Tag - black beaches

Black Sand Beaches

icelandic black beach

The contrast between the white foam of lapping waves on a black sand beach is something special. It’s almost as if the world has turned into an old black and white movie. The spectacle is slightly gloomy, but in a fascinating and mystical way.

Why are some Beaches Black?

If you pick up a handful of sand, you will usually see a multitude of colors. Even sand that appears white can have both green, dark, pink, and orange grains amongst it. Black sand will most likely have a high concentration of black grains from either volcanic minerals or heavy minerals such as garnet, magnetite, and epidote. Black sand beaches are particularly common in areas near volcanoes such as Hawaii, Iceland, and the Canary Islands.

If you go to a black sand beach, be aware that the sand gets extra hot on sunny days, as the black color absorbs the heat.

Gallery of Black Sand Beaches

We hope you will enjoy this gallery of black sand beaches from around the world. We have included images from Iceland, the Canary Islands, Bali, Hawaii, and New Zealand.

Black sand beaches are not as common as those with white or light brown sand. You will not get the stunning turquoise and clear blue water from these beaches, and conditions for activities such as snorkeling and diving will be less optimum because of lower visibility. Instead, however, you often get a more rugged and dramatic setting with contrasting white foamy water on beautiful dark sand.

The images in this collage of black sand beaches have been provided by and the following contributors (in no particular order): Naveen Raj Dhanapal (cover photo), Artem Bali,  Alice Karolina Smith,  Florian ZehJeremy BishopIan Stauffer, and Adrien Olichon provided by Unsplash, and Nikitabuida provided by Freepik.

The Sand Color of Our Beaches

Black sand color on a beach due to volcanic sediments and white foamy water at the shore

Sand Color is Important

Take a moment and imagine your dream beach. How does it look? If you need help, try to search for ‘stunning beach’ on google images and see which photos wow you.

If you imagine your dream beach to have silky smooth and light colored sand, you are not alone. As our recent beach survey supported, sand color and quality is important to the beach experience.

Not only does a white sand beach look good in itself, it also makes the sea water appear more clear and blue as explained in Why Tropical Waters Are So Damned Blue by Perceptive Travel. The inviting turquoise water derives from the composition of algae in the water, often present in tropical areas.

The Beachmeter Sand Color Spectrum

Sand color spectrum from showing common sand colors of beaches.When we inspect and describe beaches, we want to make sure that we have standardized measures to characterize them. What one person would describe as golden sand, another may describe as white or light brown. That is why we have developed the Beachmeter Sand Color Spectrum.

By applying this spectrum, you will know what we mean, when we describe a beach as having white, golden, light brown or pink colored sand. You are of course more than welcome to print out the sand color spectrum and try it on your own local beach.

What Determines Sand Color?

What might appear to be a brown, pink or green beach, will look different under a microscope. The sand grains often have a palette of different colors and shapes. Most sand on beaches is composed of gray or tan quartz and feldspar. Quartz is a light-colored mineral, so your white sand beach will most likely have a lot of quartz in it. Darker sand comes from a number of minerals that are often denser and heavier than tan and quartz. A common mineral giving the beach a dark color is Magnetite. You may also be familiar with black-sanded beaches derived from volcanic sediments such as the beach seen in the cover image.

Here are some different close-ups of sand grains from different beaches. The closer you inspect the sand grains, the more colors you will find. However, from afar these beaches have a more uniform color. has a great overview of different sand colors including details about their mineral compositions. For example, you can learn why there are pink beaches, red beaches, and even green beaches along with the more common spectrum of sand colors.