Why do some beaches have black sand?
The 17 Most Extraordinary Beaches in the World!
Beaches always have a very special attraction. No matter where you are in the world, as soon as you pass a beach, your head automatically switches to relaxation mode. Maybe it's because of the sea, the sound of the waves or the incredible expanse of the horizon - whatever is responsible, beaches are very special places!
When you imagine a beach, you probably think of a white band of fine sand that stretches along a palm-lined coast: the sun is shining, the sea is sparkling turquoise blue and just thinking about it, you feel like chilling in the sand diving into the waves with a surfboard or snorkeling to see what's going on underwater. However, there are also completely different types of beaches that do not correspond to this idea at all.
For example, there are those that are not made of sand, but of shells or even glass - bizarre, right? Or sometimes the sand is not white, but green, pink or even jet black. Where else you imagine the palm trees, you will find icebergs or huge rock pillars on some beaches. Find out now where you can find such special and extraordinary beaches in the world and what adventures await you there!
17 Extraordinary beaches like from another world!
1. Shell Beach, Australia
With Whitehaven or Bondi Beach, Australia regularly appears in the lists of the most beautiful beaches in the world. However, Down Under there are not only endless white sandy beaches and spectacular stretches of coast, but also something really special: Shell Beach on Shark Bay in Western Australia!
At first glance, this beach is just as blindingly white as many others. At second glance, however, you will notice that you are not dealing with white sand, but with millions of shells! The beach consists of a shell layer up to 10 meters thick that was washed ashore here a few thousand years ago. There are some really cool hiking trails around Shell Beach to various viewpoints. Especially from Eagle Bluffs you have a great view over the mussel bay and if you are lucky you can even see sharks or dolphins in the clear water!
2. Papakolea, Hawaii
At the southernmost tip of the USA is Hawaii, one of the coolest islands for adventurers. The beach in Mahana Bay doesn't really look like a beach, but more like a meadow that flows directly into the sea. Because the sand at Papakolea Beach is not white, but olive green! The color comes from the mineral olivine, which is washed into the sea via the nearby Mauna Loa volcano. In principle, these are small green crystals that are heavier than all normal grains of sand and thus remain on the banks of the Papakolea and offer you this unique sight.
Incidentally, such green beaches are really rare! There are only four in this color worldwide. To see the green Mahana Beach, as it is called by the locals, with your own eyes, you first have to do a really blatant hike through the volcanic rock. You won't find any hiking trails or paths between the parking lot at the end of South Point Road and Papakolea. Instead, you orient yourself on the trails of other visitors.
On your way over the rugged volcanic cliffs, it can not only get hot and super humid, but also sometimes really windy. In addition to your hiking boots, you should definitely have enough to drink and have your bathing suit with you so that you can plunge into the waves from the green beach to cool off!
3. Glitter beaches, Maldives
You certainly associate the Maldives with lonely white sandy beaches, which form the perfect contrast to the turquoise blue waves. However, the surf on the Maldives can still be something really blatant on many beaches, namely glow! The locals also call the glittering beaches that you can find here every night from July to February, the “Sea of Stars”, and this description gets to the point: As soon as the waves break on the shores of the beaches, thousands of blue shining ones form Points that really remind of the starry sky - the absolute hammer!
A certain type of plankton in the water is responsible for the glittering beach, which begins to glow when it collides with the sand to repel fish. Such glittering star beaches are not only found on the Maldive islands Vaadhoo, Rangali and Mudhoo, but also in Mosquito Bay in Puerto Rico and on the coast of San Diego. Incidentally, the plankton also reacts to movements in the water. So you can easily make it glow with your hand, which looks really impressive!
4. Glass Beach, California
Trash on the beach is an absolute no-go and pretty much the last thing you want to see on your trip. However, if you are traveling in California, you should make an exception for this. There is a beach here that actually consists of rubbish and that is precisely why it is totally unique. At Glass Beach in Fort Bragg in Northern California you look in vain for sand and instead find red, green and white stones made of glass. These come from a landfill that was here a few decades ago. After careful clean-up work by the locals and the natural violence of the water, the perfectly cut glass stones are the only thing that still reminds of the mountains of rubbish.
