Shore stories: Three bits of folklore about famous coastlines

January 17, 2019

The world’s most famous coastlines aren’t just photo-worthy geological features — they’re landscapes in constant flux, ruled by wind, waters, and the shifting planet. National Geographic Journeys with G Adventures shows you picturesque shorelines that have long captured people’s attention. Take to the southwest coast of India, where Kerala’s lush beachy coast hugs nearly 600km (373 mi) of the Arabian Sea. Discover the chilling beauty of Iceland’s wind-whipped shores, home to stunning black-pebble beaches and lava formations thousands of years old. Along the western United States’ California coast, watch as the Pacific Ocean crashes against the shoreline, shaping it with every churn. On a National Geographic Journeys tour, witness how natural forces have created some of the most dramatic, and beautiful, places in our world.


The world’s oceans and coastlines are as beautiful as they are storied — often with myths, superstitions, and beliefs that date back centuries. Here are three little-known bits of folklore from some of the world’s most beautiful coasts.

Kerala

The beautiful coastlines of India’s Kerala province, which sit on the Arabian Sea, are home to more than tall coconut trees and striking sunsets (though they have those, too). At Papanasam Beach, the waters are believed to wash bathers of sin — there are priests from the nearby Janardana Swami Temple (which, at 2,000 years old, is worth visiting on its own) to assist swimmers who wish to partake in a dip that’s more ritualistic than relaxing.

Learn more about our South India: Explore Karala tour here.


Iceland

This North Atlantic island is steeped in ancient Norse mythology — tour guides will often tell you to watch where you step, lest you disturb the homes of trolls and fairies. And while you may be familiar with some of Norse mythology’s land-dwelling gods (Thor, anyone?), the ancient belief system is also full of water gods and spirits. These include Nix, which are similar to mermaids; they were (or are, if you like) shapeshifters, and spotting one was a bad omen that typically signalled drowning.

Learn more about our Explore Iceland tour here.

Monterey, California

The famous “17-mile drive,” a length of road that stretches from Pebble Beach to Monterey in central California, is beautiful and picturesque — but, apparently, haunted. There have been sightings of The Lady in Lace, a woman dressed in all white, walking along the road in the area. She is purported to be the ghost of a woman named Dona Maria del Carmen Barreto, who once owned much of the land in the area. Others simply believe she’s the ghost of a jilted bride. Either way, don’t skip the drive — but keep your eyes peeled for the ghostly figure!

Learn more about our National Parks of the American West tour here.

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