Consider a world similar in most ways to Earth, except with no tides. (No moon, and for some reason outside the scope of this question, solar tides are negligible.)

Would it have beaches as we know them?

That is, would the familiar wonderful stretch of sand on which the waves wash up and down, still exist? Or is it the case that if there are no tides, and the sea always stays at the same level relative to the shore, trees or other vegetation would grow right down to the sea, and there would be no stretch of sand?

  • $\begingroup$ If you want an island with no beaches, try Saba beach.com/beaches/caribbean-island-no-beaches-saba - Basically a huge lump of rock sticking out of the sea. $\endgroup$ – chasly - supports Monica Apr 14 at 11:18
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    $\begingroup$ The entire Mediterranean - Adriatic - Aegean - Propontis - Black Sea complex, around which which the Classical civilization flourished, is (almost) tideless. The Romans were very surprised when they encountered the large tides of the Atlantic... And yet, the Mediterranean has some of the most beautiful beaches of this world. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Apr 14 at 11:45
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    $\begingroup$ The Caribbean also has generally low tides. Montego Bay in Jamaica has a tidal range of about 30 centimeters. $\endgroup$ – Keith Morrison Apr 14 at 13:10
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    $\begingroup$ Lakes don't have tides, but many have beaches. $\endgroup$ – SurpriseDog Apr 15 at 5:08

The sea were I use to swim since I was born has tides so small that are hardly noticeable, yet it has beaches. Storms and currents take care of splashing salty water around and keeping vegetation distant.

For a reference, tides heights are in the range of 10 cm, and the waterline sweeps maybe 1 m. The vegetation is at least at 50 meters from the waterline, unless a storm washes away the sand and then let the vegetation collapse into the sea.

The same would happen on your planet.



Sandy beaches are formed by currents, and mostly by wave action.

What would change without tides is the width of the sandy region of the beach. Without tides, the distance between the waterline and the dunes or vegetation behind the beach will be very much narrower.


Aside from the answers previously given, you might also want to consider the example of large lakes. The Great Lakes have a theoretical tidal range of 5 centimeters, which is small enough to be considered non-existent as it would be entirely masked by changes in waves due to wind, and yet beaches are far from uncommon. For example:

Here's Sauble Beach on Lake Huron:


Post Stanley on Lake Erie:


And Hanlan's Point Beach on Lake Ontario:


I could also show you pictures of beaches on Lake Winnipeg and many, many other lakes that don't have any real sort of tidal ranges.

As was mentioned, the presence of beaches relies more on the geology of the area, topography, and water currents than it does the tide.

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    $\begingroup$ You don't even need large lakes. Many small ones have extensive beaches. For instance en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washoe_Lake has a sandy beach all along its eastern side. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Apr 14 at 17:15

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