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6 Must-See Beaches

There’s nothing wrong with a typical day at the beach, but on a Lindblad-National Geographic expedition, a day at the beach is anything but typical. We swap sandcastles for secret sea caves and trade frozen cocktails for polar plunges. Whether it’s an English island that could easily be in the Caribbean or one of history’s most infamous stretches of shore, these six unique beaches will entice you to leave your lounge chair and explore. Get Inspired By Photos, Videos, Webinars, Stories, And Exclusive Offers. Sign Up

Cerro Brujo, Galápagos

With silky coral sand and rugged black lava rocks that shine in the surf, this beach on San Cristóbal Island invites exploration. Charles Darwin first stepped foot in Galápagos in the vicinity of Cerro Brujo (“Wizard Hill”), and, like modern-day visitors, he probably didn’t have this enchanting spot to himself. The local sea lion colony is often in residence playing, nursing, or snoozing belly-up in the sun, and it’s not unusual to spot blue-footed boobies torpedo diving for dinner as you admire Kicker Rock on the distant horizon.

Photo: Ralph Lee Hopkins

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Granite Cove Beach, Alaska

Upon arrival at George Island, the mist parts to reveal a pebble beach strewn with giant kelp fronds. Do as the bears do and search beneath the stalks to spot sea stars, crabs, sponges, and chitons in the intertidal crevices. A short, Sitka spruce-lined trail leads hikers to a former World War II gun emplacement with sweeping views that are exponentially more enthralling when you’re not defending the Inside Passage from Axis invasion. Thrill seekers can opt for an exhilarating dip in the frigid Alaskan waters—with plenty of hot cider and warm towels upon resurfacing.

Photo: Doug Gould

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Omaha Beach, Normandy

During the June 1944 D-Day attacks that marked the beginning of the end of World War II, Omaha was one of two American landings—and it was the deadliest of the Allies’ five. From the waters of the English Channel, the terrain makes for a clear target, with its crescent-shaped swath of sand flanked by imposing limestone cliffs. Renowned historian Dr. Mark Bielski provides devastating context to memorials commemorating the thousands of soldiers who lost their lives. Reconciling the natural beauty of Omaha with this most brutal of battles is a difficult and deeply moving experience.

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Tresco Island, England

Though the Isles of Scilly may resemble the tropics—picture swaying palm fronds, turquoise waters, and luxuriously soft sand—they’re a shocking 30 miles off the Cornish coast of mainland England. Tresco is one of the least-visited of the islands, making it an alluring staycation spot for royalty. It's also an idyllic place to take a kayak out to explore uninhabited shorelines. Further proof of paradise can also be found at the Abbey Garden, “a perennial Kew without the glass” where thousands of subtropical succulents and brilliant exotic blooms have reclaimed the ruins of a Benedictine Abbey.

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Algarve’s Sea Caves, Portugal

Portugal’s southern coastline is one of Mother Nature’s geological masterworks. Where golden cliffs and sandy beaches meet the aquamarine Atlantic, a sprawling network of sea caves is only accessible from the water. The most famous, Benagil Cave, obscures a hidden beach dramatically spotlighted by a natural skylight. Discover these secluded rock formations as we navigate in and around them on small, purpose-built boats.

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Rangiroa, French Polynesia

There’s hardly a shortage of perfect, palm-fringed beaches in French Polynesia, but the crystalline lagoon at Rangiroa has some of the best. It also has the opportunity for an underwater experience you'll remember for a lifetime. In the glassy waters off Rangiroa's pristine shores, you can snorkel above twirling schools of tropical fish. Affectionately called "the aquarium," jumping into these waters is like discovering your own personal fishtank. Join steephead parrotfish, convict surgeonfish, reef sharks, and hundreds more finned specimens for an unforgettable flight above sculptural forests of coral.

Photo: Sven-Olof Lindblad

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