Beaches: surf, sand and sun. What’s more to know? Surprisingly, a lot more!
We most often only think of beaches as a fun way to soak up some sun and spend time with friends on a sunny weekend. However, beaches are home to really rich history, outrageous world records, and amazing examples of science.
To get you started, we rounded up a list of our top 30+ beach facts to teach you about the amazing world of beaches.
Intriguing Beach Facts About Sand
After a beach trip, we’re typically scooping out sand from seemingly everything we own. There’s a lot more to these fine grains, though, than a small nuisance we unintentionally bring home after a beach trip. Check out these sandy facts about the beach to learn more.
- Skulptura Projects GmbH made the tallest sandcastle on June 5, 2019 in Binz, Germany. It measured 57 feet and 11 inches tall. (Guinness World Records)
- Most sand on earth is quartz, a silica (SiO2) based mineral. (National Park Service)
- Sand in color based on location, source, and environment. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
- Tan sand is a result of iron oxide and feldspar. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
- Black sand comes from eroded volcanic materials. This includes basalt rocks and lava. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
- Sand dunes act as storm barriers and re-nourishes beaches during periods of extreme waves, high tides, and storms. (Florida State Park)
- Black sand beaches are common near volcanic activity like Hawaii. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
- White sand beaches come from parrotfish poop. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
- Recent trends in shoreline dynamics and coastal recession could result in the disappearance of beaches by the end of the century. (Nature Climate Change)
- Sand is the second-largest resource extracted and traded by volume. (United Nations Environment Programme)
- The terrace of a beach formed above the water is called the berm. (Britannica)
We have many fascinating beaches around the world that are home to amazing history. Below are just a few standout coasts that you may want to put on your travel bucket list.
- Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island. (NASA Earth Observatory)
- Revere Beach in Massachusetts was the first public beach in the United States. (Massachusetts.gov)
- The first paved road connecting the city to the beach opened in 1910 in Jacksonville. (Visit Jacksonville)
- Shell Beach in Australia is made up of trillions of tiny shells. (Shark Bay)
Clear Blue Ocean Facts
Diving headfirst into the ocean is another way we spend our time at the beach. Having fun in the water is just as important as staying safe in the water. Take a look at these cool beach facts about the deep blue sea.
- Water covers about 71 percent of the Earth’s surface. (U.S. Geological Service)
- Hawaiians are credited with the invention of surfing with Hawaiian royalty noted among the first. (Sea Earth Atmosphere)
- The chance of a person fatally drowning while attending a beach protected by a United States Lifesaving Association (USLA) lifeguard is 1 in 18 million. (United States Lifesaving Association)
- About 73 percent of beach goers enter the water. (Journal of Water and Health)
Ocean Creature Truths
If you’re lucky, you may have seen some dolphins in the distance or some birds flying overhead. You may also have a chance to go shrimping if you’re visiting during the right season. Below are just a few things to learn about our seafaring neighbors.
- There is no such thing as a seagull! It’s a casual name people use for gulls. (National Audubon Society)
- A blue whale’s heart is not the size of a Volkswagen Beetle, contrary to popular belief. It’s about 400 pounds and weighs about 14 times as much as an elephant’s heart. (National Geographic)
- Kelp forests provide food and shelter to thousands of species. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
- Coral reefs protect coastlines from storms and erosion. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
- More than 500 million people worldwide depend on coral reefs for things ranging from coastal protection to food. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
Interesting Beach History
Beaches are rich in history dating back to the 1700s. Brush up on some of your seaside history with these interesting beach facts.
- Beaches first became popular destinations in the mid-18th century in Europe. (Smithsonian Magazine)
- 408 million people visited the beach in 2019. (United States Lifesaving Association)
- The United States Lifesaving Service formed in the early 1700s. (United States Lifesaving Association)
- USLA affiliated lifeguards rescued more than 71,000 beach goers in 2019. (United States Lifesaving Association)
- Uncrowded, outdoor, and beach experiences were the most desired domestic travel destinations for U.S. travelers in 2020. (Travel Leaders Group)
- Congress Hall is the oldest seaside resort in the United States. (Visit New Jersey)
- In a recent survey comparing vacation destinations, 48 percent of respondents felt beaches were their favorite destination.
Sunny Beach Facts
“Fun in the sun” can sometimes mean “peeling all day” if the sun gets the better of you after a beach trip. Picking up a bottle of reef safe sunscreen is one of many ways you can protect yourself from the sun while also keeping the ocean clear of chemicals. Here are a few other sunny beach truths you should be aware of before your next trip.
- The ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can harm your skin in 15 minutes. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention)
- “SPF” stands for “sun protection factor” and its numbers indicate how long it would take the sun’s UVB rays to redden your skin after putting it on. (The Skin Cancer Foundation)
- “UPF” stands for “ultraviolet protection factor.” The numbers indicate how much UVA and UVB radiation a fabric allows to reach your skin. (The Skin Cancer Foundation)
- 85 percent of sunlight can reflect off of sand, concrete, water, and snow. (United States Department of Agriculture)
- A regular cotton T-shirt has an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) between 5 and 8. (Healthline)
Efforts for Sustainability
Beaches are unfortunately not immune to the dangers of pollution. Many inventors and scientists are diligently creating ways to clean up the ocean, but there are plenty of things we can do on our end to keep our beaches clean and our waters safe. Here are a few facts on the issues beaches face and what others are doing to do just that.
- Microfibers accounted for 97 percent of debris found on National Park Beaches. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
- Hundreds of sea creatures of all sizes die from complications related to plastic debris. This can include getting tangled in debris or eating too much plastic. (National Park Service)
- Blue Flag beaches make a commitment to sustainable development by providing environmental education activities for the public, establishing a beach management committee, and more. (Blue Flag)
- The Environmental Protection Agency’s “Trash-Free Water” program’s goal is to reduce and prevent trash from entering the ocean and U.S. waters (Environmental Protection Agency)
- Washed Ashore creates art out of marine debris and hosts educational programs to teach others about plastic pollution and its effect on the ocean. (Washed Ashore)
Panhandle Beach Facts
The Florida Panhandle is home to so many amazing beaches and beach towns. You’re bound to find many family-friendly beaches on your next trip. Here are a few interesting tidbits about beaches along the Emerald Coast.
- Grayton Beach State Park in Florida was named the #1 beach in America in 2020 by Dr. Beach. (Dr. Beach)
- St. George Island State Park is home to miles of undeveloped beaches. (Florida State Park)
- Panama City Beach is home to 100 public beach access points. (Visit Panama City Beach)
- Destin’s sand comes from a process involving the Apalachicola River and the Appalachian Mountains. When the ice caps began melting 20,000 years ago at the end of the last Ice Age, rivers carried the water to the ocean. The water carried quartz particles from the Appalachian mountains to the Gulf of Mexico and near Destin. The quartz sands formed a new shoreline as the sea levels rose. (Destin Chamber)
There are so many more things to learn about the beach! You can go on a hunt for seashells on your next trip to learn more about the wildlife or find a local marine biology center to learn more about the science behind the local beach. Visiting beach towns is another fun, hands-on way to get to know the great things to learn about the beach.