We've seen a lot of beaches on this trip, and all of them are very special in their own way. It's easy to narrow down my two favorites, though, but since I didn't get to go swimming at one of them (an instant deal breaker) the number one spot in my heart goes to Cathedral Cove.
As I was walking the trail to the beach I just kept thinking about how beautiful it was and how much I wanted to stay here. It wasn't breathtaking so much as word-taking; I really can't find any words to describe the place, but I think pictures may be able to do it justice. It's definitely a unique gem both to me and to geology. It ran the whole coastal process/weathering gamut: at the beach there was the namesake, the Cathedral, the huge tunnel in the middle of a cliff. There were also some caves (which we swam into and were really cool because they had mini beaches inside!), and sea stacks offshore. All three stages were in one place; sea cave to hole to sea stack! The rock composing all of these structures was tuff, which is ash that has been compressed into rock – the "raisin pudding" without the raisins. There was also honeycomb weathering inside the Cathedral, which is caused by salt deposits from ocean spray crystallizing on rock and prying apart mineral grains within the rock, which leaves these spots open to weathering. The beach itself was determined to be an intermediate beach. Walking through the Cathedral was very cool, though they had recently had a small collapse and you were restricted to walking through a tiny roped off area. The beach on the other side was beautiful too!
I was also dying to go for a swim there, so I did, for at least an hour! The water was beautiful, though it was 19 degrees C so it was pretty cold when you first got in. But the water was very clear and I snorkeled around for a while near the rocks and sea stacks. I didn't see too much biology, but there was kelp, two grouper-looking fish, maybe a foot or a foot and a half long, and a big school of silver fish around 8 inches long. Somebody had said they saw a stingray, though I didn't witness it. There was a good rock for jumping off of out a way off shore (I did it twice!). The trip was a lot, lot of fun. The worst part of my day was definitely when we had to leave Cathedral Cove. It's just such a beautiful and awe inspiring place that I know I will go back there someday.