The glass stone balls are ground so smooth that you can easily walk barefoot over the former shards. One thing is absolutely impossible: take stones with you! Since this unusual beach should be preserved for as long as possible, it is officially forbidden to pack the glass balls in your backpack.
5. Praia de Benagil, Portugal
The Portuguese Algarve is a real paradise for your next beach adventure. Here one great surf spot follows the next and in between you will find many impressive cliffs and coastal stretches that are perfect for a great hike. The absolute highlight, however, is Praia de Benagil: a sea cave in which a really cool sandy beach is hidden. The best way to get to the small grotto is with the Kaiak from the beach in Benagil or you can swim about 100 meters to the cave entrance. No matter which variant you choose: Once you arrive, you won't want to leave anytime soon!
Next to the two entrances to the sea there is a large hole in the ceiling of the cave through which the sun shines and the entire grotto is bathed in a totally unreal light. Especially at sunset the atmosphere is awesome! Before your trip to Praia de Benagil, you should definitely take a close look at the tide table. The cave is only accessible at low tide and especially if you are swimming, you should make your way back before the tide starts. Due to the currents that arise at high tide, it is not that easy to leave the cave without a boat. With a little planning, Praia de Benagil is definitely one of the coolest places on the Algarve coast in Portugal!
6. Pink Beach, Indonesia
Indonesia is certainly no longer an insider tip when it comes to adventure - on the contrary: Meanwhile, an infinite number of backpackers are drawn to the islands, where you are expected with an ingenious variety of chilled vibes, exciting landscapes and a very specific mentality. The best, however, are the many undiscovered corners that you can still find in Indonesia despite the hype.
One of them is definitely Pink Beach on Komodo. Depending on the time of day and the sunshine, the sand here sometimes glows really pink, which is due to the fact that the normal white grains of sand mix with red coral sand. There is no infrastructure around Pink Beach and you can only reach the beach by boat from the water. A few tours are offered daily from Flores, but all of them only bring a handful of travelers to Komodo. That means: you almost always have the pink beach to yourself! In addition to the color, the underwater world is a real highlight here. Pack your snorkeling equipment and go on a discovery tour of the coral reef below the surface of the water - unbelievably great!
7. Hyams Beach, Australia
That white is not always white will become clear to you at the latest at Hyams Beach in southeast Australia. The officially whitest sandy beach in the world awaits you here - it's even in the Guinness Book of Records. The reason for the brilliant white that really dazzles you when you are out and about without sunglasses is the fine quartz sand that the beach is almost exclusively made of.
The fine grains of sand have been bleached by the surf for over 15,000 years and in contrast to the stark blue of the waves and the lush green of the jungle, Hyams Beach looks a whole lot lighter! However, you can do more here than just chill in the soft sand: the beach in Jervis Bay is perfect for plunging into the waves with your surfboard or exploring the underwater world with fins and diving goggles.
8. Vík Beach, Iceland
In addition to dazzling white, green and pink beaches, there are also some deep black sandy beaches in the world. Since a volcano is always responsible for this dramatic effect, it is no wonder that you see a lot of black sand, especially on the Icelandic coast. Vík Beach is not only the southernmost beach in Iceland, but also one of the most unusual and spectacular beaches in the world!
From the small village of Vík í Mýrdal on the ring road, you make your way to the nearby coast on foot. You can already see the black sand from afar, which here is totally smooth and gentle and extends to the sea, creating a stark contrast to the steep green cliffs. A bizarre rock formation can also be seen on the horizon off the coast. The so-called Reynisdrangar are basalt columns - according to Icelandic popular belief, however, they are petrified trolls. In addition to the black sand and stone trolls protruding from the water, the quirky basalt formations on the cliffs, which are somewhat reminiscent of the Giant's Causeway in Ireland, are an impressive sight. Especially when the sky is cloudy, the sun is setting and light fog forms, you are sure to have goosebumps in the black sand of Vík!
