18 Beautiful Beaches Where You Can See Amazing Wildlife
What could be better than sunbathing, building sandcastles, eating ice cream AND watching beautiful animals frolic in the shadows? We've tracked down a selection of beaches where this is possible.
The Carmargue, France - Horses, and even flamingos!
Photographs of gray horses galloping through the water encapsulate this wild southern region of France, and seaside riding excursions can be arranged through local firms. The seaside town of Le Grau-du-Roi is the best base for trip.
Big Major Cay, The Bahamas - Pigs
A colony of pigs live on this island, supposedly to boost tourism (another theory is that sailors dropped them off, intending to come back and cook them, but never returned). Besides a few goats and stray cats, they are the island's only permanent inhabitants.
Boat trips to see the cute little porkers are offered, but this brings problems. Many of the pigs died earlier this year, with tourists accused of feeding them alcohol and trying to ride on top of them. So if you do decide to visit, make sure you follow local guidelines and be respectful of the animals.
Boulders Beach, South Africa - Jackass Penguins
No, we are aren't being cheeky with that name. Boulders Beach on the Cape Peninsula, is known for it's waddling residents, which have lived there since 1982. Other highlights include catching a glimpse of southern wright whales and cage-diving with great white sharks.
Aruba - Flamingos
The caribbean nation of Aruba is home to Flamingo Beach, where -you guessed it- the pink plumed birds can be seen gracefully striding through the shallows. This gorgeous golden crescent is on a private outcrop (the Renaissance Aruba Private Island) and a five-star hotspot on the island's west coast.
Formby Beach - Red Squirrels
You needn't trek to the Carribean seaside wildlife. Formby Beach, up the coast from Liverpool, backs on to National Trust woodland that is known for its red squirrels. Ok, so you won't spot them dipping their toes in the water, but it's still a novel combination of beach and cute critters.
The Seychelles - Hawksbill Turtles
This is one of the very few places these turtles don't feel threatened when they come ashore to lay their eggs. Local guests are taught how to recognize a nesting turtle and invited to witness, but not interfere with, the hatchlings as they beetle their way to the sea.
Hermanus, South Africa - Whales
The Western Cape is one of the few places where you can watch whales from the beach, coastal footpaths, restaurants, cafes and even from the comfort of your hotel bed. Hermanus in particular has some of the land-based whale watching in the world.
Okunoshima, Japan - Rabbits
Okunshima is a small island in Japan's Inland Sea that has become something of a tourist attraction due to it's semi-feral floppy-eared population. Sources claim they were taken there during the Second World War, when the island (and the rabbits) were used to test the effects of poison gas. They have since flourished in the predator-free environment, and there are hundreds roaming free.
Ko Phi Phi Don, Thailand - Monkeys
The unimaginatively named Monkey Beach is known for, shockingly, it's simian population. It is found on the south-western side of Ko Phi Phi Don. The neighboring island, Ko Phi Phi Le, meanwhile was the key filming location for the move The Beach. This really is ideal Instagram territory.
The Galapagos Islands - Sea lions and marine iguanas (penguins too!)
"This remote archipelago is a land of stark lava formations, cacti forests, lush highlands, turquoise bays and quintessential tropical beaches. But best of all, it is overflowing with wildlife at every turn. One day you could be watching giant tortoises in the misty highlands, the next you could be snorkeling with playful sea lions in crystal clear water." says Mark Carwardine, telegraph contributor, in his guide to planning a visit.
Cape Le Grand National Park, Australia - Kangaroos
This coastal national park in Western Australia is the perfect place to go if you like to share the sand with hopping kangroos. Lucky Bay is the most popular spot for a swim and there are campsites that are close by.
The Lofoten Islands, Norway - Sheep
They're not exotic, but the sight of sheep strutting up and down the sandy beaches of The Lofoten Islands is no less surprising.
Turks and Caicos - Puppies
This definitely doesn't count as "wildlife" but in Providenciales, part of the Turks and Caicos Islands, a British Overseas Territory, you can enhance your beach holiday with round-the-clock play with puppies. That's thanks to Potcake Place, a seaside dog rescue center that welcomes help from tourists.
Penang, Malaysia - Kittens
We'll take your puppies and raise you kittens. Cat Beach is a feline rescue center in Teluk Bahang, on the north coast of Penang, which was set up by a US expat in 2014. And praise be, it is open to the public. Also in Malaysia, on the island of Borneo, is the city of Kuching. It means, literally, "cat city" and his home to dozens of suitable sculptures and a cat museum.
Assateague Island, US - Horses
Graceful wild horses can be found on this island, which is shared between the US states of Maryland and Virginia. It also boasts vast, gorgeous beaches. What a combination.
Playa Nacascolo, Costa Rica - Monkeys
This Costa Rican beach, where you'll also find a swanky Four Seasons Resort, is regularly visited by a troop of white-headed capuchin monkeys. The neighboring habitats are also teeming with iguanas and gorgeous macaws.
Inutil Bay, Chile - King Penguins
This isn't the sort of beach you'll want to sunbathe on (it's on the Tierra del Fuego, near the southern tip of South America-aka very cold), but there are few better places to get up close to king penguins.
Itsukushima, Japan - Deer
Another Japanese island, another unlikely wildlife experience on the beach. Just northwest of Hiroshima Bay, it is home to a large number of deer, which are considered sacred in the native Shinto religion. They roam the streets and can be seen by the sea, admiring the island's torii shrine.
Finally, one seaside wildlife experience that is sadly no longer possible- the swimming elephants of the Andaman Islands.
Theses islands were once home to a whole herd of swimming elephants. They were taught to do so in the 1970s as a means of carrying logs between the tiny isles, and many divers, including Jacques Cousteau, visited for a chance to swim with them. But a logging ban meant their services were no longer needed and most were shipped to the mainland. The last one, called Rajan (pictured) died in 2016.
This article was adapted from an original article in the Telegraph.