The 22 Most Soul-Stirring Black Sand Beaches in the World

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One of the winning images from Matjaz Krivic's travel portfolio is this portrait of Onno, a teenage girl from the Arbore tribe. It was shot in an Arbore village in the Omo Valley in southern Ethiopia where the tribe live. The women are known for adorning themselves with colorful beads.
Slide 1 of 23: Contrary to popular belief, black sand beaches were not formed so that those among us who are naturally drawn to the darker, more gothic side of life. (Or those of us who prefer the black heart emoji above all.) Instead, black sand beaches were likely formed when fragments of lava and other volcanic minerals were broken down over centuries by the ocean. For this reason, you'll find many black sand beaches in areas like Hawaii and Iceland, but there are also some unexpected contenders-take Greece and Italy, for instance. Read on for where you can find one of nature's most marvelous creations, whether you're looking for a tropical or glacial getaway.
Slide 2 of 23: On the westernmost tip the Spanish archipelago that is the Canary islands is this spectacular outpost. Rent a car, charge your camera, and get ready for a low-key day of outsized beauty. Learn More
Slide 3 of 23: This black sand beach is still relatively new. In 1990, a volcano on the Big Island erupted, covering the former Kaimu beach with 80 feet of lava. Now, 20 years later, the ocean has turned chunks of lava into grains of black sand. Learn More
Slide 4 of 23: The island of Jeju is becoming a popular destination for travelers, and it's easy to see why. In addition to lave tubes, a theme park dedicated to sex and a water massage resort, Jeju boasts incredible beaches. Many of these beaches are covered with black sand, a result of volcanic activity that created the island millions of years ago.learn more
Slide 5 of 23: The only black sand beach in the continental United States is well-worth-it five-hour drive from Sacramento. It's rugged, sharp, and not ideal for swimming or sunbathing; dogged surfers admire the wild tides and waves from afar-the waters are too dangerous to enter. But the unparalleled beauty leaves every visitor supremely satisfied. Learn More
Slide 6 of 23: The northern coast of Martinique is known for beaches with dark black sands, such as Anse Couleuvre, shown here. Juxtaposed dramatically with the blues of the Caribbean and the greens of the surrounding hills, this stretch of sand makes for a one-of-a-kind getaway (not to mention great color scheme inspo).learn more
Slide 7 of 23: This autonomous community of Spain is known for both black sand beaches and white sand beaches - and, of course, nearly perfect temperatures all year round. The rugged coastline of the islands, which are home to active volcanoes, is as dramatic as the black grains of sand. One particularly famous black sand beach is Playa Jardín. Learn More
Slide 8 of 23: In Santorini you'll find a stretch of black sand dotted with grass umbrellas and lounging chairs. Nearby, a mountain called Mesa Vouno - which boasts the ruins of an ancient city called Thira, believed to have originally been a Spartan colony - is a popular tourist attraction.learn more
Slide 9 of 23: Found at the foot of the Dua Saudara Mountain, Tangkoko Nature Reserve has a wide expanse of plant life, animal life (including primates!) and, of course, soot-black beaches.learn more
Slide 10 of 23: No wonder "Pirates of the Caribbean" used Dominica as one of its filming locations: This small island (known as "The Nature Island") has black sand beaches that perfectly combine the mystique and the beauty of the Caribbean. Learn More
Slide 11 of 23: The Big Island is home to a variety of colorful sandy beaches from white sands to green sands, but one of its most famous is the Punalu'u Black Sand Beach found on the southeastern Kau coast. Swimming conditions aren't ideal here, but you may be able to spot sea turtles lounging on the sand. Learn More
Slide 12 of 23: Just a 50-minute drive from downtown Auckland, this sparkling beach offers wonderful opportunities for surfing, walking and picnicking. You'll find the Karekare waterfall just a short walk away. Learn More
Slide 13 of 23: Italy may be an unexpected country for a black sand beach, but an Italian island known as Stromboli is one of the most active volcanoes on Earth. It has erupted almost perpetually for 2,000 years, creating the black sand beaches visitors (and, we have to guess, the few hundred locals) love.learn more
Slide 14 of 23: Not only will you be able to marvel at the beauty of black sand at Miho No Matsubara, but the World Heritage site is also an ideal place to place to gaze at Mount Fuji. Learn More
Slide 15 of 23: Soak up the waves and the luxury of small crowds at the various low-key black sand beaches in Bali, which were formed from cooled lava from the nearby Mt. Agung. Learn More
Slide 16 of 23: You may not find beach umbrellas at this beach, but its rugged, dark terrain that stretches for 40 miles attracts those looking to horseback ride, kiteboard or hang glide.  Learn More
Slide 17 of 23: The black beaches on the island of Tahiti are surrounded by lush vegetation. A favorite for many locals is Point Venus Beach, which has a charming lighthouse and attracts athletes with its black sand soccer field. Learn More
Slide 18 of 23: Perhaps one of the most famous beaches in Iceland, Reynisfjara features expanses of black pebbles, basalt columns that resemble pyramids and a large bird population, including fulmars, puffins and guillemots. The waves can be extra rough and unpredictable, so be careful if you go near the water. Learn More
Slide 19 of 23: If you're an avid hiker, make a trek along the Kohala Coast a must-do on your bucket list. The hiking trail runs mostly along the black beach, and there are various opportunities for splashing around in a freshwater lava pool or the ocean along the way. Learn More
Slide 20 of 23: In southeastern Iceland you'll find expanses of black beach that is as mysterious as it is calming. Just imagine seeing the Northern Lights from here - breathtaking.LEARN MORE
Slide 21 of 23: Found on Maui, this black sand beach was formed when waves collided with lava, shattering it into small fragments. Explore the nearby freshwater caves, ancient temples and burial grounds, and lava formations. LEARN MORE
Slide 22 of 23: A popular hotspot for surfers, Playa Negra (literally, "black beach,") offers a calm, quiet landscape with tide pools and protected swimming areas for families. LEARN MORE
Slide 23 of 23: One of Iceland's most popular and breathtaking attractions, Diamond Beach boasts pieces of glaciers that wash ashore, resembling diamonds against the jet black beach. LEARN MORE

