What is a good beach?

First of all, there are four main types of beaches. Barrier island beaches are beaches that start and end in the water and cover vast portions of our world’s coasts. These shifting shoals of sand are generally migrating towards the mainland around the world, possibly due to sea level rise. Mainland beaches are simply where the land meets the sea and also comprise many of the world’s beaches. Spits are similar to both types of beaches in that they are connected to the mainland at one end, but end in the water at the other end. When a large storm comes and cuts a new inlet in the spit, a new barrier island is formed. A pocket beach is a unique type of beach that is associated with exposed bedrock nestled between rocky coastal outcrops. They are found around the world and in abundance throughout the northern coast of the eastern United States and Canada.  [linkoptimizer:1]

Really these four main types of beaches encompass what a good beach is…everyone has an individual favorite on what they consider to be a good beach.  Which one is your favorite?  To go even further,  beaches may be wave dominated, tide-modified, or tide-dominated. Wave dominated beaches are the ones normally exposed to constant waves, ocean swells, or low tides that are two meters or less in depth. Tide-modified beaches, on the other hand, happen in spots with a high tide range but have lower waves. This commonly occurs when the tide ranges from three to fifteen times the height of the wave, with the wave height being less than 0.3meters. The same thing goes for the tide-dominated beach. The only difference is that they occur when the tide range is between ten to fifteen times the wave height.  I can really go to any type of beach.  Depends on what you want to do at the beach I guess.  For wake boarding or surfing, going to a wave-dominated beach is essential.  Families with small children prefer tide-modified or tide-dominated beaches.

Beaches also differ in the material they are composed of. They can be made up of boulders, shells, cobbles, mud, iron sand, or sand. When you think of the beach, you probably imagine long strands of sand flanked by blue ocean water. What many people do not realize, however, is that there are other types of beaches beyond the common sandy beach. Beaches around the world have unique characteristics that make them truly one of a kind, though there are a few ways in which to categorize the most common varieties.

Sand Beaches

Sand beaches are the most commonly seen beaches in the United States. These beaches are composed of loose sand that meets ocean or gulf waters. Sand beaches may be victim to erosion over time as the tides continually change the face of the beach. These types of beaches may also border large sand dunes, which can be important environments for animals like snakes and birds.

Rock Beaches

In certain areas of the work, large, heavy rocks prevent a build-up of sediment. This means that the ocean meets these rocks directly. Rock beaches are often difficult to navigate in a vehicle and must be approached on foot, but can make beautiful locations for picnics and other activities. Rock beaches can be comprised of massive, jagged boulders or smaller, more manageable stones.

Lava Beaches

If you have ever been to Hawaii, you may have visited one of the state’s several black sand beaches. These beaches are not made of actual sand, but are instead composed of hardened lava discarded from the area’s many volcanoes. Over time, these rocks have been broken down into tiny fragments. Black sand beaches are composed of millions of tiny lava particles that were once part of a volcanic eruption.  [linkoptimizer:2]

Best Beaches

But what types of beaches do we all like, what qualities are we looking for to make it the best beach for us as an individual?  Here are some I thought of.  Please feel free to send me what you consider a beach to have to make it the best beach!


Maldives Beach

Beach Color & Texture: Some tend to think that the “white sandy beach” makes it the best. Some like the black sand. Personally, I go by personality of the beach and what it has to offer. I’m not big on caring what color the sand is or how fine it is. Sure the really fine sand gets into everything, and your car ends up with a bunch of sand in it when you leave. That doesn’t bother me either. Now, the beaches with a lot of crushed seashells can be hard on the feet, but that’s what flip flops are for. In the fine sand, you have to take them off, and on the crushed shell beaches you just leave them on.



Waikiki, HI

Waikiki Beach

Crowded vs. Quiet: Being the beach bum that I am, this doesn’t really matter either. Actually I like to see more of a crowd, because that means there is more going on. More tiki bars to sip margaritas at, more little hole-in-the-wall stops for food, more atmosphere, and to me, more character. Some just want to go to a quiet, peaceful, serene beach. I’ve always liked the action, so I tend to go where the crowds are. Just get there early, claim your piece of sand, and enjoy!

Kid & Family Friendly: When you have a family, going to a kid/family friendly beach is a must. This can mean that they have lifeguards, there are other children for yours to play with, the ocean is more sloping and not steep, the water could be milder, and you might want a beach with some kid-friendly beach activities.


Miami Beach, FL

Where the Activities Are: I think this goes hand-in-hand with the more crowded beaches. Typically a crowded beach is that way because of the activities. Lots of people go to the beach to enjoy the sun, sand, and beach….but also for the water sports, volleyball on the beach, equipment rentals, boat rentals, even fishing. I like the water sports, so I enjoy a beach that has water sports. I recently went to South Padre Island in Texas, and granted it was March, but there were NO water sports activities. It’s a nice beach and all, but I will try a different Texas beach next time.

