Some of the most relaxing and beautiful places in the world are beaches.
Every year, the beaches of the world attract millions of people to their sandy shores.
You can find beaches on any continent, and while they may all look different, they have the same layouts and are formed in many of the same ways.
Understanding the definition of a beach and how beaches are made makes it easier to see why it is so hard to determine a specific number of beaches in the world.
Even though many beaches have specific boundaries and names, many other beach areas remain unclaimed and untouched but are still considered beaches.
How Many Beaches Are In The World?
It is estimated that 31 percent of the world’s coastlines are sandy.
There are around 372,000 miles of coastline in the world.
New beaches are formed every day, and some are also destroyed just as easily.
A strip of land does not need to be designated a beach or named as a beach to be considered a beach.
In fact, some of the best and most beautiful beaches in the world are those that are hidden away and hard to find.
A beach is any type of landform connected to the ocean.
Any body of water can have a beach around it, and beaches can consist of different types of sediment and landscapes.
Sediment may settle with different densities that help to shape the beach.
Since beaches are constantly being shaped by the moving water around them, a beach may change its shape or layout often.
Some beaches can be made in a matter of a few days, and they can be destroyed just as fast.
Hurricanes and other extreme weather events can easily create new beaches and also completely change the layout of a beach by removing the sediment or stirring it up to create different borders or densities.
Are Beaches Only Found Around The Ocean?
While most people think of the ocean when they think of beaches, beaches can actually form around any body of water.
A beach is the area of land that runs next to a body of water, so a beach can be present on lakes, rivers, seas, ponds, and of course, oceans.
Different types of waterways often have different types of beaches.
The body of water can also determine the size of the beach.
Lakes can have beaches.
Many lakes have very large beaches that are made up of sand or very fine gravel.
Some large lakes, such as the Great Lakes in the United States, are just as popular as coastal beaches.
Because they are so large, many lakes also have waves that help create natural beaches.
The waves may not be as strong as those on ocean beaches, but they are still capable of pulling sand and gravel towards the land and creating dunes and beaches.
Some lakes have man-made beaches where sand or other materials have been brought in to build up the land around the lake to make it more appealing to visitors and to make it a more functional body of water.
Rivers can have beaches just as oceans and lakes do.
Rivers are always moving, and even when it’s not noticeable, the water is moving sand, soil, and clay to the sides to make a beach.
These beaches are normally soft and muddy, and they often change as the water moves and floods.
River beaches are also much narrower than other types of beaches and usually appear on either side of the waterway.
Rivers can run into oceans, and at the area where they meet, a beachy area called an estuary may form.
What Are The Best Beaches In The World?
The best beaches in the world are often ranked by travel websites and magazines and are based on tourist-related activities.
What makes a beach the best beach is a matter of personal preference, but according to US News, the top 10 beaches in the world are as follows:
Which State Has The Best Beaches?
Hawaii and Florida are the two states in the United States that are considered to have the most beaches.
Although it is impossible to count all of the beaches in these states, both states have numerous islands that have beaches on them.
Hawaii itself is a large island chain, and Florida is a peninsula, which means most of the state is made up of shorelines.
While many of the beach areas in these states are divided into named or designated beaches, many other beachy areas are not named or recognized as beaches, even though the landscape fits the definition of a beach.
Do All Beaches Have Sand?
While many beaches are sandy, this is not the case for all beaches.
Some beaches are made up of other types of sediment, and it depends on the area around the beach in which sediment is present.
Natural beaches tend to be made up of different types of sediment and are often combinations of sand, pebbles, and soil.
Man-made beaches are typically more sandy as the sand is dredged offshore and brought in to make the beaches more attractive.
How Are Beaches Formed?
The movement of ocean waves works against coral and various sediment and mineral deposits that are found offshore in the ocean.
As these pieces break free, the waves help to churn and mix them until they are ground up into tiny particles that resemble sand or pebbles.
These same waves also push the small bits of sediment around and towards land.
Over time, the waves push the sand and sediment into the same locations, and beaches begin to form.
The waves continue to add more sand and pebbles and shape the beach as time goes on.
Man-made beaches are made in much the same way, except instead of waiting for nature to move all the sediment to create a beach, humans do it faster.
Large quantities of sand, rocks, and pebbles are brought in from other areas and used to create the desired shape of the beach.