Contrary to popular belief, black sand beaches were not formed so that those among us who are naturally drawn to the darker, more gothic side of life. (Or those of us who prefer the black heart emoji above all.) Instead, black sand beaches were likely formed when fragments of lava and other volcanic minerals were broken down over centuries by the ocean. For this reason, you’ll find many black sand beaches in areas like Hawaii and Iceland, but there are also some unexpected contenders-take Greece and Italy, for instance. Read on for where you can find one of nature’s most marvelous creations, whether you’re looking for a tropical or glacial getaway.

1) Playa Roque Bermejo, Spain

On the westernmost tip the Spanish archipelago that is the Canary islands is this spectacular outpost. Rent a car, charge your camera, and get ready for a low-key day of outsized beauty.

Learn More

2) Kaimu, Hawaii

This black sand beach is still relatively new. In 1990, a volcano on the Big Island erupted, covering the former Kaimu beach with 80 feet of lava. Now, 20 years later, the ocean has turned chunks of lava into grains of black sand.

Learn More

3) Jeju, South Korea

The island of Jeju is becoming a popular destination for travelers, and it’s easy to see why. In addition to lave tubes, a theme park dedicated to sex and a water massage resort, Jeju boasts incredible beaches. Many of these beaches are covered with black sand, a result of volcanic activity that created the island millions of years ago.

learn more

4) Black Sands Beach, California

The only black sand beach in the continental United States is well-worth-it five-hour drive from Sacramento. It’s rugged, sharp, and not ideal for swimming or sunbathing; dogged surfers admire the wild tides and waves from afar-the waters are too dangerous to enter. But the unparalleled beauty leaves every visitor supremely satisfied.

Learn More

5) Anse Couleuvre, Martinique

The northern coast of Martinique is known for beaches with dark black sands, such as Anse Couleuvre, shown here. Juxtaposed dramatically with the blues of the Caribbean and the greens of the surrounding hills, this stretch of sand makes for a one-of-a-kind getaway (not to mention great color scheme inspo).

learn more

6) Canary Islands, Spain

This autonomous community of Spain is known for both black sand beaches and white sand beaches – and, of course, nearly perfect temperatures all year round. The rugged coastline of the islands, which are home to active volcanoes, is as dramatic as the black grains of sand. One particularly famous black sand beach is Playa Jardín.