9. Hidden Beach, Mexico
At Hidden Beach in Mexico, the name says it all: To get to the beach on the uninhabited Islas Marietas, you first have to swim through a 24 meter long tunnel or take a kayak. No matter how you get to the hidden beach, you should always have an experienced and licensed guide by your side. Because this adventure is not without danger because of the fluctuating water level and the islands are also under nature protection.
At first it sounds like a lot of effort to lay you on the beach, but it's definitely worth it! At the end of the tunnel, a deserted sandy beach awaits you in the middle of a huge crater that is said to have formed during a bomb experiment. In plain language: You are practically completely alone on an underground beach with daylight!
10. Playa As Catedrais, Spain
To unwind on a really unique beach, you don't have to fly halfway around the world. A short road trip to the north of Spain is enough! Near the small fishing village of Rinlo you will find Playa As Catedrais, where you will really become aware of the tremendous forces of the Atlantic. The sea has dug itself incredibly deep into the rugged cliffs, creating imposing caves and pinnacles that dot the entire beach.
You walk from one rocky cave to the next and in between there are always huge archways waiting for you, reminiscent of an oversized cathedral. Before you set off for this beach, you should definitely check the tide calendar. At high tide you can't see anything from the beach and even at low tide the sea water gathers between the sandbanks.
The impressive rock formations on the small beach are of course no longer an insider tip - on the contrary: in the past up to 20,000 people gathered here every day. Not only was it pretty tight, it was really uncool for the surrounding nature. Therefore, between July and September you can only go to Playa As Catedrais with a free ticket. So in summer you have to plan ahead, but you don't have to share the beach with thousands of people!
11. Koekohe Beach, New Zealand
New Zealand is the ultimate adventure land and especially the South Island is awesome! Whether you hike for several days through breathtaking and totally untouched landscapes, satisfy your adrenaline addiction while skydiving and rafting or get goose bumps swimming with wild dolphins, adventure is redefined on the South Island of New Zealand!
This of course also applies to the beaches and Koekohe Beach south of Oamaro you should definitely not miss out on. When the tide is high, the sandy beach looks like any other. As soon as the water recedes, however, the Moeraki Boulders appear: These are huge boulders weighing tons that look like bowling balls with their smooth surface and round shape. If you want to marvel at the rock formations, which are around 65 million years old, you should come to the beach early in the morning or in the evening. Then you will not only meet fewer people, you will also experience the great atmosphere at sunrise or sunset!
12. Cow Beach, India
It is no longer a secret that cows are sacred in India and that you can meet animals almost everywhere. However, you may be new to the fact that you may even have to share your towel with a cow on the beach. In Goa, the sacred animals have actually chosen a super beautiful sandy beach to be their favorite place and that is a totally crazy sight, especially for us Europeans!
Shortly after sunrise, the cows are drawn to Cow Beach. The whole day they lie in the sand and chill, before looking for a place to sleep under the trees inland in the evening. If you are out and about in Goa, you can not only take a few cool pictures, but you can also sit between the cows without any problems, which are usually completely unimpressed by visitors.
13. Thunder Cove, Canada
Getting really off the path is not really difficult in a country like Canada. An incredible number of adventures await you here in totally unreal places, where you feel very far away from the world and your everyday life. One of these places is Thunder Cove on Prince Edward Island off the east coast of Canada. Not only is the sand in the small bay glowing rust-red from afar, but also the many pinnacles, cliffs and sandstone formations.
If you stand here with your back to the sea and let your gaze wander over Thunder Cove, for a moment you will certainly have the feeling that you are no longer in Canada, but somewhere on Mars or in the middle of the desert in Arizona! Since sandstone is not really stable, you should avoid climbing on the rocks - you better get into your kayak to see the unusual stretch of coast from the water. It is also worth making a detour to Teacup Rock, a bizarre red rock just off the coast. Especially in the morning, shortly after sunrise, a brilliant picture awaits you here with the calm sea and the golden light!