Beaches for Naturalists: Ok, some like to bear it all and opt out of the tan lines. There are plenty of these beaches around. Not a beach that I will probably frequent. Not that I am not comfortable in my own skin, but these beaches usually do not have any amenities at all. So that’s out for me!

newport beach ca

Newport Beach, CA

Ocean Water Temperature: I personally like beaches where the water is warm and not freezing cold. I get cold easy myself and just prefer warmer water. I guess that is why I like the St. Pete area so much. Being on the gulf side, St. Pete area beaches tend to be calmer and a LOT warmer than the Florida beaches on the Atlantic side. Granted, if it’s hot outside, it doesn’t matter all that much really. I’ve went to Cocoa Beach in the middle of summer and the water felt just great, and the waves were kind of awesome!

We all want a clean beach, and probably one we feel safe at.  What makes a beach good for you?  I’d love to hear from you!  [linkoptimizer:3]



  1. Renee Townsend

    The beaches I’ve experienced have been along the west coast (Washington & California) and the Carolinas in the US. What I’ve found is the waters along the west coast are a lot colder than in the Carolinas. I’m not sure why that is, but it is. I grew up on the west coast, and when people talked about the water being warm in the Carolinas, I didn’t believe them. In my mind, beach water is cold. So, when I actually spent time in the Carolinas, I was surprised the waters were quite a bit warmer.

    What I haven’t seen are those beautiful white sand and blue-green water beaches. I’d love to experience them and see how warm the waters are.

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      And they are warm 🙂 The gulf beaches are calm and warm 🙂

  2. Max

    Hi Leahrae!
    First, I must say that you have a great site.
    Very informative.
    I love sandy beaches, have been in Greece and there were mostly rock beaches on the island I visited and I didn’t really like that.
    Unfortunately, my son loves playing in pool areas so nowadays when I’m traveling with him I will only see the beaches in distance 🙂
    Do you have any top list of your favorite beaches?

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Hi Max, My all-time favorite go to beach is St. Pete beach in Florida. Also Treasure Island Beach and Clearwater Beach. These are all on the gulf side of Florida close to Tampa. I also like Siesta Beach. I’d have to say these are my favorites 🙂

  3. Matt

    Thanks for the info. My family and I are planning a beach getaway for this summer. After reading your article we’re going to start looking for a Barrier Island to visit. Can you recommend anything? I’d love to hear some recommendations! It’s 10 of us, all cousins, no kids so we’re looking for somewhere that’s more “adulty”

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I would really recommend Topsail Island of North Carolina. This is a 26 mile-long barrier island beach! This is a great place for adults with lots of things to do in and around the area.

  4. John Rico

    hey thank you for sharing this article. This is so informative and enjoyble to read. I like beaches. I always go to the beach like twice a month. My favorite type of beach is white sand beach. Is there any beach that yiu can recommend? And can you give atleast 5 of the bedt beaches that you recommend .

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes, off the top of my head they are St. Pete Beach (FL), Clearwater Beach (FL), Destin Beach (FL), Playa de Las Americas (Tenerife), and Medano Beach (Baja California) From first hand experience, these are all good 🙂

  5. Cees

    Thanks for this really clear and in-depth article about the beaches.
    A lot of people love to spend a holiday on the beach and I just love how you explain all the different type of beaches with its pros and cons.
    For sure it is giving me a much better picture were to hold my next beach holiday.

  6. lifebeginswithyourhealth

    I also would love to experience every different type of beach you share in your article one day, I live in Pennsylvania. No beaches here, we have rivers and streams but they just do not compare to a real beach with a ocean.

    I never experienced the beach, where would I find the type of beach with soft white sand, blue water.

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      From my experience, Destin Florida 🙂

  7. paul

    Hi Leahrae, very informative and enjoyable read.I have been to many beaches, Key West with its shell sand, very white and fine, Sarasota with its small rocks and prehistoric shark teeth. It is very nice to see them classified, something I never thought about. I had to experiment going to beaches with my kids to see if they were right for kids or not. I did prefer tide pool type beaches. The kids had fun for hours without worrying about crashing waves.
    Well done!

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you Paul! Yes, tide pool beaches are definitely the best for smaller children. Now my son wants waves for surfing LOL

  8. Zoltan

    Great topic, my favourites are the sandy beaches.I live in Scotland and here you can find some amazing one.Always looking forward to the summer and like we say in Scotland “Summer is my favourite day of the year!”

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you and yes, sandy beaches are the best! It must rain a lot in Scotland? Sounds like what someone would say in Anchorage, Alaska too!

  9. Stuart

    Hi Leahrae, Great information! I live in Hawaii so I’ve seen and experienced all those types of beaches. I remember when I was in the Philippines the water was so nice and warm. Anyway, I like the sand beaches, and they have to have some wave action.

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I agree! Wave action is nice to have 🙂 I prefer soft, fine sand as well. The good thing about crushed shell beaches is that you do find a lot of shells. But over the years, I have collected a LOT of shells 🙂


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