When choosing a beach holiday the usual checklist includes sun, sea, sand, cash, travel insurance and sun cream – but if you’re looking for a bit of beach variety this year, check out our guide to unique beaches off the beaten track; far flung destinations that take the investigative tourist far from the crowds into weird and wonderful landscapes.

Kuakata – Bangladesh

Located on the Bay of Bengal, Kaukata offers up 30km of wide, sandy beach, is hugged in the east by the Gangamati mangrove forest, lined with coconut groves and provides a resting place for flocks of migratory birds. Due to it’s natural cross-bow shape, this is one of the few beaches in the world where you can watch both the sunrise and sunset.

Glass Beach – Hawaii

A rocky outcrop on the southern edge of Kauai, Glass Beach is a comber’s dream destination. Rather than soft sand underfoot, the whole beach shines with ocean polished sea glass, creating a rainbow of colour on the shore.

Pfeiffer Beach – California

With the Santa Lucia Mountains providing a back drop on the Big Sur coastline, this area offers up a more rugged beach experience than its neighbouring Southern California spots. But aside from its rock stacks, surf and sunsets, Pfeiffer Beach is renowned for its purple sand, created by manganese garnet particles washing down the hillside – the further north you go, the deeper the colour gets.

 Source: Flickr [Link]

Sipadan Island – Malaysia

Located in the Celebes Sea, Sipadan is renowned as one of the top five dive sites in the world. A rainforest covered tropical island that rises just 700 meters from the ocean floor, the waters around Sipadan are flush with sea life. Within about eight meters of the beach the sea floor drops off to 600 meters, creating a meeting point for coral and deep water creatures. The island is also home to the eerie turtle grave yard – a network of caves, littered with the empty shells of these great seafaring reptiles.

Cleopatra’s Beach – Turkey

Alongside the remains of a Byzantine church, Roman walls and colonnades, olive groves and the foundations of the temple of Apollo, legend has it that the pearl-like, transparent sand on Cleopatra’s beach was shipped here from Egypt by Marc Anthony in honour of his royal lover. So cherished is the sand, even today, that boardwalks carry visitors over the beach directly into the water and vice versa.