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Anyone know where or how to obtain a database of worldwide beaches?

Required fields are:

  • name
  • latitude
  • longitude
  • coastline aspect (if possible)

Alternatively, is there a way to query Google Maps to find the closest beaches to a given geolocation?

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I'm not sure that "beach" is common world-wide. Those things called "beach" in the UK would be "rocks" in Australia. Anyway, perhaps wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Tag:natural%3Dbeach and wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Overpass_API might be suitable if you are OK with the OdBL that Open Street Map uses. –  BradHards Jan 18 '13 at 9:40
    
Thanks @BradHards, OpenStreetMap looks like a great resource. The licence is fine - happy to give credit to its contributors. If you make this an answer I'll mark it as accepted. –  Zubin Jan 18 '13 at 17:45
    
@BradHards those things called "beach" in the UK would be laughed out of Australia –  Stephen Lead Jan 22 '13 at 22:56
    
Natural Earth has a selection of physical vector data, such as ocean coastlines and lakes. –  Brad Koch Jul 7 at 23:46
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4 Answers

Maybe try looking at the Places API and try querying on one of the second places types (https://developers.google.com/places/documentation/supported_types#table2). Beaches could possibly be in the 'natural_feature' category but that still doesn't get around the language problem. Good Luck.

I believe the UK English word for beach is "Frigidpebble" ;-P

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I'm not sure that "beach" is common world-wide. Those things called "beach" in the UK would be "rocks" in Australia.

Anyway, perhaps wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Tag:natural%3Dbeach and wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Overpass_API might be suitable if you are OK with the ODbL that Open Street Map uses.

Note that ODbL requires more than just attribution. A simple version of the rights and responsibilities is at http://opendatacommons.org/licenses/odbl/summary/

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For Uk
Bathing Waters Quality at Designated Beaches, a shapefile is available to download from the Environment Agency at:

http://www.geostore.com/environment-agency/WebStore?xml=environment-agency/xml/ogcDataDownload.xml

This may be of help for the UK.

Something on this site may be of use for the US but I have no reason to use it so dont know: http://www.fws.gov/gis/data/national/index.html

Hope this helps.

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Thanks @Gerald, great resources but unfortunately I need the rest of the world too. –  Zubin Jan 18 '13 at 17:51
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maybe this can help you (shorelines): http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/mgg/shorelines/gshhs.html

they have both ESRI shapefile format or binary format

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Thanks @A.R, looks perfect for establishing the coastline aspect. Will give it a try. –  Zubin Jan 18 '13 at 17:48
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