There's a 'Popcorn Beach' in the Canary Islands With 4,000-year-old Coral Fossils That Look Like Kernels

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Playa popcorn, Fuerteventura
Photo: Getty Images

You may think you want to head to a vacation destination with soft, white-sand beaches, but what if we told you, you can experience something even cooler? The Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago located off the coast of northwestern Africa, is already home to some of the most stunning shorelines around. Here, you'll find crystalline waters, craggy cliffs, and plenty of fluffy sand beaches, too. But, you'll also find one of the most unusual beaches on Earth: the "Popcorn Beach." Popcorn Beach (or Playa del Bajo de la Burra) is located on the island of Fuerteventura and has the rather unique "sand" that resembles puffed-up popcorn, just like the stuff you'd get at the movie theater. However, the kernels aren't actually sand. Rather, they are coral fossils that have washed ashore and are now dusted with volcanic ash, which gives them that bright white, popcorn-like color and shape.

To be very technical about it, the Hello Canary Islands website explains, the tiny structures are known as rhodoliths. They "grow underwater at one millimeter a year, so if a particular section measures 25 centimeters, it will have been growing for 250 years," says the website. The tourism website notes that some rhodoliths "have been judged as being more than 4,000 years old." Though the phenomena, and the stretch of shoreline, aren't new, they have gained wider attention thanks to social media. If you want to visit, it's a pretty easy spot to find once you make your way to the Canary Islands.

Popcorn Beach in Corralejo, Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain. Beautiful landscape on Coast od Atlantic ocean
Maciej Grabowicz/Getty Images

According to Ferry Hopper, Playa del Bajo de la Burra (or Popcorn Beach) is close to the town of Corralejo in the municipality of La Oliva. Visitors may find it easiest to hike from Corralejo to the nearest area with the "popcorn" at Playa del Bajo de la Burra. The hike from town to Playa del Bajo de la Burra takes about an hour each way.

One very important thing to remember is that, while it's ok to take photos with or of the "popcorn," it is not ok to take any home with you.

Details of Popcorn Beach near the town of Corralejo, north of the island of Fuerteventura, Canary Islands. Spain
Getty Images

"According to some sources, more than 10 kilos of coral is taken away from Popcorn Beach each month," says the Hello Canary Islands website. "It is vital that all visitors to Popcorn Beach remember that the white coral on the shore should never be broken up, much less put into pockets and taken home."

Learn more about this extraordinary beach and how to visit here.

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