When someone says “beach” you probably think of yellow or white sand, rolling waves, bright sunlight and a beer or fruity cocktail. But beaches come in far more different shapes and colors than some of us might have expected. Here are 17 beaches that, in one way or another, might not be anything like the beaches you’re used to.
One of the most striking differences in many of these beaches are the different sand colors. Sand is generally formed out of whatever the waves happen to be banging against the shore, be they rocks, shells, corals, or glass. Rare green beaches can contain olivine, which is a remnant of volcanic eruptions, and black beaches are also generally formed by volcanic remnants. The pink beaches of Bermuda are colored by coral remnants.
If you have a photo of a unique beach out there that should be on this list, share it with us below this post!
Unique Glass Beach in California
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Image credits: digggs
The glass beach near Fort Bragg in California formed after the trash dumped there for years by local residents was pounded into sand by the surf. The dumping was eventually prohibited, but the glass sand remains.
Hidden beach in Marieta, Mexico
Image credits: dailymail.co.uk
Image credits: Miguel Naranjo
This beach in Mexico is said to have formed after the Mexican government used the uninhabited islands for target practice in the 1900s.
Maldives Beach That Looks Like Starry Night Sky
Image credits: Will Ho
Image credits: Will Ho
The lights on this beach in the Maldives are caused by microscopic bioluminescent phytoplankton, which give off light when they are agitated by the surf.
The Beach of the Cathedrals, Ribadeo, Spain
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The stunning cathedral-like arches and buttresses of this beach in Spain were formed by pounding water over thousands upon thousands years.
Pink Sand Beach, Bahamas
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Image credits: luxuo.com
The idyllic pink sand of the Bahamas is pigmented by washed-up coral remnants, which are dashed and ground to tiny pieces by the surf.
Extreme Plane Landings at Maho Beach, Saint Martin
Image credits: Benny Zheng
Image credits: Kent Miller
Image credits: Manisha Desai
Image credits: D-P Photography
The black volcanic sand on this Icelandic beach contrasts beautifully with the white and glassy chunks of ice.
The Moeraki Boulders (Dragon Eggs) In Koekohe Beach, New Zealand
Image credits: Gerald Guerubin
Image credits: Farkul J
Image credits: arikairflight.blogspot.com
The boulders on this New Zealand beach are concretions – balls of sedimentary rock harder than the sedimentary earth that formed around them, which has long since washed away. These boulders get uncovered and smoothed by pounding waves.
Green Sand In Kourou, French Guiana
Image credits: Arria Belli
Papakōlea Green Sand Beach, Hawaii
Image credits: paradisepin.com
Image credits: Mark Ritter
The green sand on this beach in Hawaii is caused by the mineral olivine, which is formed by lava as it cools in the sea.
Giants Causeway Beach, Ireland
Image credits: Michael
Image credits: Stefan Klopp
The giant’s causeway was formed 50-60 million years ago when basalt lava rose to the surface and cooled, cracking into strange, large columns.
Punaluu Black Sand Beach, Hawaii
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Image credits: poco a poco
The black sand on Punaluu is formed by basalt lava, which explodes as it flows into the sea and rapidly cools.
Red Sand Beach, Rabida, Galapagos
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Image credits: Robert Peternel
The red sand at Rabida was formed due to the oxidization of iron-rich lava deposits, although it could also be due to washed-up coral sediments.
Shell Beach, Shark Bay, Australia
Image credits: australiascoralcoast.com
The water near Shell Beach in Australia is so saline that the cockle clam has been able to proliferate unchecked by its natural predators. It is this abundance of molluscs that floods the beaches with their shells.
Pfeiffer Purple Sand Beach, California
Image credits: irene joy
The purple sand at this beach (which is only found in patches) is formed when manganese garnet deposits in the surrounding hills erode into the sea.
Vik Beach, Iceland
Image credits: Stephan Amm
Iceland is a land with a lot of volcanic activity, which is why black volcanic beaches are so common there.
Cave Beach in Algarve, Portugal
Image credits: Bruno Carlos
The Algarve coast consists of limestone, which is easily eroded and can form stunning sea caves like this one.
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