When I think of beaches, I usually think of light tan sands and the deep dark blue of the ocean near my home. After a recent trip to the Bahamas, it became quite evident that there are many different types of beaches.
We all know that no beach is the same. The sand and water can differ dramatically as you travel through the world. Unfortunately, many of us don’t all get an opportunity to travel the way we want to. So we don’t get to see the natural wonders of the sea in various parts of the world.
You might be surprised to find how many different types of beaches there are and how they vary. They can have unique colored sands and are molded by the power of the ocean. It's incredible if you really think about it.
In my neck of the woods, we usually go to Maryland or New Jersey to spend a day on the beach. So when I went to the Bahamas, it was like taking a trip to another world entirely. The sand was a brilliant white, and the ocean was a breathtaking clear blue with bright fish flitting around below the surface.
If a fish brushed against your leg on one of my beaches, it was enough to send you skittering to shore, not sure what touched you. And that was even if it was mere inches below the surface. But it’s astonishing when you can see everything, as though you’re looking through a window into another world.
Different types of beaches have a kind of magic that is unique to their natural features. So if you’re looking to plan your next adventure, you might want to learn a thing or two about the different types of beaches.
What Makes a Beach
Most people are under the impression that beaches are only made up of sand along the seashore. In turn, you also might be surprised to find that a beach is actually any strip of shore along a body of water. That includes lakes, rivers, and oceans. There are even some manmade beaches in urban settings.
Beaches can feature sand, mud or rocks along the shore. In fact, there is a Glass Beach that is littered with pebbles of sea glass. It was once a dump site, up until the late 1960s. The shore is clear of junk now, but there is a colorful scattering of smooth sea glass that is vivid against the sand.
The profile of the shoreline is the main difference between many beaches. The landscape is formed by the tides, currents, and geological elements. Tides are the most powerful element affecting the landscape. Powerful waves will beat away at the beach, shaping the coastline and bringing sediment to the shore. It will even wear away the sides of cliffs over time.
Sand is one of the most iconic elements of a beach, and you can even find it on the shores of creeks, although it will typically be a darker, muddy sort of sand.
No matter what the sand is like, it is created in the same way. Rivers and oceans break down rocks and minerals until they are nothing but tiny particles. Additionally, local rocks and currents can affect the color of the sand. We commonly encounter light brown or white sands. They are made from a mix of quartz, feldspar, shells, and coral, depending on the location of the beach. There are even different colored sands across the world, including black, pink, red, and even green.
Different Types of Beaches
The power of the oceans or rivers can create different types of beaches. Most people think of the sea when they plan a beach trip. They're dreaming of sunshine and saltwater, tanning on the warm sand, and glimpsing dolphins on the horizon.
However, freshwater beaches are another truly incredible, and entirely underrated, option you should add to your list.
Freshwater beaches aren’t usually as famous as their saltwater brothers. I suppose it depends on where you live, but they make a calm and beautiful vacation spot. The plentiful shade and gentle waters also make them a wonderful place to take small children on a summer day.
Some might wonder why these different types of beaches are popular in the first place. I know quite a few people who don't enjoy going to the beach at all. Regardless of whether you’re a beach bum or not, you can’t deny, they are one of Mother Natures finest attractions.
Overall, exploring different types of beaches can be a lot of fun. It’s a great way to widen your horizons and gives you a few new choices of vacation spot.
As vast as the oceans might be, many people have never even seen them in person. If you don’t live anywhere close, it can be a significant expense to take a trip to a coastal beach. Even though I’m reasonably close to the beach by most standards, it still takes a few hours to get there. So freshwater beaches can offer new possibilities.Photo by Asad Photo Maldives, from Pexels[/caption]
Saltwater beaches come in a wide variety. You might not think so because they have generally similar characteristics, like sand, the ocean, seashells, and sunshine. However, the landscape will heavily depend on the nature of the ocean waves, currents, tides, wind, and other surrounding elements.
The Bahamas have clear and gentle waters, white sands, and beautiful coral reefs. When I was there, swimming in the ocean felt more like paddling around in a swimming pool. The water merely caressed the edge of the beach, and it seemed like currents were nonexistent.
