9 of the World’s Most Colorful Beaches
White-sand beaches may be a dime a dozen, but red, purple, green, and black shores? Those are straight up geological oddities. From Hawaii to Iceland and Italy to Australia, these are the most colorful beaches in the world.
Pink Sands Beach, Harbour Island, the Bahamas
Bahama beach bums may be on the search for tropical cocktails and velvet white sands on which to sip them, but Harbour Island is celebrated for its three-mile expanse of pale pink, coral reef-protected shore. The beach borrows its color from itty-bitty, bright pink microorganisms known as foraminifera, and its sand is always delightfully cool to the touch, so you can walk barefoot without worrying about burning your toes.
Papakolea Beach, Hawaii
Situated near South Point—the southernmost section of Big Island, HI and the US as a whole—Papakolea Beach is a pretty uncommon sight. The super remote stretch of green sand is carved into the side of Puʻu Mahana—a 50,000-year-old erupted cinder cone which, thanks to erosion, has tinted the shore with olivine lava.
Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur, California
Pfeiffer’s subtle purple color is often hard to capture on film (and often way over-enhanced in online images), but with a bit of searching, visitors will stumble upon saturated stretches. The Big Sur beach sources its pigmentation from mineral deposits including quartz and garnet.
Kokkini Beach, Santorini, Greece
One look at the staggering volcanic rock face that harbors Kokkini Beach, and there’s no wondering why the spot is a favorite among Santorini’s adventurous locals and visitors. Once you’ve gotten your fill of the unmistakably red sand and are up for more exploration, the Minoan Bronze Age Akrotiri archaeological site is just a short ways up the coast.
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Hyams Beach, New South Wales, Australia
White sand beaches are far from uncommon, but Australia’s Hyams Beach has been deemed the brightest, whitest sand on earth—just consult your Guinness Book of World Records for proof.
Porto Ferro, Sardinia, Italy
If we learned anything in elementary school art classes, it’s that complementary colors are all the rage. While we were once skeptical about combining orange and blue, Sardinia’s Porto Ferro is living proof that the colors are a model pair. The beach’s in-your-face sand (a fusion of orange limestone, finely-crushed shells, and volcanic deposits) slopes into turquoise tinted waters in a postcard-perfect manner.
Cavendish Beach, Prince Edward Island, Canada
Take a second to understand Prince Edward Island’s makeup—it’s mostly formed from sedimentary red sandstone— and it’s clear why the Canadian province harbors such a wealth of rusty, iron-rich shores.
Ramla Bay Beach, Gozo, Malta
Ramla Bay’s fiery orange sands aren’t it’s only siren call. Legend has it that the iron-rich beach was also the spot where—in Homer’s The Odyssey— the goddess Calypso held a shipwrecked Odysseus captive.
Reynisfjara Beach, Iceland
On the southern coast of Iceland, not far from the village of Vik, Reynisfjara’s landscape rings true to Iceland’s nickname— the “Land of Fire and Ice.” Hexagonal basalt columns, black lava formations, and rugged cliff and cave formations rise out of the beach’s jet black shore.
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