A beach is a place where people relax and play, usually along the edge of a sea, lake, or wide river. It is covered in sand or pebbles and often features water sports and beach bars. People come to beaches for many reasons, including sunbathing, swimming, walking, and playing games. A beach may also be a popular destination for fishing, camping, and other outdoor activities.
A large portion of the world’s coastline is sandy, with about one third of global beaches being made of sand. Beaches are a major source of recreation, supporting local tourism industries and sometimes hosting hospitality venues such as restaurants, resorts, and shacks. Beaches also support natural and ecological processes by providing habitat for a wide variety of plant and animal species.
The most beautiful beaches in the world often have dramatic landscapes and awe-inspiring natural beauty. For example, Reynisfjara Beach in Iceland is known for its black sand, sea stacks, and columnar basalt formations, earning it a spot on this year’s list. Other stunning beaches include Baia do Sancho in Fernando de Noronha, Brazil, which is known for its pristine turquoise waters.
Some beaches offer visitors a range of activities, from social atmospheres and high-octane fun to quiet hideouts where they can read or meditate. There are also plenty of beach bars and restaurants to choose from, so travelers can get their fill of food and drink without leaving the sand.
While there are many types of beaches, the most common are composed of sand and finely grained pebbles. Cobble and mud beaches are a bit more rare, though they do exist in some places around the world.
Beaches are characterized by 4 zones known as the beach profile: the swash zone, beach face, wrack line, and berm zone. The location and composition of these zones depends on the nature and quantity of sediments upstream and their interaction with the water, wind, and wave action. Sand and finer pebbles tend to accumulate near the water’s edge, while larger particles are deposited further inland where they form dunes and dune ridges.
Private property rights and public access are a major issue when it comes to beaches. Despite the fact that the general public has the right to walk on most beaches in the intertidal area, it is important to respect the privacy of beach owners by staying off private property. This is especially important when it comes to beachfront homes.