The World’s Most Colorful Beaches
Horseshoe Bay, Bermuda
It’s no surprise this blushing beach on the southern coast of Bermuda is one of its most popular. (A mix of crushed shells, coral, and calcium carbonate create the sand’s delicate pink color.) While the water looks inviting, you may want to keep your toes on the rosy shore (the area is known for a sometimes-dangerous undertow). But there is a lifeguard on duty from May to September.
Porto Ferro, Sardinia, Italy
This stretch on the island’s northern corner boasts ochre-colored sand — a mix of orange limestone, crushed shells, and volcanic deposits. If you’re into scoping out the gorgeous view from above — the orange contrasts beautifully with the crystal-blue water — venture up into the 65-foot high sand dunes behind the beach for an ideal view.
Papakolea (Green Sand Beach), Hawaii, Hawaii
Nestled near the southernmost point on the Big Island (and the southernmost point in the United States), this beach has deep green sand courtesy of the olivine, a mineral that was deposited on the shores by a nearby volcanic cone. Getting down to the water is an adventure — visitors must hike about three miles along the bordering sea cliffs — but strolling along the vibrant sand is the ideal reward.
Vik Beach, Iceland
Known to the locals as Reynisfjara, Vik is the island’s most famous black sand beach. The sand’s stark black hues are the result of lava (from the nearby Katla Volcano) that flowed into the sea, hardened, and split into tiny fragments that washed ashore. The gorgeous coastline also boasts caves, cliffs, and dramatic basalt columns.
Kaihalulu Bay (Red Sand Beach), Maui, Hawaii
Tucked into Maui’s southeastern coastline just south of Hana, this secluded spot’s red sand is the result of erosion from nearby Ka’uiki Head cinder cone. The beach is a bit off-the-beaten-path — to get to the turquoise water, you must venture down a steep trail — but the gorgeous view makes the trip worth it. The cove is also a favorite haunt for nude sunbathers.
Ramla Bay, Gozo, Malta
This beautiful Mediterranean beach on the Maltese island of Gozo gets its vivid orange sand from high iron content. After basking in the inlet’s dreamy glow, you can explore Roman ruins in the nearby Calypso Cave, which is rumored to be the same one mentioned in Homer’s The Odyssey (where the nymph Calypso kept Odysseus as a “prisoner of love” for seven years).
Punalu’u (Black Sand Beach), Hawaii, Hawaii
The jet-black sand at this southern Big Island beach formed when molten lava from two nearby active volcanoes (Mauna Loa and Kilauea) flowed into the water, cooled, and broke into fragments that washed ashore. The spot is also famous for being frequented by two endangered turtle species, the green turtle and the hawksbill turtle. While you're not allowed to touch these gorgeous guys, you can snap Instagram pics to your heart's content.
Pink Sands Beach, Harbour Island, Bahamas
Pink Sands stretches for about three miles on the Atlantic coast of this alluring island. The sand gets its gorgeous pastel hues from the red shells of microscopic creatures (called foraminifera) mixed with bits of white coral. Swimming is safe and easy, as the area is is sheltered by an outlying coral reef.
Muriwai Beach, Aukland, New Zealand
While there are a number of spectacular black beaches in the world, how many also sparkle? Muriwai’s stunning black sand comes from a mix of materials (including iron and titanium) from the area’s ancient volcanoes. The sprawling beach, which spans 37 miles on the west coast of the Auckland region, is also home to New Zealand's largest colony of Gannet birds.
Red Sands Shore, Prince Edward Island, Canada
Nearly half of Prince Edward Island’s 500 miles of coastline features red (translation: rich in iron oxide) sand. The island’s southern shore is particularly blessed in this department — it’s even nicknamed for red sand! No matter what you’re in the mood to do — bask in the sun, dig for clams — the shore’s rich, rust-colored tones provide a gorgeous backdrop.
Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur, California
Part of the Los Padres National Forest, Pfeiffer beach’s sand contains swirls of violet and dark purple from manganese garnet crystals that have washed down from the surrounding rocks. With its rare coloration and the stunning keyhole rock formation right offshore, the spot is a must-see.
Hyams Beach, New South Wales, Australia
Sometimes a little lack of color can go a long way — and this is definitely true with Hyams Beach, which holds the Guinness World Record for the whitest sand in the world. Nearby activities include walking trails, and snorkeling, sailing, and surfing on the shores of Jervis Bay.