The Most Scenic Coastlines to See From Above
Memorial Day is the official start to summer—and with it, beach season. There’s nothing quite as calming as the sound of the surf and the feel of the sun and sand to transport you to an easier lifestyle, far from everyday pressures. The beach itself is a symbol of happiness that is universally joyful, nostalgic and calming. With the images shot from doorless helicopters in his new book, Coastal, Gray Malin tries “to capture these feelings,” and says, “I hope my aerial photography continues to bring viewers back to the places they love and motivate[s] them to go to the places they still want to see.” From the teal blue waters of Lake Michigan to the white sand beaches of Perth, Australia, here are some of his favorite coastlines to help “make every day a getaway.”

Ke Huy Quan Talks Representation

“The more you see, the more you understand, and the less you’re afraid of it.” ▸ P.64


01 Surfing Waikiki


The beauty of the Hawaiian Islands is beyond comparison; there is such a serene, relaxing energy there. I visit as often as I can to breathe the fresh air, recharge and reconnect.

Hawaii really embodies the same spirit I try to evoke in my work—to make every day a getaway.

02 Bixby Bridge


The ultimate road trip along California’s Pacific Coast Highway must include a drive through Big Sur National Park. There is a celestial energy along the coastline near Bixby Bridge that is contagious and provides long-lasting memories for all who visit.

03 Charlevoix Channel Ferry


I grew up spending my summers on Lake Michigan and have a lifelong connection to the Midwest. The stunning teal water of the Great Lakes and the sweeping sand dunes are this area’s best kept secret.

04 Aquinnah Beach


For a relatively small island, Martha’s Vineyard is extremely rich in history as well as chock-full of fun “must-sees and dos.” Don’t miss Aquinnah Beach, famous for its red cliffs. And wherever you end up, be sure to eat a lot of the local catch and enjoy this beautiful slice of American heaven.

05 Joatinga Beach


Rio de Janeiro has a beach culture unlike any city I have ever visited. Locals spend sunrise to sunset thriving under the sun. It’s part of their Brazilian identity—a way of life.

06 La Fontelina Beach Club


When I flew over the island of Capri there were very few beaches as it’s a rocky island, so it was mesmerizing to see these blue umbrellas staggered on top of the rocks against the deep blue sea.

07 King’s Bath


There are so many sides to Cape Town. It is exquisitely stunning yet rugged. The coastline is enhanced by many natural pools that the locals use for swimming since the ocean water can be quite cold. From above, these pools look dazzling set against the crashing waves and earthy tones of the rock formations.

08 Dubai Beach Club


The beaches of Dubai are very difficult to access by air, so I consider myself incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to capture their beauty and share the experience through my photography. I have seen so many fabulous umbrellas in my lifetime, but I have never seen any like these, reminiscent of puffs of meringues.

09 Phang Nga Bay


Visiting some of the most beloved beaches in Phuket requires a boat to gain access to the islands. One of the most popular areas to visit by boat is Phang Nga Bay National Park, a geological wonder filled with islets, sunken caverns and startling rock formations made of limestone that rise vertically out of the water.

10 Rottnest Island


The land down under is one of the most memorable and remarkable places I have ever been—especially the natural beauty and sense of limitless adventure throughout the country, including the serene beachscapes of Perth.

11 Milford Sound


The first time I visited New Zealand I did three helicopter rides in three different regions; one over the North Island, one over the top of the South Island and one over Queenstown. Unfortunately, the weather was not great when I shot Queenstown, so I returned six weeks later to photograph this area.

Adapted from COASTAL©

Gray Malin. Published by Abrams.