I grew up thinking that sand only came in one color. The sand of sand paper. The sand of tract housing garage doors. The sand of doctor’s office waiting rooms. Every beach I’d ever been to featured sand the color of paint swatch “sand,” and it wasn’t until I started thumbing through island guide books and devouring beach-heavy Flickr feeds that I realized the sand of SoCal’s golden beaches wasn’t the only sand out there.
Pink sand might sound like a fisherman’s tale, but it beautifies many of Bermuda’s best beaches. This blush-colored stuff comes from the island’s red coral reefs which, nibbled at by parrotfish, eventually break down and add their color to the local sands. Look for it at beaches like Horseshoe Bay Beach, Jobson’s Cove, Tobacco Bay Beach, Elbow Beach and John Smith’s Bay. Outside of Bermuda, the Bahamas’ Harbour Island and Greece’s Balos Lagoon offer their own pastel shores.
Most black sand beaches owe their creation to volcanoes. As molten lava hits the ocean, it sometimes cools so rapidly that it explodes into tiny black fragments and ends up coloring local beaches. Some of Hawaii’s most famous black-sand beaches are Punaluu Black Sand Beach, Polulu Valley Beach, Kaimu Beach and Waianapanapa Black Sand Beach. But dramatic, dark sand isn’t an Aloha exclusive; California, Alaska, and even Iceland boast black-sand shores of their own.
Probably the most rare of the lot, green-sand beaches owe their hue to the accumulation of olivine crystals: the same mineral that makes peridot gems. The largest green beach in the U.S., Papakolea Beach, lies near South Point on Hawaii’s Big Island. Guam’s Talofofo Beach features olivine-rich sand as well.
Ever visited a pink Bermuda beach? Dug your toes into Hawaii’s volcanic sands? Tell us about your favorite beach experience!