Learn More

7) Perissa Beach, Greece

In Santorini you’ll find a stretch of black sand dotted with grass umbrellas and lounging chairs. Nearby, a mountain called Mesa Vouno – which boasts the ruins of an ancient city called Thira, believed to have originally been a Spartan colony – is a popular tourist attraction.

learn more

8) Tangkoko Nature Reserve, Indonesia

Found at the foot of the Dua Saudara Mountain, Tangkoko Nature Reserve has a wide expanse of plant life, animal life (including primates!) and, of course, soot-black beaches.

learn more

9) Dominica, The Caribbean

No wonder “Pirates of the Caribbean” used Dominica as one of its filming locations: This small island (known as “The Nature Island”) has black sand beaches that perfectly combine the mystique and the beauty of the Caribbean.

Learn More

10) Punalu’u Beach, Hawaii

The Big Island is home to a variety of colorful sandy beaches from white sands to green sands, but one of its most famous is the Punalu’u Black Sand Beach found on the southeastern Kau coast. Swimming conditions aren’t ideal here, but you may be able to spot sea turtles lounging on the sand.

Learn More

11) Karekare Beach, New Zealand

Just a 50-minute drive from downtown Auckland, this sparkling beach offers wonderful opportunities for surfing, walking and picnicking. You’ll find the Karekare waterfall just a short walk away.

Learn More

12) Stromboli, Italy

Italy may be an unexpected country for a black sand beach, but an Italian island known as Stromboli is one of the most active volcanoes on Earth. It has erupted almost perpetually for 2,000 years, creating the black sand beaches visitors (and, we have to guess, the few hundred locals) love.

learn more

13) Miho No Matsubara, Japan

Not only will you be able to marvel at the beauty of black sand at Miho No Matsubara, but the World Heritage site is also an ideal place to place to gaze at Mount Fuji.

Learn More

14) Bali, Indonesia

Soak up the waves and the luxury of small crowds at the various low-key black sand beaches in Bali, which were formed from cooled lava from the nearby Mt. Agung.

Learn More

15) Muriwai Beach, New Zealand

You may not find beach umbrellas at this beach, but its rugged, dark terrain that stretches for 40 miles attracts those looking to horseback ride, kiteboard or hang glide.

Learn More

16) Tahiti, French Polynesia

The black beaches on the island of Tahiti are surrounded by lush vegetation. A favorite for many locals is Point Venus Beach, which has a charming lighthouse and attracts athletes with its black sand soccer field.

Learn More

17) Reynisfjara, Iceland

Perhaps one of the most famous beaches in Iceland, Reynisfjara features expanses of black pebbles, basalt columns that resemble pyramids and a large bird population, including fulmars, puffins and guillemots. The waves can be extra rough and unpredictable, so be careful if you go near the water.

Learn More

18) Keawaiki Bay, Hawaii

If you’re an avid hiker, make a trek along the Kohala Coast a must-do on your bucket list. The hiking trail runs mostly along the black beach, and there are various opportunities for splashing around in a freshwater lava pool or the ocean along the way.

Learn More

19) Stokksnes, Iceland

In southeastern Iceland you’ll find expanses of black beach that is as mysterious as it is calming. Just imagine seeing the Northern Lights from here – breathtaking.

LEARN MORE

20) Wai’anapanapa State Park, Hawaii

Found on Maui, this black sand beach was formed when waves collided with lava, shattering it into small fragments. Explore the nearby freshwater caves, ancient temples and burial grounds, and lava formations.

LEARN MORE

21) Playa Negra, Costa Rica

A popular hotspot for surfers, Playa Negra (literally, “black beach,”) offers a calm, quiet landscape with tide pools and protected swimming areas for families.

LEARN MORE

22) Diamond Beach, Iceland

One of Iceland’s most popular and breathtaking attractions, Diamond Beach boasts pieces of glaciers that wash ashore, resembling diamonds against the jet black beach.

LEARN MORE

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