Sea arches are some of the most breathtaking natural formations found on our planet. In this article, we take a look at some of the most beautiful and famous sea arches around the world, and learn about their formation and features.
All sea arches started out as sea caves. However, tidal forces eroded rock right through the caves over a period of thousands of years, to form sea arches.
Natural sea arches and bridges are some of the most amazing rock formations in the world. They are all made of stone, created when the sea water wears out the underside of the rock, leaving only the top portion intact. This especially happens when the bottom layers are made of a softer material than the top. These structures are usually formed where mountain cliffs meet the oceans.
All sea arches around the world are made with a mix of wind and water erosion, and because of this, most of them will eventually collapse, with age and deterioration. So these features are rare sights which can disappear without warning. We shall now learn about 25 of the most famous sea arch locations across the globe, that are sure to spark the sense of awe in any person who visits them.
Morocco – Legzira Beach
Found to the south of Agadir in Morocco, the Legzira beach is one of the most unique beaches on our planet. It boasts of some of the most famous sea arches in the world. The red arches are immense, and people standing under one will appear like tiny toys in comparison. The view during sunset is even more spectacular, as the cliffs appear like they are glowing in the red sunlight. While enjoying the spectacular view of the arches is the main objective to get here, one can also go hang gliding or para-sailing in the area.
Spain – La Playa de las Catedrales, Canary Islands
The Beach of the Cathedrals, which is locally known as La Playa de las Catedrales, is one of the most beautiful natural landmarks of Ribadeo, Spain. The name of the place comes from the numerous sea arches and caves, which resemble spires from a cathedral. Some of the caves and arches get submerged during high tide, so it is advised to visit the site during low tide to get the best views.
The Spanish Canary Islands offer some really beautiful sea arches, which were formed due to the erosion of lava caves. One can go snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, windsurfing, etc., while relaxing in the shadows of these rocky behemoths.
United Kingdom – Durdle Door, Green Bridge of Wales, Bow Fiddle Rock
One of the most favored spots for nature lovers in the U.K., the Durdle Door is a huge sea arch made of limestone. It is located on the Jurassic coast of Dorset in England. Although the land is privately owned, the arch is accessible to the public. Due to the scenic beauty, the Durdle Door is one of the most photographed locations in the region. Fossil hunters also have a chance of finding some good specimens, dating back millions of years.
The Green Bridge of Wales is located in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park of Wales, and is just as beautiful as the Durdle Door, if not more. One can even see numerous sea stacks from here. However, the site is not as accessible due to rough seas that surround the arch. Another beautiful sea arch in the United Kingdom is the Bow Fiddle Rock of Portknokie, Scotland. It is named so because the arch resembles the tip of a bow. Made of quartzite, this immense arch provides visitors with a great view of the Scottish coast.
France – The Arches of Étretat
Found in the Normandy region in northwest France, the town of Étretat is famous for three spectacular sea arches, namely, the Manneporte, Porte d’Amont, and Porte d’Aval. These rock formations have been featured in the paintings of world-famous artists, such as Gustave Courbet, Eugene Boudin, and Claude Monet, which is one of the reasons why people come to experience the great view for themselves.
Ireland – The Great Pollet Arch
Close to the coast of Donegal county in Ireland, the Great Pollet Arch is considered to be one of the best examples of marine erosion by the Atlantic Ocean. The massive rock formation in the Fanad peninsula offers some of the best photographic opportunities. Numerous rocks and tidal pools surround the arch, making the view really picturesque.
Malta – Azure Window
Also known as Tieqa Zerqa, this is one of the most famous sea arches in the world, and is a very highly visited attraction of the country. The lovely limestone arch located on the island of Gozo is surrounded by sparkling water is truly a great sight to behold. The 164 feet high arch is located in the Dwejra Bay, and visitors can scuba dive, snorkel, or boat, while taking in the beauty of the arch. However, due to weather erosion, the arch is expected to collapse in a few years time.
Lebanon – Pigeon Rocks
Situated at Beirut’s western-most area, the Pigeon Rocks are two huge rock formations, which are a popular destination for the locals and tourists alike, due to the beautiful sea arches, pristine water, and clean sand. Hiking to the lower cliffs of the Pigeon Rocks will give some really spectacular views, which should not be missed.
