg threw rubbish onto their local shoreline, a place known subtly as ‘The Dumps’. In 1967, the area was closed for a long, gradual clean-up; one aided, in part, by the ocean’s waves wearing down all the leftover glass into smooth, multi-coloured trinkets. ‘Glass Beach’ reopened in 2002 as part of the MacKerricher State Park, and is now a confirmed tourist attraction. Fancy staying here? The closest accommodation is the Glass Beach Inn, a dainty B&B, but as Fort Bragg is rather lacking in opulence, try the Heritage House Inn, 37 attractive seafront acres around an ivy-coloured main building in Little River.
Take the perfect white-sand beach of clichéd brochure covers, imagine the complete opposite and you’ll have some idea of what Punaluu looks like. It’s rocky, cold-watered and entirely black, its basalt sand being the product of ancient volcanic lava cooled by the sea. All of which seems to appeal to endangered Hawksbill turtles, who are regular frequenters of this curious cove. Fancy staying here? Sea Mountain Resort has a collection of condos and cottage-style ‘apartments’. There’s also an 18-hole golf course adjacent while just up the road is Kilauea, considered the most active volcano in the world...