Sand, sea and.. a hippo? Five beaches with unusual wildlife

July 30, 2009

Esquire’s round-up of 10 beaches best-avoided begins with Goa, where “sacred cows roam freely on the sand, taking cover under tourists’ umbrellas”. This picture proves as much, apparently showing a cows taking a break during a game of beach volleyball.

As Esquire admits, sat at your computer desk and free of the noxious downside, there’s something very cute and quaint about this scene.  But Goa’s not the only place where you can share the shore with unlikely wildlife – we’ve been inspired to list five more…

Tassi Savannah, Gabon
Part of Loango NP, Tassi Savannah borders the Atlantic and is renowned in National Geographic circles for its unusual beachcombers: during the rainy season (Oct-Apr), elephant, buffalo and even hippopotamus are often seen splashing in the shallows, or swimming in the surf.   Families of gorillas forage in the trees along the beach, as well – an exotic variation on pickpockets at Positano, if you like.  (Photo below – credit Michael Nichols, for National Geographic)

Bahamas
In one of its best-ever Page 3 stories, free UK morning newspaper Metro recently splashed about paddling piglets in the Bahamas.  On the curiously-named Big Major Spot Island in the Bahamas, a family of boars and piglets have swapped sty for blue sky, and decamped to a tropical paradise beach.  The swines.  Now feral, the gang can regularly be seen trotting along the beach, or oinking with delight and surging into the swell to bestow friendly greetings on newly-arrived catamarans, and cutely beg for a little lunch.  Give it a year, and they’ll probably be dishing out parasols and wearing tight red shorts.

Isle of Mull, Scotland
For idyllic, deserted white sand beaches and crystal clear (albeit cold!) waters, there are few places more idyllic than the Isle of Mull in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides. Mull’s wonderful-looking Highland Cattle seem to think so too, grazing as close to the water’s edge as it’s possible to get – seemingly ferocious beasties whose horned heads and shaggy ‘Sesame Street’ fringes belie an altogether more approachable, adventurous animal!

Turtle Beach, Barbados
There are many areas in Barbados where you can swim among turtles (green, hawksbill and leatherbacks), but at Turtle Beach on the west coast, there are two friendly turtles that visit every day directly in front of the famous Lone Star Restaurant (picture below)! To meet the duo, the optimum time is nesting season, between May and October. In fact, during this period large numbers (100-150 at a time) of turtles instinctively hatch in tandem, and then make their way down to the sea in a mass procession – an incredible sight.

Turtle Beach, St Kitts
Across the Caribbean, another Turtle Beach was once famed for its wildlife mayhem.  In the case of Turtle Beach on St Kitts, it was the sight of monkeys pinching punters’ beer… and then getting decidedly wobbly.  The video below captures the comedy of an addled ape perfectly – we can all recognise that look of blurry confusion and disorientation.  Sadly this particular animal playground has been bought by a private company, and the muddled monkeys banished from its shores.

Richard