14. Black Sand Beach, Antarctica
When you're preparing for a trip to Antarctica, swimming gear is definitely not the top priority on your packing list. However, if you make a stop in Whalers Bay on Deception Island, your swimming trunks definitely belong in your backpack! The volcanic sand at Black Sand Beach is not only deep black in color, it is also totally warm. In some places it even steams and is so hot that you will burn your feet while walking barefoot.
The temperature of the sand alone warms the arctic ocean so much that it is still super cold, but you can still stand it for a short time - even without a wetsuit. You can't swim far out anyway, because depending on what time of year you come to Whalers Bay, huge ice floes block your way off the coast! Even if the ruins of the former whaling station still stand on Deception Island, the island, like the rest of the continent, is uninhabited. You only have to share the black sand beach with your fellow travelers and a few penguins.
15. Carate Beach, Costa Rica
Costa Rica is high on the bucket list of many travel-hungry adventurers, and not without reason! The many rainforests with their lonely paths, turquoise-blue rivers and partially active volcanoes are a unique adventure playground. The Osa Peninsula, which is the wildest corner of Costa Rica with the Corcovado National Park, is particularly cool.
The park not only has an ingenious jungle in which you have a good chance of running into wild animals such as tapirs or jaguars, but also one of the most brilliant beaches in the world: Playa Carate! In a moment you are still in the deep jungle and a few meters further you are suddenly standing on an endless, deserted sandy beach. Here you can spend days without others joining your footprints in the sand!
16. Saksun Beach, Faroe Islands
As an adventure junkie, you may already be longing for the Faroe Islands. Images of bright green fields, small stone huts with grass roofs and waterfalls that plunge from the karst sea cliffs into the sea will surely pop into your head! When these images become reality and you set off on your trip to the archipelago, you shouldn't miss a place on the main island of Streymoy: Saksun!
From a distance you can see the few houses that stand over the bay and whose roofs are just as green as the rest of the landscape. Several footpaths lead from the village church to the lonely sandy beach, which lies between the high mountains on both sides like in a crater. Because of the dark color of the sand, the shades of green on the shore seem even more intense and together with the steep rocky slopes on which a few waterfalls meander down, you have the feeling of having arrived in a completely different world! Before you set off for the beach, it's best to ask the locals when the tide is out. After all, Saksun Beach is underwater most of the time and only when the sea recedes for about two hours a day can you hike along the sand.
17. Star Sand Beach in Hoshizuna-no-hama, Japan
The Okinawa Islands in Japan are clearly the country's beach paradise and since you can only reach them by plane, they are ideal for a multi-day detour during your trip to Japan. If you only have time for one of the islands, then your route should lead you to Iriomote Island! The island itself consists almost 100 percent of dense rainforest and since only a few people live here, you have the feeling of having the wilderness of the jungle completely to yourself.
One of the most bizarre beaches in the world awaits you on the north coast of the island: Star Sand Beach! As the name suggests, the grains of sand here are not round, but star-shaped. Strictly speaking, they are not grains of sand at all, but the washed-up shells of protozoa that live in the sea off the coast. If you want to take a handful of stars home with you, it's best to come to the beach after a storm, then you'll find loads of tiny star-shaped tanks. Be sure to pack your snorkeling equipment, because the coral reef at Star Sand Beach is almost as beautiful as the beach itself and also perfect for trying out snorkeling!
A beach is not just a beach!
Once your travels have taken you past some of the most beautiful sandy beaches in the world, you might get the impression that a beach is a beach! It consists of white sand, a few palm trees, a turquoise blue sea and is the perfect place to chill, surf, swim or dive - but the beach is also completely different!
You don't have to go far for that: A road trip to Spain to Playa As Catedrais or the black sand beach in Iceland's Vík is enough to convince you that a beach without palm trees and white sand can make you speechless . But even in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, in a cave in Mexico or between hundreds of cows in India, you will find unusual and totally crazy beaches that all have one thing in common: You will never forget how it felt when you saw the sand, felt the cut glass stones or the mussel shells under your feet for the first time!
Which of these extraordinary beaches are now on your bucket list? Or have you even been to an extraordinary beach that is still missing here?
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