Bored of traditional seaside resorts? Why not try a black sand beach? If your dream vacation is to be somewhere warm, laying in the sun, and listening to the ocean vibes, then you should pick a different beach this year, something more original. There are beautiful beaches with black sand all over the world. The only thing left to do is to pick your favorite destination.
What Is a Black Sand Beach?
Lately, people want original travel destinations. White and gold sand beaches are very common. Therefore, more tourists look for black sand beach dreamlands. These places are interesting for many travelers due to their exotic sand hues.
A black sand beach has this color due to the sand’s composing elements. There are two types of black sand beaches. On one hand, there are places in which the sand has heavy magnetic smooth rock particles. These sands are usually made of an accumulation of particles and minerals, called a placer deposit.
There are also black sand beaches made of volcano fragments, such as basalt. However, small deposits of black sand can be found even on normal white beaches, due to water currents and bigger waves. These can carry heavier minerals and leave them in other places, especially after a storm.
Usually, a black sand beach contains valuable elements, such as zirconium, thorium, and other rare particles. In some black sand locations, people mine the land, searching for specific gemstones, like ruby, topaz, sapphire, and even diamond. However, all these can be found in the sand of the beaches created by a placer deposit.
Basalt black sand beaches are created when the flowing lava meets the cool ocean water. During this process, the lava turns into dark-colored debris, some of which is so small it is seen as sand or sand-related. A black sand beach can appear overnight if a great amount of hot lava reaches the coastline and mixes with the ocean. Because these places are not as common as white sand beaches, in some states, such as Hawaii, it is illegal to take or move the black sand from the place in which it is found.
An interesting and useful tip is you should not walk barefoot on these beaches for a long period. Being dark colored, this sand absorbs more solar radiation, and it can burn your skin.
Where Can You Find a Black Sand Beach?
You can find a beautiful black sand beach in many places on Earth. All these beaches are spectacular due to the powerful contrast between the black sands and the light blue shades of the sea. You can look down and imagine you are spending your holiday on another planet.
- In Europe, you can find a black sand beach in several countries, such as Greece, Portugal, and Spain. Santorini is a great destination, when you want to have fun and relax, while looking at black sand beaches.
- Iceland also offers black sand beaches, such as Vík í Mýrdal. This is also a small village in the southern part of the island. The beach is small, and it results from the local volcano, named Katla. It hasn’t erupted since 1918. This long period of rest has worried people. They are concerned it might erupt sometime soon.
- Mexico and Central America are places rich in black sand beaches. Countries, like Costa Rica and Panama, offer tourists quite a few interesting and exotic coastlines, where tourists can create wonderful lifetime memories.
- South Pacific countries, such as Tahiti and New Zealand, also have great black sand beaches for those of you looking for more original vacation destinations.
- Within the United States, you can find out-of-the-ordinary beaches in states like Alaska, California, and Hawaii.
- By far, some places that are rich in black sand beaches are the Caribbean. Here, you can find these special beaches in many places, like Jamaica, the Grenadines, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and more.
The Most Popular and Beautiful Black Sand Beach Destinations
Black Sand Beach Maui Locations
- Wai’anapanapa. This black sand Maui beach is the host of the State Park with the same name. It is a 120-acre reservation that includes this beautiful beach. It has black lava cliffs on one side and a splendid ocean view on the other side. Here, you can find a luxuriant exotic flora. This black sand beach was created by the flowing lava, hundreds of years ago. You can even camp near the beach in the Wai’anapanapa State Park. However, be careful when you enter the ocean. Swimming is allowed only when the water is calm.
- Oneuli. This is a paradise beach, far from any crowded tourists’ area. It has a wild natural beauty, perfect for panoramic photography. The southern part of the beach is delimited by red cliff walls. On the other end of the beach, you can find a few small secluded beaches, where you can enjoy moments of total silence and relaxation. These kinds of places are perfect for when you want to create a romantic atmosphere with a loved one. You can do snorkeling in these waters. However, be careful if you walk barefoot. There are places where you might get stung by Kiawe tree horns.