It seemed so strange and beautiful to me. I was used to the deep, dark Atlantic ocean near Maryland and Delaware. If you wandered out too far, the currents could carry you away, and you might not even notice. Alternatively, if you were too close to shore, the waves would knock you down against the rocky sand.
Depending on where you go, the beaches can be drastically different along the same coast. On the shores of a bay, the water is as still as it was in the Bahamas, merely lapping at the sand while little crabs scuttle around under the setting sun. Yet a nearby beach might have the aggressive roar of crashing waves instead.
Barrier island beaches and mainland beaches are the most common types around the world. Spits and pocket beaches are less common, but it makes them a bit more unique. Each of these different types of beaches has unique characteristics. Some are full of life, forming little ecosystems of their own, and others are powerful forces of nature.
All of these different types of beaches have their charm, but it can be fun to travel between them, exploring the possibilities and venturing to unknown wonders.Photo by Julius Silver, from Pexels[/caption]
As we mentioned before, freshwater beaches are much different from their saltwater brothers. You can find them on the edge of lakes and rivers. In fact, even little creeks have beaches of one sort or another, but they aren’t exactly big enough to be a huge attraction. Well, unless you’re fishing.
Lakes and rivers beaches are a great deal calmer because you won’t have to worry about strong tides and crashing waves. So they can be a great place to bring the family.
In some cases, you will have to worry about currents, but that depends on the body of water, and it won’t be a threat in a lake. Before diving into any body of water, you should get to know the area and whether it’s safe to swim in. After all, there’s not much of a chance there will be lifeguards there to save you.
I live near the Susquehanna River, which looks as calm as can be. The dam calms the waters tremendously but underneath the water, there are huge rocks and a strong current. Without realizing it, you could get stuck in the current, battering against rocks before you know what happened. That’s one of the reasons boating and fishing are far more common than swimming along the powerful Susquehanna.
Instead of picking a wild beach along a mighty river, you should choose one that is meant for swimming, with calm waters. The best freshwater beaches can be found all over the United States and across the world. They’re exceedingly popular in Portugal and Russia.
Beaches Weren’t Always so Popular
Back in the day, all different types of beaches were wild and dangerous places -- nothing more than a site of fear and natural disaster. Families didn't travel hundreds of miles to vacation at the beach.
If you think about it, that’s not so surprising. Watching a hurricane come to shore as the ocean roars angrily beneath it must have been a terrifying sight. There was no way to know what was coming until it was already upon you.
Plus, it was a place where pirates, crusaders, bandits, and colonizers might come ashore. There was a good chance they would bring disease with them, along with any ill intent. Many thought it was exceedingly dangerous to live along the shore, for fear of the unknown.
However, things eventually changed, and the sea became a pleasant travel location. It was a place of interest because doctors began recommending therapeutic trips to the beach. It was a place to get fresh air, take long walks, and take a dunk in the sea water to cure illness.
While it’s debatable whether the sea can cure many illnesses, that was enough to set the spark. High-class members of society began taking "restorative" beach trips. When the railroads made it more affordable, the working class began taking trips of their own. Ever since then, beach vacations became a staple of summer life, and the beauty of the sea still draws tourists in for a day of fun in the sun.Photo by James Wheeler, from Pexels[/caption]
Time to Plan Your next Adventure
Most of us go to the same beaches for most of our lives, traveling to the nearest piece of the sea so we can enjoy a day of warm sunshine.
As reassuring it can be to have a routine, it might be time to mix things up a bit. There are so many different types of beaches, along rivers and lakes, as well as oceans and bays. Some beaches are breathtaking and exotic, and others are calm but wild. No matter what, they’re perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and beach activities of any kind, like volleyball and building sand castles.
So instead of sticking to your typical beach location, it might be time to take a trip to a new spot. Enjoy the unusual colored beaches, the lake shores lined surrounded by a peaceful forest, and the clear waters of exotic islands. It might not be affordable all the time, but it’s well worth saving up for a few trips if you can. It can also give you a chance to visit surrounding landmarks.
So if you are a self-proclaimed beach bum, it’s time to widen your horizons once and for all. You should go to different types of beaches and take advantage of the wonders of nature.
Considering how many beaches exist in this world, it might be a little challenging to pick your first new beach. We would love to hear about your favorite beaches in the comment section below! You just might give someone else an idea for their next trip!