Amazing Coastal Photography
Transport yourself across the globe to one of our stunning postcard destinations.
It's the water. The water. The water. You can't stop ogling it. It's like you've never seen the ocean before. Something so attractive and enticing that you don't want to tear your eyes away. This must be how addiction starts. You look at the incredible turquoise blues with sunglasses off. You look at them again with your sunglasses on. You pass your polarized Maui Jims to someone else. "Are you seeing what I am seeing?" Yes, he is. It's just ARUBA. It has that thing, the way some really beautiful models and actors do. They can't help it. It's nature's lottery. Well, Aruba, you won big time. And I'm in. Way in.
On a winding roadway known for incredible views, perhaps the most dramatic vistas of California's Highway 1 appear along the narrow, two-lane region of Big Sur, about two hours south of San Francisco. Here, the panoramas are immense, with rocky mountains plunging way down to crashing seas. There are plentiful pull-offs: Obviously no one can resist driving for long without stopping for a lingering look. Some people perch at cliff's edge, leaning out for a better photo; others stand many cautious steps back. Either way, it's front and center—wind, ocean's roar, and all that blue.
Time seems to pause, just for a moment, at dawn on the South End of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Viewed from Peirce Island, the back channel of the Piscataqua River lies as calm as the deserted streets. Soon, inside gorgeous 18th- and 19th-century houses, sleepy people will start to stir. Tourists will begin strolling the sidewalks, devouring the feast of historic architecture. The Chandler's Loft, a favorite waterfront café, will open its breakfast/lunch counter, and life will go on as it has here in Portsmouth's oldest neighborhood since 1630. But first, in the still morning, the best efforts of humans and nature come together for a fleeting instant of transcendent beauty
During the day, this lifeguard station is a hub of South Beach, surrounded by cushioned lounge chairs, white umbrellas, and bronzed bodies on bright beach towels. But as the sun sinks into the horizon, the crowds dissipate, letting this red, white, and blue beauty be the lone star on the shore. This station—one of 29 individually designed towers that dot the white sands of Miami—was part of an effort to draw people back to the beach following the devastation of hurricanes in 1992 and 2005. And sure enough, it has earned its glory
A jeep excursion, a ferry ride down the Preguiças River, and your own two feet—that's what it takes to reach the lagoons in northeastern Brazil's Lençóis Maranhenses National Park. The sweeping, Sahara-like landscape of 40-foot-tall white sand dunes may seem all desert at first, but the park is prone to great rainfall during the wet season (December through July). The freshwater droplets collect in valleys, forming beautiful blue and teal lagoons. This particular spot, Lagoa do Peixe, maintains a healthy water level even in the driest season, so bathing suit--clad visitors know they can stop here for a dip in crystal clear water. Cradled in the desert's cool blue, you realize you've reached no mirage—just pure miracle.
On this mystical isle in the Aegean Sea, a colorful tableau comes alive over the town of Oia at sunset, when fiery swaths of orange, yellow, and rust meet up at day's end. Visitors and locals take to the narrow streets around town, populated with blue-domed churches and traditional Cycladic whitewashed homes. The view from Santorini's cliffs is pristine, suspending you somewhere between earth and sky as the sun kisses the wavy horizon. Is there a sizzle when they meet? You hear only silence, beautiful in its simplicity. Golden light ignites the sky and streaks the hillside, the black-pebble beach, and the ocean below. It's a true rendezvous of sun and sea.
It is no wonder that Viking and Basque explorers returned home with tales of a wild and magnificent land across the sea, having reached this northern-most tip of Nova Scotia's Cape Breton Island. Off the wind-scoured highlands swam a plentitude of whales, porpoises, dolphins, and cod, luring ancient adventurers back to build summer fishing camps and tiny ports, digging small farms and sturdy villages into the soil. Now, a staunch string of eight Top of the Island communities (including tiny Capstick on Wreck Cove, shown here) inherits that legacy of farm and fishery, plying those trades into the modern age. And it welcomes a new generation of explorers seeking the remote beauty of Canada's maritime treasures
Some have compared it to gin. That's how clear the water is surrounding the 40 islands and cays of Turks & Caicos, a tranquil Caribbean archipelago that arcs southeast of the Bahamas and points the way to the Dominican Republic. When you don a mask and wade into these warm waters, you discover just what lures divers and snorkelers here: the islands' coral-rich barrier reef, one of the world's longest. Underwater, you see everything with a clarity that seems enhanced, a high-definition world of light and sparkle. It's a view that may, in fact, be even more transformative than a Tanqueray, neat.
Shot by in the shallow water just offshore of Northwest Point with a Canon EOS-1Ds and 15mm fisheye lens in an underwater housing. To get the "over/under" image of half air, half water requires a very wide-angle lens and a small aperture for exposure.
"He who has seen Paris and not Cassis has seen nothing," declaimed writer Frédéric Mistral, the 1904 Nobel laureate who clearly knew this stretch of the French Riviera as well as he knew literature. East of Marseille, this ancient and fortified harbor is a favorite getaway for the French, but often overlooked by the rest of the world's Mediterranean pleasure-seekers, who answer the siren calls of Nice and St. Tropez. If they only knew what they're missing: a bustling waterfront, glorious sunbathing, and the famed calanques—deep and narrow inlets that make for high-romance boat excursions, picnics, and swims.