Other beautiful examples of black sand beaches in Hawaii are Kehena Beach and Punalu’u Beach.
- Kehena. In Hawaii, you can find some of the most popular black sand beaches in the world. Millions of tourists visit these locations every year. Kehena is on the Big Island, in Puna district. A great advantage of this location is it has only fine sand, without other elements, such as rocks or debris. Its local name became “Dolphin Beach” due to the many dolphin appearances along the offshore. The beach was created in 1955 by the flowing lava. You can find lots of coconut palm trees.
- Punalu’u. This black sand beach is also on the Big Island. Its out-of-the-ordinary sand is made of basalt. Here, you can often see green turtles, which are an endangered species. Pay attention during your swimming, because some parts of the beach are rocky and might be dangerous for the newbies. An interesting fact of Punaluu black sand beach is that, under the surface waters, there are large amounts of fresh water. It is interesting to watch how the salt water mixes with the fresh water.
Black Sand Beach California
Although this place is not as exotic and tropical as those described above, it has other advantages and benefits to offer. If you visit it, you will enjoy great moments of relaxation and quiet. This beach is secluded, accessible only by plane or boat. You can also arrive there by walking on a small mountain road that goes through the King’s Range.
Here, you can also find a state park, named the Black Sands Beach, where you can explore 3.5 miles of offshore reefs. This sand was formed by greywacke, a dark-colored sandstone. Tectonic movements transformed this stone into the sand you can see today. Whether you want to enjoy nice moments of peace and quiet or you are a passionate hiker, this black sand beach is a great place for you.
Black Sand Beach, San Diego – Blacks Beach
This beach in San Diego, California is owned by both the city and the state in a conjoint ownership. The north part of the beach is a popular nudists area, while in the southern part, nudity is illegal. This beach is surrounded by spectacular cliffs
This beach is best to be visited when the tide is low, because when the tide gets higher, the entire area is under water. This is a great area for those who love surfing, because it is not crowded, and it has bigger waves during the winter period.
Black Sand Beach Florida
This Florida beach is between the Gulf of Mexico and Lemon Bay. It measures an area of 177 acres full of palm trees and other luxuriant flora. It is great for hikers and tourists, who just want to relax and take sunbaths.
There are many services this beach has to offer, such as free parking, special areas for picnics, playgrounds, hiking trails, biking paths, and even a fitness park. All these make the beach even more attractive for tourists.
However, the water does not have a clear turquoise color, compared to other beaches, and the black sand is located more on the water’s edge. Further from the water, the sand has mixed hues of gray and black areas. There are quite a few storms every year that drag the sand into the water, leaving other things exposed, such as shells and fossilized materials.
The place is full of hotels and casual restaurants. An important touristic attraction is the period of the year in which the sea turtles come on the beach to lay their eggs.
Black Sand Beach Costa Rica
This location is in Guanacaste Province. Besides sunbathing and swimming, you can also find plenty of famous fine-dining restaurants. There is something for every taste, from Mexican food to French cuisine.
Playa Negra is no longer a small village. It has turned into a more prosperous town with many outdoors possibilities. The infrastructure has also developed in the last few years. Therefore, it is a lot easier for tourists to travel in and out of this area.
Playa Negra is well-known for its surf activities and its flora and fauna. This beach became famous after the movie Endless Summer II, which was filmed here. It is a quality place for surfers, being easily accessible. The waves are great for surfing throughout the whole tide range.
This black sand beach is in a tropical area, near a dry forest zone. There are only two seasons each year: The dry season lasts six months, and it is followed by the wet season, which lasts the same period length. The fauna is also very diverse. You will find exotic species of monkeys and squirrels. There are also plenty of oceanic animals, such as whales, gigantic tunas, and green sea turtles.
Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica
This is also Guanacaste beach. It will only take a 10-minute drive from San Jose, which is the capital city of Costa Rica. It is very popular among surf lovers for its waves and surf breaks. The currents are strong; therefore, swimming is not recommended. Unlike other locations, Playa Hermosa is the type of beach specially made for experts and professional surfers.
Here, the waves can reach up to 13 feet. Due to these conditions, the beach hosts annual surf championships every August. During these competitions, the location is full, with hundreds of surfers from all over the world. For those of you who don’t practice surfing or who are too tired and want to relax, this black sand beach is great to enjoy some peaceful moments in the company of a good book.
Black Sand Beach Iceland
Vík í Mýrdal
This beach is one of the most impressive black sand beaches in the world and the number one place in Iceland. The beach is part of the town with the same name, and it is at a distance of 180 km from the capital, Reykjavik.
It was ranked among the top ten most impressive beaches on the Globe, by the Islands Magazine Journal, in 1991. One of the main attractions here is bird watching. There are many species, such as puffins. The interesting fact about these birds is that, during their nesting period, they create underground shelters.
The climate here is a subpolar oceanic one, so winters are cold, but not very severe. Summer are short and cool. The rainfall periods are three times longer than those in the capital city of the island. Even professional surfers must pay attention while surfing at this beach. The waves are big, with unpredictable and powerful currents.
Other Beautiful Black Sand Beaches in Europe
Kamari Beach, Greece
Kamari is a small village in the south of Santorini. This island is a part of the Cyclades archipelago. This black sand beach is covered with fine sand and pebbles. Next to the beach, there is the famous Meso Vouno, rock salt coming out of the sea. Here, tourists can do plenty of activities, from relaxing on the sunbeds to several different water sports.
This is another Santorini black sand beach. It is longer than Kamari Beach, and it has plenty of accommodation possibilities. There are also many restaurants and clubs, where you can try local food and party all night. Greeks are well-known for their parties.
An interesting fact is this beach has only fine sand, with no other elements, such as rocks or pebbles. It measures five miles, and it is near the city with the same name as the beach.
Here, you can find spectacular cliffs and mountains and a volcano’s crater, which is no longer active. This beach is very popular among families, being awarded a Blue Flag. This means the place is eco-friendly.
Spiagge Nere means “black beaches” in Italian. This location is on the Vulcano Island, one of the Aeolian islands. These islands were formed by volcanoes, which are no longer active. There are plenty of activities for those looking to have fun, such as clubs and swimming pool bars.
The most beautiful black sand beach on the island is near the village of Stomboli. Here, the most popular beach is Spiaggia Lunga, which is translated as “the long beach.” This is one of the most exotic beaches in Europe.
Compared to other black sand beaches, Spiagge Nere is a location with calm waters, which can easily be explored by renting a paddle boat. Here, many famous Italian people come to benefit from mud treatments and hot springs.
For those of you who have an adventurous side, there is a hiking trail that takes you close to the volcano’s crater. The location offers plenty of accommodation possibilities and restaurants, where you can taste the local dishes.
Playa de Santiago
This beach is in the Canary Islands, Spain. If you want to get away from the crowded Tenerife, you can go by ferry to the La Gomera island. Although this place is much smaller, it is peaceful, and you can enjoy nice quiet moments.
The capital of this small island is San Sebastian, and Playa de Santiago is located five miles away from it. The beach has fine black sand and pebbles, and it has very picturesque panoramic views. The beach is delimited by mountains on one side and by the sea on its other side.
The island has a temperate climate all year round. Therefore, Playa de Santiago is the only beach on the island with lots of sunshine hours. Tourists can enjoy tasty local meals at the restaurants and accommodations at small hotels.
This is also the place declared a World Heritage by UNESCO in 1986. Nearby, you will find Puerto de Santiago, one of the places where Christopher Columbus stopped before continuing his journey to the Americas.
In conclusion, if you want to try something different on your next holiday trip, choosing a black sand beach location can be a great idea. The only thing you have to do is read about places you would like to see and choose the right one for you and your family.