Trunk Bay, St. John – Trunk Bay in the U.S. Virgin Islands reminds Michele Kontaxes Naurock of her wedding day. She and her spouse celebrate their anniversary by making return trips to this beach. The memories and its "untouched beauty ... and the beautiful clear blue waters" make it a special place to her.
Whitehaven Beach, Australia – Luke Schwerdtfeger spent the night on a chartered sailboat, and when he woke up the captain told passengers they were going to "the finest sand beach in the world." After hiking through a forested area off the main beach, Schwerdtfeger arrived at a lookout point where he snapped these photos of Whitehaven Beach in Australia.
Waihi Beach, New Zealand – Cindy Schultz describes Waihi Beach in New Zealand, as paradise. When she woke up one morning to walk along the beach, she found the beach covered in "beautiful, perfect shells that had washed up over night." She says, "I was like a kid in a candy shop!"
Turtle Beach, Oahu – Lee Gunderson considers Turtle Bay beach, or Laniakea beach, magical. "We sit for hours by the sea listening to her age old song. It is the most magical thing about this place and the midnight surf."
St. Maarten – For a Columbus Day weekend getaway, Neslyn Talavera Monroig and her husband flew to St. Maarten. The beaches stood out to her for the "beautiful turquoise-blue waters and how tranquil the water was every single day."
Torrey Pines State Reserve, San Diego – Daniel Arthur spent time on a sunny day at Torrey Pines State Reserve in San Diego, California. He enjoyed the views from the top of the cliffs, the expansive sandy beach and the cool surf.
Popototan Island, Philippines – Kate Strittmatter went on a 45-minute hike without seeing anyone. She says she followed the sounds of the waves, and they led her to this quiet Popototan Island beach in the Philippines. "It's quite amazing to see no one else and hear only the ocean," she says. "It was so peaceful."
Riviera Maya, Mexico – As Michele Kontaxes Naurock was taking a stroll along a Riviera Maya beach in Mexico, she couldn't resist capturing the sight in front of her: "the beautiful coastline, the wind ripping through the palm trees and the gorgeous clouds at that moment in time."
Raglan Beach, New Zealand – After Cindy Schultz captured this image of clear skies and calm water at Raglan Beach, New Zealand, the weather dramatically changed before her eyes. "Blue skies and white puffy clouds gave way to dark skies and black clouds within a matter of minutes," she says. "It was beautiful, whether the water was blue or gray."
Nakabuang Beach, Philippines – Lia Ocampo's favorite beach is the pristine Nakabuang Beach in the Philippines. Why? The scenic view, the fresh air, the walk along the beach and the sea creatures.
Lake Erie, Ohio – Pam Jenkins often walks her dog along the Lake Erie beach near her home in Perry, Ohio. On a stormy September Sunday, they went hoping to see a water spout. "No luck, but the surf and sky was amazing," she says.
Honomalino Bay, Hawaii – This Honomalino Bay beach may be remote, but visitors are not alone in the water. "[It] even has the great gentle giant whale sharks, real sharks and it's loaded with dolphins," says Lee Gunderson.
Hanauma Bay, Oahu – After returning from Iraq, Stephanie Logue spent six weeks working with her Army unit in Hawaii. When she had a day off, she went snorkeling in Hanauma Bay. "The shape of the beach, the abundance of reef, reef fish and turtles really stood out," she says. "You can swim in fairly shallow waters and see amazing species."
Bandon Beach, Oregon – Jennifer King went on a trip to explore and photograph the Oregon coast. When she found Bandon Beach, she was impressed by the beach's "incredible sea stacks, multiple vista points plus public beach access that allowed visitors to walk along the coast."
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic – "What is a beach?" Lee Gunderson writes. "It is simply a frame for beautiful moments and people." Gunderson shot this photo of a female tourist in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
Costa Rica – To avoid a harsh winter in the Northeast, Trevor Murphy traveled to Costa Rica on a surf exploration trip. "Clear warm water with a nice offshore breeze warms up the cold northeast bones," he writes. He shot this photo with a 15 mm fish-eye lens.
Costa Calma, Canary Islands – Markku Rainer Peltonen marveled at the clean air and water of Costa Calma Beach on the island of Fuerteventura. He says it is a great location for swimming and hiking.