Photo taken by Marco Maccarini with a Nikon D300 and wide-angle lens when the photographer came upon the deck of l'Hôtel de la Plage Le mahogany, dotted with colorful umbrellas and armchairs. A partially cloudy sky offered a soft and diffuse light.
In breathtaking understatement, the Hawaiian words na pali mean, simply, "the cliffs." What is left unsaid is what truly takes the breath away: a 4,000-foot palisade of formidable emerald green, carved deeply and vertically along its face by streams and waterfalls, and crowned by jagged spires along its ridge. Unmarred by roads and protected by the state as wilderness, this 17-mile stretch of Kauai coastline can be explored only on foot via vertiginous trails that skirt its steeps. To approach from the water (as the Polynesians did) you can cruise on a catamaran. Then again, you might hover aloft in a helicopter for hire, and struggle to put your wonder into words.
Shot by Frans Lanting from a helicopter using a Nikon camera and wide-angle 24mm lens, taking advantage of afternoon light.
Sequestered in the northern-most reaches of North Carolina's Outer Banks like a prize rose in a garden's private corner, tiny Corolla (population 600) is a resplendent outpost amid white sands and salt water. While home for centuries to Native Americans, and to the wild horses that still roam the beaches today, the town gained its name in 1895 when the postal service—notorious for changing the names of Outer Banks towns—had the consideration to ask villagers what they wanted to be called. Their choice— the botanical term for a flower's petals—was a name both romantic and predictive. Now, more than a century later, a spread of bright homes along those still-vast sands looks from above like a cheery blast of flower power.
While sailing might be considered a pursuit borne in silence, the beginning of a sailing race, as each boat tacks and jibes for position at the starting gun, is anything but: the snap of sails taking in wind, the slap of sea against hulls, the clang of rigging, the calls and barks of skippers to crews and their throaty chorus of assent, and then a gun blast that cracks through the humid, tropical air. It's five solid days of such starts at Quantum Key West Race Week, a nautical pilgrimage that draws thousands of sailors and hundreds of boats from around the world to Florida's tiny coral outpost for offshore competition and onshore occupation of the quirky island's clubs and bars (a pursuit, by the way, never borne in silence).
On California's beloved pleasure pier, boardwalk culture persists and thrives: seafood in the rough, spun sugar, and games that trump electronics with old-fashioned joys— hurling darts at balloons and beanbags at pyramids of bottles. Here, too, are rides that transcend time: a carousel, a roller coaster, bumper cars, and a resplendent, slow-turning Ferris wheel. Aglow and shimmering, the boardwalk beckons us to come join its nostalgic world of amusements—a world that promises to endure for all the summer days and nights to come.
Where a jumble of boulders makes for the perfect leap into Indian summer—and Lake Superior.
Photographer Bryant Scannell took this shot on a North Minnesota camping trip of a jump into surprisingly warm Lake Superior waters with a Canon 5D and an EF 50mm f/1.4 lens.
Sunlight illuminates the tools of a lobsterman's trade during the hauling of nets in the Tyrrhenian Sea.
While searching for female lobsters for a repopulation program, marine researcher and photographer Paolo Cipriani took this shot with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III and EF 24-70 mm f/2.8 L II USM lens.
“Bathing boxes” at Muizenberg Beach keep colorful watch over the Indian Ocean’s warm waters.
Photographer Neil Overy got up early in the morning to capture what he calls the “epic light” and no surfers offshore at the popular beachfront destination. He used a Canon EOS 5D Mk1 with a Canon 24-70 F2.8L lens.
In this watery world of more than 7,000 islands, every paddle stroke leads to a new escape.
Photographer Francisco Guerrero used a Canon EOD 5d Mark III with a 17-40mm lens to capture two boatmen approaching Isla Walang Lang-aw ("Island Without Trees") from the shore of Dimakya Island.
Fine-art photographer Gray Malin was soaring over the beaches of Saint-Tropez in a helicopter when he was struck by the pattern of orange umbrellas in contrast with "the stunning teal of the Mediterranean Sea." He shot the scene using a Canon 5D with a 24-105mm USM lens, no filter.
The vaulted arc of this tiny island's Crystal Cave frames the Aegean and lures climbers to its dizzying apogee.
Photographer Dan Patitucci did his own rock climbing to frame this view of his friend–professional climber and guide Simon Duverney–making his way along an extremely difficult route. As marine fog lifted and before the sun went down, Patitucci used a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with a 16-35 f2.8 lens to capture the high-flying image.
In a wonderful confluence of orderly and untamed, North Carolina's wild Banker horses pace the sands of this Outer Banks beach.
Photographer Megan Maloy grew up vacationing with family on the Outer Banks, and has long loved the area's wild horses. On an uncrowded day on this stretch of beach at the northern end (only accessed via four-wheel drive from nearby Corolla), Maloy spotted the horses walking in formation. She captured the image with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II with a Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L lens.
The Caribbean Sea froths as it meets—and mingles with—the soft, pale sands of the Yucatán.
Photographers Ryan and Sonia Rickett (Rickett & Sones) are in love with the water off Tulum's coast. "It purifies and rejuvenates our souls," Ryan says. Using a fast shutter speed of 1/2000 (at f/8, ISO 500) with a Canon 5D MK3 and a vintage Nikon 50mm prime lens adapted to the body, the photographers sought to capture that magic: "Even now when I look at this image," Ryan says, "I can feel the warm water washing over my feet, sinking me deeper into the soft sand."