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The white-sand beach, long romanticized in travel ads and office daydreams, isn’t the only color to crave. Sink your toes into a black-sand beach. Or pink. Or purple. Or green. Our world is home to a rainbow of beaches. Below are some favorites.

RELATED: The world’s best beaches via cruise ship


Kokkini Ammos | Flickr CC:

Kokkini Ammos | Flickr CC: Kevin Poh

Kokkini Ammos
Santorini, Greece

The island of Santorini is known for its white-domed churches and azure skies, which makes this fire-red beach such a beautiful contrast. Dramatic red lava cliffs loom large over the Aegean sea, hugging this small (clothing optional) beach made up of tiny red pebbles, the result of the iron-rich volcanic rock found in the area. You can descend to this beach on foot (a 10-minutewalk) ortake a boat leaving from Akrotiri Beach.

Kaihalulu Beach, Hawaii

Kaihalulu Beach, Hawaii

Kaihalulu Beach
Maui, Hawaii

South of Hana Bay resides one of Maui’s hidden gems; and like so many hidden gems, it isn’t easy to reach. (But that also keeps crowds away!) You’ll need to cross private property (get permission first) and then slowly traverse down a cliffside trail. The destination is worth the effort, however: An isolated beach of lava-red sand awaits.

Ramla Bay, Malta

Ramla Bay, Malta

Ramla Bay
Island of Gozo, Malta

Considered the most beautiful beach in Malta, this stunning setting delivers vivid orange sand contrasted against the blue waters of the Mediterranean. For panoramic views, hike or drive up to Calypso Cave, which is rumored to be the same one mentioned in Homer’s The Odyssey—where the nymph Calypso kept Odysseus as her “love slave” for several years.

Porto Ferro Beach

Porto Ferro Beach

Porto Ferro Beach
Sardinia, Italy

Stretching for more than a mile, the yellow-orange sand of Porto Ferro comes from a mix of orange limestone, crushed shells and volcanic deposits. Sand dunes perched behind the beach offer spectacular views of the beach activities and surfers in the Mediterranean.

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Horseshoe Bay, Bermuda

Horseshoe Bay, Bermuda

Horseshoe Bay Beach
Southampton, Bermuda

The soft sand at Horseshoe Bay is perfect for barefoot strolls. The reason for the pastel color is a red marine organism that grows under the coral surrounding the island. When it dies, its pink shell mixeswith the white sand to give it a pinkish hue.


Papakōlea Beach | Flickr CC: Thomas

Papakōlea Beach
Big Island, Hawaii

One of only four green beaches in the world, this secluded and sandy sanctuary is popular with intrepid travelers ready for a two-mile hike and steep climb down to the sandy shores. (Yes, it’s only accessible by foot.) Papakolea’s named for the presence of a greenish, semi-precious stone called olivine, which stays deposited on the beach because it’s heavier than other, lighter parts of the lava that once sprang from the nearby Pu’u o Mahana cinder cone.


Pfeiffer Beach | Photo courtesy of @shuleiweng

Pfeiffer Beach
Big Sur, California

Dazzling patches of violet-colored sand make this beach in Big Sur worth seeking out—especially right after a rain shower. The sand’s color is due to quartz and manganese garnet deposits from nearby hills that washed down to create the purple hues.


Rockaway Beach | Flickr CC: John Menard

Rockaway Beach
Pacifica, California

The sand at this beach resembles chocolate—in color, not taste. This sleepy Pacifica hideaway on the Northern California coast is located a few miles from San Francisco and attracts daytrippers, surfers and local fishermen.

Harbour Island, Bahamas

Harbour Island, Bahamas

Harbour Island
The Bahamas

So pretty in pink. The pale pink sands of Harbour Island stretch on for three gorgeous miles, and the water is calm for swimming and snorkeling, thanks to outlying reefs.

Kodiak Alaska Beach

Kodiak Alaska Beach

Beaches of the Ocean Cape Area
Gulf of Alaska, Alaska

The coastline of the Gulf of Alaska boasts a beautiful slate-gray beach that stretches for miles and miles. Framed by the Tongass National Forest, the shore gets its color from strong waves churning rocky waters, which gifts the coastline with its metallic glow.

Porto Cove Beach, Portugal

Porto Cove Beach, Portugal

Porto Covo Beach

Two hours south of Lisbon, this former fishing village boasts a beautiful burnt-orange beach and waters ideal for surfing. You’ll find volleyball here, too.

RELATED: World’s best beaches for adventure seekers

Muriwai Beach

Muriwai Beach, New Zealand

Muriwai Beach
New Zealand

This dramatic stretch of black volcanic sand is popular with surfers who come to ride the waves of Auckland’s wild west coast. It’s also perfect for long strolls with friends, significant others or dogs. The cliff-top trails that hug the rugged coastline are home to a colony of gannet birds, who are in residence (and safely viewable) from August to March.


Punalum’u Black Sand Beach, Hawaii

Punalu’u Black Sand Beach

At the southern tip of Hawaii’s Big Island, the jet-black sand of this beach comes courtesy of two nearby active volcanoes. The beach is also home to two endangered turtle species: the green turtle and the hawksbill turtle. Avoid the temptation to touch these creatures; photos, taken carefully, are just fine.



Vik Beach | Photo courtesy of Aaron Toth

Vík Beach

Vik Beach‘s setting is otherworldly, with its expansive black beach hugging a coastline speckled with large basalt columns, cliffs and caves. Many on an Iceland road trip stop here for strolls and picnics, or to hike to the Sólheimasandur plane wreck, which still resides on the dark black beach. The black hue is the result of lava from a nearby volcano that flowed into the sea, hardened and then broke into tiny bits that washed ashore.


Rainbow beach | Flickr CC: texaus1

Rainbow Beach  
Queensland, Australia

It’s been suggested that as many as 72 different colors can be spotted in the sand at Rainbow Beach. The colorful sand comes from the multi-colored cliffs just north of Double Island Point. Roam the sand dunes framing this stunning coast and spend the day counting the colors for yourself. 

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Erica Bray

Erica Bray

Erica is a practical free spirit who loves travel, yoga and ice cream. A Northwestern University-trained journalist with more than 15 years of experience straddling digital and broadcast media, Erica can be found doing handstands everywhere she travels -- even risking arrest in some cases. Learn about her at

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