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7 Unique Colorful Beaches to Enjoy Around the World

Discover sandy spots in different colors of the rainbow for your next vacation

spinner image ice rocks on the black sand of diamond beach in iceland
Ice rock is visible along the black sand at Diamond Beach, also known as Breiðamerkursandur, in Iceland.
Getty Images

The world is full of beautiful beaches, there’s no doubt about that. Though we most commonly think of white sand beaches, which can vary from the whitest white to cream and even golden sands, there are in fact beaches in myriad colors. While most of us will gladly settle for a patch of sand on our favorite beach under the warm sun, let’s take a look at colorful beaches around the world, and how they got to be that way.

spinner image a red sand beach on prince edward island in canada
Red sand can be found at Argyle Shore Provincial Park on Prince Edward Island, Canada.
TourismPEI/Carrie Gregory

Argyle Shore Provincial Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

The natural beach found within Argyle Shore Provincial Park features striking red sand that’s a direct result of high concentrations of iron oxide found in the cliffs that rise from the coastline. The day-use park is open mid-June through mid-September and is perfect for a waterfront outing, complete with picnic facilities and a playground for the littlest beachgoers. It’s pet-friendly, too, so long as your four-legged friend stays on a leash. When the tide goes out, you may even spot hermit crabs and digging clams foraging for their dinners.

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The park is in the aptly named Red Sands Shore region of Prince Edward Island, Canada, where you will find plenty of options for lunch and dinner, and some shopping, too.

spinner image a pink sand beach in bermuda
Iconic pink sand lures you into Horseshoe Bay, Bermuda.
Bermuda Tourism Authority

Horseshoe Bay, Bermuda

A quick flight from Boston, New York or Atlanta will land you in Bermuda, an island in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of South Carolina, known for its distinct culture, air of mystery and, of course, pink-sand beaches. Those iconic pink sands, like those found in Horseshoe Bay, are attributed to an abundance of red foram, an invertebrate that grows on the coral reefs found just off the island’s coastline. Red foram skeletons can reach up to 3 millimeters, and when the invertebrate molts as it grows, or dies, the skeletons blend with white limestone sediment to create the pink sands. They provide a bonus: The skeletons help protect coral reefs against erosion.

About 3 miles north of Horseshoe Bay is Southlands Park, 37 acres of natural landscapes, including its own beach, steeped in 300 years of island history. Walk through the grove of banyan trees and feel like you’re in another world.

spinner image golden sands on poipu beach in kauai hawaii
The golden sand stands out at Poʻipū Beach in Kauaʻi, Hawai‘i.
Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

Poʻipū Beach, Kauaʻi

Snorkeling, swimming, surfing, bodysurfing, bodyboarding and fishing are all popular activities at Poʻipū Beach on the south shore of Kauaʻi. Add to that a natural wading pool, on-duty lifeguards and picnic facilities and it’s the perfect destination for a day at the beach. It’s not only people who enjoy Poʻipū’s golden sands that are a result of coral and seashells broken down by ocean waves — Hawaiian monk seals find it a perfect place to rest, too. And during whale season, December through April, you may just spot humpbacks frolicking offshore.

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Near Poʻipū is another natural phenomenon: Spouting Horn blowhole, through which crashing waves soar as high as 50 feet into the air.

All visitors to Kauaʻi are asked to take the Aloha Pledge, making a commitment to protect the island during their stay.

spinner image water glowing blue with bioluminescent plankton in san diego
Bright streaks of blue can be seen in the water in the San Diego area thanks to bioluminescence, a natural phenomenon involving a kind of phytoplankton.
Erik Jepson for UC San Diego

La Jolla Shores, California

It may seem counterintuitive, but it’s after nightfall when beaches in San Diego occasionally become more colorful. In this part of California, it’s not the sand but the water that takes on a different hue. If you’re lucky, you may glimpse streaks of bright blue in the water, almost as if submerged lights have been turned on to illuminate the waves. It’s not underwater lights that shine, though, but rather bioluminescence, a natural phenomenon involving a type of phytoplankton. Bioluminescence has recently been seen at several beaches in the San Diego area, including Ponto Beach and Torrey Pines State Beach, and other beaches up the Southern California coastline.

Before you catch the bioluminescence after nightfall, spend time exploring the undersea world during the day, while staying dry, at Birch Aquarium.

spinner image purple sand on pfeiffer beach in california
The purple sand at Pfeiffer Beach in California is a result of manganese garnet that has eroded from the nearby hillsides to the beach.
Getty Images

Pfeiffer Beach, California

In central California, beachgoers can find patches of purple sand at the north end of the mile-long Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur. The purple sand is a result of manganese garnet that has eroded from the nearby hillsides to the beach. It’s not only the purple sand that the beach is known for — there’s also Keyhole Rock, which makes for fantastic photos. During low tide, peek into the tide pools to see the small sea creatures that make their home there. The best time to visit Pfeiffer Beach is in the spring, summer or fall; winter rains may temporarily close access to the beach.

North of Pfeiffer Beach is Old Fisherman’s Wharf in downtown Monterey. Here you’ll find plenty of dining and shopping options, along with whale watching tours, day cruises and more.

spinner image the northern lights over jokulsarlon glacier lagoon in iceland
The northern lights can be seen over Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. Mini icebergs from the lagoon often float onto Diamond Beach.​​
Getty Images

Breiðamerkursandur, Iceland

The dramatic Icelandic landscape becomes even more so with a visit to any of the island nation’s black sand beaches. In fact, nearly all of Iceland’s beaches have black sand, due in large part to the island’s frequent volcanic activity. Iceland is one of the most active areas in the world for volcanic eruptions, averaging an eruption every four to five years, and since 2021, about every 12 months. Volcanic eruptions make for exciting views, but travelers should be aware of evacuations and heed official warnings. Volcanic activity accounts for Iceland’s dramatic black sand, or crushed basalt, the dark gray or black rock with a mineral composition that includes higher levels of augite and pyroxene; basalt accounts for 90 percent of the Earth’s volcanic rock.

One of Iceland’s black sand beaches to visit that’s a bit more remote but still accessible by car is Breiðamerkursandur in Vatnajökull National Park, about a five-hour drive east of Reykjavík in the southeast of Iceland. Breiðamerkursandur is commonly referred to as Diamond Beach, not only because it’s easier for us non-Icelandics to say, but because of the mini icebergs that float ashore from calving glaciers and Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. You may also recognize this part of Iceland from its cameo in Game of Thrones.

spinner image people lounging on the white sand of siesta beach in florida
The white sand at Siesta Beach outside of Sarasota, Florida, is powder soft.
VisitSarasota.com

Siesta Beach, Florida

Many beaches around the world claim to have white sand, but when you get there, you find the sand to be tan or more golden than white. Not to say those beaches aren’t beautiful, but for a true white sand beach look no further than Siesta Beach on Siesta Key outside of Sarasota, Florida. Ranked the No. 2 beach in the U.S. and No. 9 in the world in the 2024 Tripadvisor Traveler’s Choice Awards, the sand at Siesta Beach isn’t just pristine white, but powder soft too. The reason behind the sand’s white color and soft feel? Quartz. The sand at Siesta Beach is made of 99 percent pure quartz grains, which grind down to a soft, flour-like feel as it travels along the rivers in the southern Appalachians to the Gulf of Mexico.

After a day at the beach, hop over to Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium on Lido Key to learn all about the marine life that call the Gulf of Mexico home.

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