diamond beach black sand color

Soak in the beauty at Diamond Beach. (Photo: Andrew Steel / 500px)

Beach Travel

No Glow-Up Needed: 7 Colored-Sand Beaches Ready for the ‘Gram

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

pfeiffer beach sand color
Shine a light on the sand color at Pfeiffer Beach. (Photo: Chris Axe / Moment)

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

Papakōlea beach green sand color
Look out for the green sand beach at Papakōlea. (Photo: Damien VERRIER / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

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

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A vivid orange beach awaits in Malta. (Photo: Petroos /iStock / Getty Images Plus)

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).