Who doesn’t love a family day at the beach? There’s something special about frolicking in the waves, building sand castles and soaking up the sun. Nothing adds to the magic like a spectacular one-of-a-kind beach. Go beyond the typical shore day and have an extraordinary experience with your family at these unique beaches around the country.
01. Pfeiffer Beach
Big Sur, California
A colorful spot, Pfeiffer beach has the distinction of having rare purple sand. The beach gets its distinctive coloring from quartz and manganese garnet that washes down from the hills. A hidden haven, it’s easy to miss if you don’t know it’s there. Though cold water temperature and rough waves make it less than ideal for swimming, kids will love climbing and scrambling up the giant rock formations found here.
02. Boneyard Beach
Bull Island, South Carolina
A stunning, but well-kept secret, this coastal spot is covered with the bleached out remains of trees that have been soaked in saltwater and dried in the sun. The effect creates a haunting forest that visitors can wander through, like something form another world. Explore this quiet escape in relative privacy and enjoy a day on a completely wild, undeveloped beach. Boneyard Beach is also a fantastic place to search for shells.
03. Glass Beach
Fort Bragg, California
This gorgeous beach in northern California is blanketed in a rainbow of sea glass. The glass has been smoothed and shaped by the ocean waves over the last couple hundred years. This beach also features an outcropping of rocks and the tide pools. This is a terrific family destination for an afternoon of searching for sea critters and admiring the different hues of sea glass. Add this spot to your bucket list asap—there is less glass on this beach as time goes on.
04. Singing Beach
At first glance, it’s easy to mistake this destination for a typical beach. But it boasts a truly unique feature: the sand makes a creaking sound when walked on. The fun noise is thanks to the fact that the sand has silica as part of its composition, as well as the size of the sand particles. The beach is one of the main attractions of this small town and it is very clean and well maintained. Get here early since the parking lot fills up quickly.
05. Punaluu Black Sand Beach
Big Island Hawaii
Wildlife enthusiasts will love this spot that has the distinction of being a favorite place for hawksbill and endangered green sea turtles to sunbath. Kids will love the magical opportunity to spot the turtles dotting the sand. More marine animals await in the waves. Spinner dolphins and humpback whales can be seen just off shore. Kids will also love digging and building sand castles in the black sand. Fair warning: the sand can get quite hot on sunny days.
06. Bowling Ball Beach
Point Arena, California
Best viewed at low tide, this aptly named and distinctive landscape features a large accumulation of rocks that appear to all the world like a beach full of bowling balls. This beach also has great rock formations for kids to climb and tide pools for discovering small sea creatures such as anemones, starfish, crabs and sea urchins. The beach can be reached through a quick hike down from the parking area.
07. Assateague National Seashore
Assateague is special because of its unusual residents—wild horses. And it goes way beyond a “chance” to see one. Be prepared to see horses just wandering up and down the beach, grazing on bits of grass and paying visitors no heed. These majestic animals really do act like they own the place. They are protected and of course, wild, so it is best to appreciate them from a distance. But, it is just a remarkable experience to share the beach with them and an experience kids won’t soon forget.
08. Papakolea Green Sand Beach
South Kau, Big Island Hawaii
Thanks to being covered in olivine crystals from the lava rocks that surround the area, this beach is a vivid green. A beautiful, secluded spot, you’ll feel like you’re practically on a private island. Fair warning to families with young children: the beach is not easy to get to. It’s a 2.5-mile hike from the parking area and there are no lifeguards or facilities. The best time of day to visit is starting early in the morning to give yourself plenty of time. The beach also has strong, rough waves, so it’s better for taking in the gorgeous scenery than swimming. Pack plenty of water and a lunch and you can enjoy a picnic you’ll never forget with your toes nestled in the green sand.
09. Shark Tooth Beach-Caspersen Beach
Known as the shark tooth capital of the world, visitors can find hordes of shark teeth on this stretch of sand. Young explorers have a wonderful time searching for these little beach souvenirs. The best way to find them is to walk the waters edge and scoop up the sand, slowly sifting through it. Shark teeth aren’t the only treasures to be found here. Keep your eyes peeled for fossils, coral and shells too. Local boat charters will also take adventurous visitors offshore to search for shark teeth and fossils in the surrounding waters.
10. Wave Organ
San Francisco, California
While not technically a beach, this water sculpture still claims a spot on the list. Located on a small peninsula that jets out into San Francisco Bay, the art is activated by the waves. Listen as the sea create a symphony of sounds and “ocean music”. The sculpture has the appearance of old ruins and is an amazing piece of living art that children will love to explore.