Despite possessing approximately 9,000 miles worth of coastline, China is not known for its beaches.
Admittedly, for the most part, the areas where Mainland China meets the water aren’t what we typically think of as a “beach.” Much of it is rocky, some has been developed into ports, and other areas are currently dealing with pollution. And yet, beautiful sandy beaches can still be found.
However, perhaps the most interesting “beach” is actually a coastal wetland.
Red Beach in Panjin, China looks like something out of a fantasy movie. Over large swathes of the area – the biggest wetland and reed marsh in the world – the only things visible are meandering waters, the occasional house on stilts, and a vast sea of red.
This unearthly, vibrant color is the result of Suaeda salsa, a red plant in the Chenopodiaceae family (the so-called Goosefoot family, which includes, among others, spinach and quinoa).
The plant is able to overtake the entire area due to its ability to grow in high-alkaline soil.
Were one to take an extreme long-exposure image of the area, the entire Red Beach could be seen darkening in color. When Suaeda salsa is young – in early spring, around April – it appears a lighter red color. However, as it grows to maturity, the redness deepens.
Like the turning of the leaves in New England, peak season for viewing the Red Beach is autumn. Tourists flock to see the beautiful and unusual crimson landscape.
The Red Beach is accessible from most major Chinese cities via train, bus, cab, or a combination of all three. While the flora clearly steals the show, Red Beach is not without some distinctive fauna, as well. The area is home to around 400 species of wildlife including nearly 250 species of birds plus its famed mitten crabs.