Mexico – El Arco, Cabo San Lucas
Located at the tip of the Baja Peninsula, near Cabo San Lucas, El Arco is a lovely yellow-gold colored sea arch. It is also sometimes known as Land’s End, as it is perpendicular to the South Pole. This arch marks the point where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean. Visitors to Cabo can see the arch from anywhere in town, but will have to use a boat to get close to it.
New Zealand – Cathedral Cove, Wharariki Beach
One of the best attractions in the Coromandel Peninsula of New Zealand, Cathedral Cove can be accessed only by foot or boat. The cove consists of two beaches which is separated by the massive sea arch, which gives the area a really grand appearance. The clean sand and water at the beaches make the place ideal for swimming and picnics.
The Wharariki beach is considered to be the most beautiful place in the Tasman region of New Zealand. It is located on the north of the country’s south island. It is a fairly remote beach, as people have to walk long distances through forests and sand to get here. However, the effort is totally worth it. The beaches and sea arches are spectacular to see. This place is also good for horse riding, and observing sea life like seals.
Chile – La Portada
Located in the Antofagasta region of Chile, the 140 feet high La Portada sea arch is a famous spot for people in love with nature. The arch is made of andesite, sedimentary stones, and sandstone. Visitors might even find fossils, most of which are millions of years old. If you are planning to visit the area, make sure to carry a pair of binoculars, as you might be able to see vultures, seals, and other types of marine life in this part of the sea. The arch is one of the 15 natural monuments that are protected by the laws of Chile.
U.S.A. – Anacapa Island, Natural Bridges Beach, Pfeiffer Beach, Holei Arch, Honopu Arch
Anacapa is one of the Channel Islands off the coast of California, which has a number of sea arches. The largest of these is around 40 feet tall, which offers some spectacular views of the surrounding seas and the natural beauty of the island. Visitors to Anacapa can also check out the lighthouse and other vantage points to get some great photographs.
The Natural Bridges State Beach in California is home to a few beautiful sea arch specimens, which can be explored during low tides. Besides this, visitors can also enjoy local tide pools and view seasonal monarch butterfly migrations. Pfeiffer beach also offers spectacular views of the resident keyhole sea arch, which beautifully focuses the rays of the sun during sunset.
Located at the Na Pali coast of the Kaua’i island, the Honopu Arch is the tallest sea arch in Hawaii. It is only reachable by traveling halfway by boat, followed by some swimming to the shore. The arch has a lovely tunnel, through which a lovely waterfall flows perpetually. Another famous sea arch in Hawaii is the Holei Arch, which formed due to the collapse of a lava tube.
Iceland – Hvítserkur
The Hvítserkur sea arch is actually the remains of an old central volcano located on the eastern shore of the Vatnsnes peninsula of northwestern Iceland. However, the basalt formation looks like a strange rock monster is drinking water. Therefore, local legends says that the arch is actually a troll, which was accidentally petrified when it was exposed to the sun.
Bali – Pura Batu Bolong
Located close to Bali’s world famous Tanah Lot temple, is the lesser-known Pura Batu Bolong temple. This small structure is located on the top of a large sea arch facing deep into the Indian Ocean. The words Batu Bolong come from its literal meaning ‘rock with hole’. However, the arch is in danger of collapsing due to regular footfalls of devotees visiting the temple.
Greece – Kleftiko Beach
If you ever visit the Greek island of Milos, the Kleftiko beach offers a number of beautiful sea arches of all shapes and sizes. Some of them are so big that entire boats can be driven through them. Since all the arches are off-shore, you will need to hire a boat to get to them. Scuba diving or snorkeling in this area is a real treat, and if you are lucky, you might even find a legendary pirate’s treasure located somewhere in the nearby seaside caves.
Portugal – Algarve Arches
The Algarve coast of southern Portugal is home to a number of beautiful sea arches. The spectacle arches made from limestone are one of the most visited spots in the region. It is recommended to take a boat ride along the coast in the Lagoa area for experiencing the best views.
Australia – London Arch
Perpetually pounded by powerful waves, the London arch is one of the main attractions in the Port Campbell National Park in Victoria, Australia. Initially, the structure was connected to the mainland in the form of a beautiful double sea arch, which was then known as the London Bridge. However, in 1990, the arch closer to the shore collapsed, which has now left the single arch island alone in the sea.
Visits to the beach are always relaxing, and the vastness of the horizon works wonders in putting one at peace. However, the presence of any of the above seaside formations will just enhance the experience that much more.