This can be done to help improve the look and design of a natural beach, or entirely new beaches can be built from scratch.
Man-made beaches are also susceptible to erosion and are more likely to be destroyed in the event of a flood or hurricane.
Man-made beaches are constantly being renourished and maintained to ensure they look great.
What Are The Different Types Of Beaches?
There are several different types of beaches, and each has its own geography and ecosystem.
The area of the world where the beach is located can have an effect on the types of beach that forms.
Sandy beaches are what most people think of when they think of a beach.
Sandy beaches can be natural or man-made.
These beaches are often the most preferred type of beach because the sand creates a soft place to sit or lie while tanning.
The sand also provides plenty of entertainment for those who wish to hunt shells, treasure, or build sandcastles.
Most artificial beaches are made of sand that is brought in from an area of the same beach but offshore.
Sand is dredged, filtered, and placed in the desired location to create the look of the beach.
Different types of sandy beaches also have different sand colors.
- White Sand
- Black Sand
- Red Sand
- Orange Sand
- Green Sand
- Pink Sand
- Blue Sand
- Purple Sand
Pebble beaches tend to be a little rougher and rockier.
The small pebbles are ground from larger pieces of rock or coral that are pushed against the land and broken up.
It may not be as fine as sand, but the pebbles can still be soft enough to make it possible to sit or lie on the beach.
Pebble beaches can be natural and are often mixed with sand.
Many pebble beaches have sand added to them as part of maintenance and renourishment projects.
The small pebbles are covered in sand to improve their appearance but left in place to help create a stronger beach that is less likely to be susceptible to erosion and storms.
In some areas of the world, oceans and lakes run right up against caves.
The caves may fill with water based on the changing tides.
Some caves are fully submerged at all times, and others become accessible when the tide is low but are covered and hidden when the tide rises.
Cave beaches are usually very rough and rocky, and some can have sand or pebbles around the entrances to the caves.
Boulder beaches are also rocky and can have very beautiful but also dangerous landscapes.
The boulders can roll or break off of larger rocky areas such as cliffs and fall into the ocean.
Sand and sediment form around the boulders to create a beach area.
When the tides are low, small holes can fill up with water and allow sea creatures to be trapped inside.
These tide pools are great for fishing and observing different creatures.
When the tide comes back in, the water covers the boulders and the tide pools and allows the animals to get free again.
Planted beaches occur when oceans or jungles grow right up against the edge of the water.
These beaches tend to have a more exotic appearance and are shadier than other types of beaches.
Only certain types of trees and plants can grow near beaches as the water can affect their growth.
Planted beaches can make it harder to access the water, but many planted beaches also have some type of rock, sand, or sediment that helps to secure the plants in place.
What Are The Different Types Of Shorelines?
Shorelines are very similar to beaches, and beaches can be shorelines.
Shorelines can be other things besides beaches, and there are several different types of common shorelines.
Marshes and coastal wetlands are areas that butt up against beaches and make up a unique shoreline habitat.
These areas are very affected by the tides.
When the tide is high, the marshes and wetlands are covered by the water completely.
Many also stay submerged for long periods.
As the tide recedes, the wetlands and marshes are revealed and may dry up for short periods.
This results in truly unique ecosystems that are made up of plants and animals that can’t live in other settings.
Estuaries are found at the mouths of rivers and streams, where they open up to the ocean.
They can also be affected by the tide and are home to many unique plants and animals.
Estuaries are very muddy as the water is often moving at different speeds that churn up the water and even mix freshwater and saltwater together.
Estuaries are very susceptible to flooding, and they are also easily affected by human activity.
Bedrock shorelines are very stable and strong.
They are not likely to show signs of erosion and are able to be built upon.
They tend to look like mountainous areas that jut out over waterways.
Beaches may form at the base of the bedrock, and the large rocks are able to protect these beachy areas.
Beaches found around bedrock shorelines are more likely to maintain their shape and be less susceptible to storms and changes.
Are All Beaches Natural?
There are many natural beaches all over the world, but not all beaches are natural.
Natural beaches take thousands of years to form, and they are always changing.
Man-made beaches are very common, especially in tourist areas.
Many resorts, hotels, state, and national parks, and even private locations build beaches to make the land more appealing and more functional.
Some natural beaches are also built up to change the shape and size and to bring in sand or other sediments that look better and are more comfortable for beach activities.