Where on Earth to Find Rare Black Sand Beaches
This is often the result of volcanic lava flow over time (like at Kehena Beach in Hawaii) or glacial activity (like at Jökulsárlón Beach in Iceland).
Below is a list of must-see black beaches, each of which possess an unrivaled contrast to the blue waters that lap their shores.
Punalu’u Beach, Hawaii, U.S.
Located on Hawaii’s Big Island, Punalu’u Beach is frequented by beachgoers — and endangered turtles and seals. Known to locals simply as “Black Sand Beach,” Punalu’u Beach gets its deep black color from years of volcanic activity that has laced its sand with lava fragments.
Playa Jardín, Canary Islands, Spain
On Tenerife, the largest island in the Canary islands, is the touristy Playa Jardín. Considered a true urban beach, the beach was landscaped by artist César Manrique to create a juxtaposition between dark volcanic sands and lush greenery on the nearby shore.
Ureki Beach, Ureki, Georgia
Although it is not located on an ocean, Georgia’s Ureki Beach lies on one of the Earth’s largest seas: the Black Sea. While most beaches on the Black Sea do not have sand, Ureki Beach has sand that is alleged to have healing properties — something that’s kept swimmers flocking here for centuries.
Perivolos Beach, Santorini, Greece
Santorini is known for its stunning beachfronts and stark white stone buildings, but the all-black-sand Perivolos Beach on the island’s southern shore is lesser known. Head to this beach, in the town of Perissa, and take in the sight of ancient black sand next to the deep blue of the Mediterranean.
Kehena Beach, Hawaii, U.S.
Kehena Beach, on Hawaii's Big Island, is a small strip of sand surrounded by cliffs. If baring it all is your thing, Kehena Beach is one of the state’s only nude beaches.
Piha Beach, Piha, New Zealand
On the western coast of New Zealand’s North Island is Piha Beach, an often-times rough surf beach complete with black sand. Visitors to Piha Beach claim that in the summer the sand is hotter than on most other beaches.
Miho no Matsubara, Shizuoka City, Japan
For centuries Japanese artists have depicted the majestic Mount Fuji from the shores of Miho no Matsubara, a beach that provides perfect views of the summit. The beach is known for its distinctive pine trees.
Jökulsárlón Beach, Vatnajökull National Park, Iceland
Iceland is a hotbed of volcanic and geothermal activity, and it is these natural forces that created the black sands at Jökulsárlón Beach. Located on a glacial lake in southeastern Iceland, Jökulsárlón Beach is known for glistening black sand that’s covered in large pieces of icebergs. For this it’s gained the moniker “Diamond Beach.”
Playa Negra, Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica
Though surfers head here for sought-after right-hand barrel waves, Playa Negra is also known for its long stretches of black sand (hence its name). The beach is only accessible by dirt road.
Papenoo Beach, Papenoo, Tahiti
Tucked away next to the green mountains of Tahiti, Papenoo Beach draws adventure seekers because of the rivermouth that empties there. Waters can get rough, but the stark black sands make it worth the visit.