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20 stunning cliffside beaches

Story highlights

  • Beaches with cliffs towering over them have a powerful allure
  • Erosion has created distinctive arches in Spain, France and beyond
  • You'll have to work harder to get to many of them, but the settings are worth it

(CNN)There's nothing like high drama on a beach.

Sandy stretches that meander slowly and serenely into gentle waves are lovely. But that's not the kind of beach that makes your knees buckle and has you reaching for your camera before you've got the sunscreen on your nose.

Instead, head for beaches where cliffs tower over the shore. Finding your way to the sand at these spots is often no easy feat. You'll probably need to hike, climb or boat in, and some of these beaches are not recommended for swimming.

But what you trade in approachability is offset by the wow factor.

Beaches that cozy up to cliffs provide settings that stick with you -- in far more than a sand-in-your-shorts kind of way.

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