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Special Edition

A Different Kind of Paradise

If you’re looking for an alternative location with a beautiful landscape and roaring water, you just might fall in love with rocky beaches.

Photo by Unsplash

Gulls swarming. Strangers shrieking. Footballs and discs whizzing just past your face. And a shore crammed with umbrellas—no spot for you. Sound familiar?

Sandy beaches are a popular vacation go-to. After all, who doesn’t love the sound of waves rolling? The feeling of a salty breeze? The reflection of a sunset on the water?

And let’s be honest, the online dating profile bio line “I like long walks on the beach” got overused for a reason.

But all that love for sandy beaches has left them increasingly overcrowded. And too much human activity subjects these ecosystems to coastal erosion, pollution, and the loss of feeding, breeding, and nesting grounds for animal life.

Environmentalists are trying to protect sandy beaches by limiting their accessibility, stabilizing coastlines, requiring visitors to watch informational videos, or even promoting longer, slower-paced stays.

But there’s another simple solution. If you’re looking for an alternative location with a beautiful landscape and roaring water, you just might fall in love with rocky beaches.

Rocky beaches can feature cliffs, pebble or shingle shores, rocky outcroppings, and smooth boulders—there’s quite a range. But they tend to be more secluded than sandy beaches. Here, you can experience real relaxation as you enjoy a peaceful connection with nature.

Swimming may not be safe on some rocky beaches due to strong currents. But if you’re looking for a quiet place to write, crochet, or observe wildlife, this is it.

Of course, like sandy beaches, rocky coastlines are not immune to human impact. Teeming with precious life, these shores also deserve protection and preservation.

As you visit, avoid littering or touching wildlife (including in tide pools). Consider kayaking rather than using jet skis or motorboats. Search for eco-friendly hotels a little farther from the coastline. You get it. Let’s avoid recreating the problems we find all too often on sandy beaches.

Picture this: A cliff towers behind you. Waves crash against smooth boulders. Anemone sway in nearby tidepools. And a wide, open coastline waits to be explored. Now that’s more like it.

Mountains and glaciers meet the sea at Kenai Fjords in Alaska, USA.

Giant’s Causeway in Northern Island is home to both hexagonal rock columns and the Irish legend of Fionn mac Cumhaill.

As you explore the coasts of Acadia Park in Maine, USA, look for periwinkle snails and anemones in the tide pools.

The rocky shores of the Faroe Islands of Denmark are surrounded by lush green hills (see page XX).

Basalt columns on the South Coast of Iceland create a beautiful contrast of icy blue and jet black.

Bike the 17-Mile Drive along the coast of California, USA, to see the Restless Sea and the famous Lone Cyprus Tree.

The ocean continues to smooth out the massive spherical concretions that make up the Moeraki Boulders of New Zealand.