Sea arches are a spectacular phenomena created by Mother Nature with a little help from oceans. They are usually composed of a soft rock that eroded over millions of years as waves hit land, carving caves and tunnels in the rock. Some arches are accessible by beachcombers at low tide, while others can be reached only by boat Some arches are big enough to drive watercraft through. All will provide a field day for photographers, too.
Kleftiko Beach, on the Greek island of Milos, offers an opportunity to see multiple sea arches, some of which are big enough to navigate boats through. These elaborate arches are located off shore, and come in all sizes and shapes. They are accessible only by boat. Most boats include a stop for swimming and snorkeling in the cruise. Local legend says that pirates used to hide out in the on- and offshore caves.
La Portada (The Gateway) arch stands 43 meters (140 feet) high in the Pacific Ocean in the Antofagasta region of Chile. The arch is made of andesite stone, sedimentary rocks and sandstone, as well as fossils that are millions of years old. The arch is not too far from the shore. An overlook on the shore offers great views of this much-photographed Chilean phenomenon. Visitors may want to bring binoculars, as it’s a popular place to view seals, vultures and other marine life as well.
The Pigeon Rocks are two huge rock formations situated at Beirut’s western-most tip. The gigantic sentinels are a popular destination for locals and visitors alike. The seaside promenade, or corniche, directly in front of the rocks is an excellent viewing point, but far more interesting is to take one of the tracks down to the lower cliffs.
The Great Pollet Arch sits close to the shore of the coast of County Donegal in Ireland. Located on the Fanad Peninsula, the Great Pollet Arch is a massive rock formation that photographs well in all sorts of weather and any time of the day. The arch was carved out of the rock by the motions of the Atlantic Ocean. It is considered a prime example of marine erosion. The arch is surrounded by smaller rocks and tidal pools.
Pura Batu Bolong is a small temple located just a stone’s throw from Bali’s famous Tanah Lot temple. It is perched at the end of a rocky promontory that leaps seaward into the surging Indian Ocean. The rock has a natural hole, hence the name, as batu bolong literally means ‘rock with hole’.
The 12 meter (40 foot) Arch Rock is one of several natural bridges on Anacapa Island, one of the Channel Islands archipelago off the coast of California. It’s a true natural beauty and is often used as the face of the Channel Islands. Besides the arch, the island offers two more iconic features. These are Inspiration Point, offering breathtaking views, and the Anacapa Island Lighthouse.
Hopewell Rocks is a good place to get up-close and personal with sea arches. Located on Canada’s Bay of Fundy, this New Brunswick Province’s arches are on shore, which means that visitors can walk through the arches and picnic beside them at low tide. The bay has the highest tides in the world, so when it’s high tide, travelers can paddle through the arches by canoe or kayak.
Honopu Arch is the tallest arch in Hawaii. It can be found on the Na Pali coast on the island of Kaua’i. It is in an isolated part of the island, reachable only by boat and then swimming to shore as boats cannot dock here. It is more like a natural bridge, as there’s a waterfall on the landside that drains through the arch’s tunnel. There’s a small beach area on each side of the arch. The area appeared in the 1976 remake of King Kong and in the 1998 movie Six Days Seven Nights.
A breathtaking natural limestone arch with a flat top, the Azure Window is one of Malta’s top attractions. Situated on the island of Gozo, the arch has been featured in movies and television shows, and is a famous icon of Malta. The tourist village of Dwejra is nearby to serve the needs of visitors who scuba dive, swim and boat around the arch where it drops into the Dwejra Bay. The arch is visible from a great distance. Most people hike there, enjoying the extraordinary view as they go and then cooling off in the water.
Accessible only on foot, boat or kayak, Cathedral Cove is one of the top attractions on the Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand. The area features two beautiful beaches separated by a huge rock arch. The cathedral-like arch gives the whole area an air of grandeur. The beach is sandy with shady pohutukawa trees along the foreshore; a perfect place for a picnic and a swim.
El Arco is a golden-colored sea arch found at the tip of the Baja Peninsula near Cabo San Lucas. It is also called Land’s End because if one draws a straight line south, the next land it hits is the South Pole. El Arco is visible from all over Cabo, but travelers may also want to approach it via a boat. El Arco is where the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez meet.
Playa de las Catedrales, or Beach of the Cathedrals, near Ribadeo, Spain, is also known as the Playa de Aguas Santas (Beach of Holy Waters) because the rock formations of these multiple sea arches resemble the spires on cathedrals. Some of the arches and caves can be seen only at low tide. Located on the Bay of Biscay, it’s possible to walk through the area at low tide. During high tide, the water isn’t as friendly to visitors.
Wharariki Beach is considered the gem of Tasman. Located at the northernmost edge of New Zealand’s South Island, it doesn’t get as many visitors as other Kiwi beaches, perhaps because it requires a walk through forests and over sand dunes to reach from the parking lot. Those who make the trek, however, will be rewarded with spectacular beaches and sea arches that sit out in the ocean. The beach is a good place to go horseback riding and see marine life, such as seals.
Legzira Beach, south of Agadir, is considered Morocco’s most unique beach, probably due to the gigantic sea arches that dot the beach. They are so big that a person standing underneath one at low tide will seem like a small doll. The arches glow red at sunset, making a very picturesque scene. The beach is popular with hang gliders and parasailers, but it’s also a good place to sit and enjoy the spectacular sea arches.
Durdle Door is a sea arch that juts out from the Jurassic Coast of Dorset, England. It is privately owned, but is open to the public. Made of limestone, the arch is joined to land by a 120-meter (390-foot) long isthmus. This sea arch is accessible by foot, though it involves walking a steep path with steps from Lulworth Cove. The 140-million year-old Durdle Door is one of the most photographed spots on the Jurassic Coast.