No Glow-Up Needed: 7 Colored-Sand Beaches Ready for the ‘GramBy Samantha Garbarini
White sand beaches are a dime a dozen, but rare stretches of green, red and black shoreline? That’s worth a coveted spot on your Instagram feed. From Iceland to Hawaii, these seven beaches come in a rainbow of stunning colors.
Black Sand: Diamond Beach, Jokulsarlon, Iceland
You’ll need boots, not a bikini, to visit the otherworldly beaches in Iceland, Europe’s favorite adventure destination. Reynisfjara, on the island’s southern coast, is arguably the country’s most famous black-sand beach (recognize it from “Game of Thrones”?).
But Diamond Beach is the most impressive, thanks to the massive, boulder-sized chunks of ice that break off from the nearby glacier, float ashore and sparkle like gemstones on the intensely inky volcanic sand.
Violet Sand: Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur, California
Deposits of quartz and manganese garnet that erode and wash down from the surrounding rocks cause violet striations on the sand at this (not so well-kept) secret beach along the California coast. Visit after a storm to see the purple at its most vibrant.
The beach’s main landmark, Keyhole Rock, is particular fodder for the ‘Gram for a few weeks each winter when the sunset aligns with the opening in the rock, creating a rare photo op.
Chocolate-Brown Sand: Rockaway Beach, Pacifica, California
Rich, chocolate-brown sand is the trademark of this Northern California beach, not far from San Francisco.
Easy access from Highway 1 and a scenic outlook make Rockaway a popular stop for tourists, but it’s also big with advanced surfers who seek out this strip of coast for its strong rips and big swells.
Green Sand: Papakōlea Beach, the Big Island, Hawaii
The rarest of the Hawaiian islands’ rainbow of colored-sand beaches (red Kaihalulu Beach on Maui, black Punaluu Beach on the Big Island, and yellow-orange Papohaku Beach on Molokai), Papakōlea Beach is one of only four green-sand beaches in the world.
This hidden gem is accessible only by foot, and getting there is a commitment — it’s a vigorous two-mile trek and steep descent down to the shore, so exercise caution if you go — but the mossy-colored sand, made of semiprecious olivine, is worth it.
Pink Sand: Pink Sands Beach, Harbour Island, Bahamas
Dreamy, blush-colored, satiny sand; a perfect Caribbean climate; and gentle turquoise waves equal “I’m never going back to real life” vacation vibes. When you’ve had enough of the cotton-candy-hued sand, the water is gentle enough for swimming and snorkeling, courtesy of the outlying reefs.
Orange Sand: Ramla Bay, Gozo, Malta
Its full Maltese name, Ramla il-Hamra, means “red sands,” but this popular beach on the island of Gozo is actually a vivid, sunny orange (thanks to the high iron concentration).
A day of sunbathing along the Mediterranean isn’t Ramla Bay’s only attraction: Nearby are Roman ruins, an 18th-century Knights of Malta fortress and Calypso Cave, rumored to be the same one Homer wrote about in “The Odyssey.”
Red Sand: Kokkini Beach, Santorini, Greece
Famous for its whitewashed buildings, blue domes and stunning sunsets over its volcanic caldera, Santorini has no shortage of destination-worthy beaches.
But perhaps its most photogenic shore is Kokkini, a 10-minute walk from the archaeological site at Akrotiri and often dubbed “Red Beach” thanks to the rust-colored volcanic cliffs and sand. The striped umbrellas and small canteens dotting the beach make it easy to while away a day along the Aegean (clothing optional).