A beach is a broad strip of sandy sediment that borders an ocean or sea. It is a favorite spot for swimmers and sunbathers. It is also the place where waves and wind erode and carry material from other locations. Beaches are the most common site for sand erosion, but they can be found at other places, including rivers, lakes, or ponds.
The word “beach” also refers to a town or vacation spot that is located along an ocean or sea, such as Hawaii or New Jersey. In fact, the term is so widespread that people often say they’re going to the beach for vacation—a trip that usually involves a plane ride and hotel. The beach is also where boats often run aground, so the word has a negative connotation in some places.
Beaches are constantly changing in shape and size, thanks to erosion and weathering. Waves that continually beat against rocky cliffs can cause rocks to come loose and even huge boulders to be worn down into tiny grains of sand. Beaches that are nearer to shore gain sand (accreting), while those further away lose it (eroding).
Most beaches in the world have a mix of sand and other materials, but some have one material in particular that stands out. For example, a beach near volcanic craters may have black basalt sand. Other beaches are primarily white or tan because of the mineral composition of the rock that makes up the beach. In Southern California, for example, many beaches are covered with sand that has been carried south by longshore drift, but the sand isn’t there forever because some of it drains into submarine canyons and sandbanks.
A sandbar is a sand ridge that juts out into the sea, usually at a point where currents that push toward the coast and those that move away from it meet. They can be very wide, and a beach can have several sandbars.
The sand in beaches is a mixture of materials, and it can be made up of limestone, quartz, feldspar, and a variety of other minerals. Beach sand can also be colored in shades of white, black, yellow, and red. The color depends on the type of rock that forms the area, and a beach can look completely different during the summer than it does during the winter because of seasonal changes in the movement of water and the formation of sandbars.
Beaches are important habitats for animals and plants. Birds build their nests on ocean beaches, and crabs and other small animals dig into the sand for food. In addition, algae, seaweed, and grasses grow on the sand. They also provide food and shelter for some fish. Beaches can be noisy and crowded, but they are also beautiful places to visit and relax. For example, a beach in the middle of the night can be a tranquil place for a moonlight swim. Beaches are also a wonderful place to take photographs, as the light can create interesting shadows and highlights on the sand and the water.