Black Sand Beaches Around the World

When we think of beaches, we typically envision stretches of golden sand. However, black sand beaches can be found in various corners of the world. Formed by volcanic activity, black sand beaches have an other-worldly charm, with their darkened grains contrasting against the vivid blue hues of the ocean. The black sand adds an element of intrigue to the beach atmosphere.

  • Punalu'u Beach, Hawaii, USA

    Punalu'u Beach, Hawaii, USA

    Punalu'u Beach is located on the southeastern coast of the Big Island, the largest of the Hawai’ian Islands. Like most other black sand beaches, the sand is made of tiny fragments of volcanic rock. While being a fantastic beach of beauty in contrasts, it is also home to green sea turtles (honu) swimming and lounging about (though contact should be avoided, as they are protected). Currents can be quite strong along parts of this beach, so the traveler should take note of signs before swimming. Surrounded by lush green, this black sand beach has a rare, contrasting beauty.

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  • Reynisfjara Beach, Iceland

    Reynisfjara Beach, Iceland

    Reynisfjara Beach is not your normal black sand beach of volcanic rock. The majesty of this coast on the southern side of Iceland is accentuated by basalt sea stacks rising from the waters and black sand. Then there’s nearby Hálsanefshellir, a magnificent cave full of local birdlife to observe in a natural habitat. Reynisfjara Beach is the perfect place to soak in the minimal and striking aesthetic of Iceland.

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  • Kamari Beach, Santorini, Greece

    Kamari Beach, Santorini, Greece

    This black sand beach is for resort travelers, with chairs and palm umbrellas for relaxing. Kamari Beach is about 3 miles of beach with a promenade running along its length. The promenade features beach bars, cafes, local cuisine, and shopping for varied travelers. The contrast of black volcanic sand with the blue waters of the Aegean Sea creates a unique sight.

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  • Waianapanapa State Park, Maui, Hawaii, USA

    Waianapanapa State Park, Maui, Hawaii, USA

    The Hawai’ian name of Waianapanapa translates to “glistening waters.” This is fitting for the water around the aptly named Black Sand Beach (Pa’iloa Beach). Highlights of this shoreline are ancient lava tubes, lush tropical vegetation, and, of course, the volcanic rock sand. This beach, and state park, is believed by local folklore to be the place where the legendary Princess Popoalaea sought refuge from a troubled relationship.

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  • Perissa Beach, Santorini, Greece

    Perissa Beach, Santorini, Greece

    On the southeast coast of Greece’s Santorini is Perissa Beach. This black sand beach has nightlife with clubs, cafes, and restaurants for travelers. There are also water activities such as jet skiing, windsurfing, paddleboarding, or an adventurous ride in a banana boat. Nearby archaeological sites add to the allure of Perissa Beach, the most notable being Ancient Thera, which overlooks the beach on a hill.

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  • Black Sands Beach, California, USA

    Black Sands Beach, California, USA

    Secluded off the beaten path is one of the few black sand beaches in the continental US, Black Sands Beach outside of Shelter Cove, CA. Surrounded by cliffs, the coastal views offered are spectacular. Yet, it is secluded for a reason. The traveler must hike a bit to get to the area, including packing water and food.

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  • Vik Beach, Iceland

    Vik Beach, Iceland

    The small village of Vik is a picturesque addition to the already stunning views of the Icelandic coasts. Nearby attractions to the beach include the basalt sea stacks of Reynisfjara, waterfalls, mountains, and glaciers. About 100 miles from Reykjavik, this area can be accessed easily.

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  • Playa Jardín, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

    Playa Jardín, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

    Translating to “Garden Beach,” Playa Jardín is on the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands. This volcanic area’s black sand is surrounded by tropical gardens. Perfectly curated gardens of flowers add a colorful atmosphere, while palm trees and other lush plants surround the black sand.

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  • Muriwai Beach, New Zealand

    Muriwai Beach, New Zealand

    Sitting on the western coast of Auckland, New Zealand is Muriwai Beach. Known for its wild coastline, the volcanic black sand beach stretches almost 31 miles. Trails for walking and hiking are available to truly experience the area’s beauty, while also offering adventures such as horseback riding and surfing.

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