Three Extraordinary Beaches

The word “beach” conjures up images of golden sands,  rolling waves, suntan lotion. But there are some more unusual beaches that don’t quite fit this mould, well worth exploring.

Here are three of my favourites…

Reynisfjara Black Beach – Vik (Iceland)

Featuring an impressive cliff of basalt columns, Reynisfjara black pebble beach is a great place for spotting birdlife, including puffins, fulmars and guillemots. Icelandic folklore tells of two trolls who attempted to drag a ship to land but were turned to stone as daylight broke, forming the spectacular basalt Reynisdrangar sea stacks that are clearly visible from the beach.




  • Reynisfjara is located on the south coast and is approximately 180 km (112 miles) from Reykjavik, about a 2 1/2 hour drive on the ring road (Highway One).
  • Jökulsárlón (the glacier lagoon that I showcased over here) is  200 km further east on the ring road.
  • Take extra care when visiting the area – the waves at Reynisfjara are especially strong and unpredictable, and there have been fatal accidents  at this beach.


Hopewell Rocks – Bay of Fundy (New Brunswick, Canada)

Formed by the world’s highest tides in the Bay of Fundy, the Hopewell Rocks – also known as the Flowerpot Rocks –  have been carved out of the cliffs by tidal erosion.


Visitors can walk on the ocean floor during low tide and kayak over the same area when the returning tides rise up to 4-storeys high. Here’s a representation of the change between high and low tide, as shown on here.




  • The Hopewell Rocks park is open from mid-May until mid-October and is located within an hour’s drive from the nearest airport at Moncton, New Brunswick (three hours from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and two hours from Prince Edward Island).
  • Plan your visit to coincide with the tides – you may want to visit at low tide to walk amongst the rocks sculptures or at high tide to see the formations surrounded by water…or maybe both! You can check the  times of the tides over here.
  • For more information on visiting The Rocks, head over to here.

Monmouth Fossil Beach – Lyme Regis (Dorset, UK)

Representing a significant part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, Monmouth Beach stretches from the harbour at Lyme Regis in West Dorset to Pinhay Bay, East Devon. A range of spectacular fossils, including giant marine reptiles, intricate crinoids, ammonites and even dinosaur remains, have been found along this coastline over the past two centuries. Today, fossils can still be found and collected in large numbers on the beach.




  • The best time to fossil hunt on Monmouth Beach is on a falling tide, when  the retreating sea re-deposits fossils on the foreshore. The rapidly eroding cliffs and foreshore ensure a fresh supply of fossils every day… but this brings a danger of rock falls, so always keep a safe distance from the cliff base.
  • Please be a responsible fossil collector! Only collect loose fossils and never hammer or dig into the cliff or rocky ledges. For more advice, read this.
  • The beach is very rocky, so wear sturdy walking shoes or boots.

4 thoughts on “Three Extraordinary Beaches

  1. “The word “beach” conjures up images of golden sands, rolling waves, suntan lotion. But there are some more unusual beaches that don’t quite fit this mould, well worth exploring.”

    Nat, I couldn’t agree with you more! I spent 20 years living in South Florida (Boca Raton) where the beaches are pretty much the way you described them. Now mind you, they’re gorgeous beaches – warm, tropical, white sand, crystal blue water. However, I much prefer the beaches in your photographs, which by the way, are GORGEOUS! I especially love the Iceland beach.

    Tropical beaches are lovely, however, I also (and probably more so) like beaches that look more rugged and raw. I also prefer going to beaches in the fall and winter, when the sky is gray and overcast.

    Interesting post, Nat! And again, stunning photos!


    1. Ron, I’ve seen pictures of the beaches in South Florida and they look gorgeous! While I do enjoy a beautiful white sandy tropical beach (and will be doing so in The Maldives next week :-)) I too love an unusual beach and the moody atmosphere of a winter’s day. In the UK, Northumbria is a great place for that… the backdrop of Dunstanburgh Castle in Embleton Bay is particularly dramatic. I’ll need to blog about that place one of these days…


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