Ready your camera, these nine picture-perfect coastlines are almost too pretty for words. They’re famous not necessarily for white sand beaches or endless sun, but rather for their incredible rock formations, steep cliffs and other geological wonders.
From Thailand to Iceland, these coasts aren’t for the beach bathers or sun chasers. Instead, travel to any one of them to witness dramatic beauty and to see geological forces that have played out over thousands to millions of years.
Paste Travel’s Bucket List columnist Lauren Kilberg is a Chicago-based freelance writer. Her travels have found her camping near the Pakistani border of India and conquering volcanoes in the Philippines.
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The Twelve Apostles off the coast of Port Campbell National Park in Victoria, Australia are an incredible sight. Millions of years of erosion created these famous limestone stacks and the area's dramatic coastline along the Southern Ocean. While only eight of the 12 formations remain, they still make one of the most impressive coastlines in the world.
Photo by krheesy, CC BY 2.0
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The spectacular Cliffs of Moher along Ireland's western coast plunge some 700 feet into the Atlantic Ocean at their highest point. The wall of sandstone, silt and shale stretches for five miles and is easily accessible by car or tour bus.
Photo by Zach Werner, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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Thailand is home to an abundance of photogenic coastlines, but few are as picturesque as those in Krabi Province. The coastline along Railay Beach is not to be missed. This small peninsula on the Andaman Sea in southern Thailand is famous for its large limestone cliffs and popular with rock climbers. The beach is also lined with long-tail boats baring colorful flags that transport visitors to and from the area, as it's not accessible by road.
Photo by Nicolas Vollmer, CC BY 2.0
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Legend has it that a giant named Finn McCool carved the coast along Northern Ireland's County Antrim. In actuality, the polygonal basalt columns at Giant's Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, were created by volcanic eruptions some 60 million years ago.
Photo by Cord Cardinal, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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What makes the coast along southeast Iceland's glacial lagoon at Jökulsárlón so incredible is its contrast. This frozen beach features volcanic black sands dotted with large blocks of ice that have broken from the nearby Breiðamerkurjökull glacier. The beach is located along the edge of Vatnajökull National Park and is considered one of the most incredible sights in Iceland, which is saying a lot considering the country has an abundance of natural beauty.
Photo by Andrés Nieto Porras, CC BY-SA 2.0
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At Morocco's Legzira Beach you'll find two massive stone arches that form a natural bridge between the sand and sea. Wind and water along this Atlantic Coast beauty helped create the arches that today are popular with sightseers and wind gliders alike.
Photo by Gilbert Sopakuwa, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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The white cliffs at Etretat in Normandy rise starkly from the pebbled beaches along France's Atlantic Coast to create one of Europe's most stunning landscapes. The area has been the subject of countless French Impressionist paintings by greats like Claude Monet. Besides the steep white cliffs, the coast includes rock formations like needles and arches that add to its natural beauty.
Photo by Maëlick, CC BY-SA 2.0
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Lofoten, an archipelago within the Norwegian Sea, offers the kind of scenery you imagine when picturing traveling to Norway. Lying within the Arctic Circle, the area's coastline is nothing short of dramatic with its mountain peaks, beaches and fjords.
Photo by Matthew Savage, CC BY-NC 2.0
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You can't talk about the world's most incredible coastlines without including Kauai. Its famous Napali Coast features incredible geological formations, most notably the ridged cliffs that stretch into the ocean like fingers. The coast's beauty plays out in an array of colors as it melts into the Pacific Ocean.
Photo by opacity, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0