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

Image credits: unknown

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

Image credits: imgur.com

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

Image credits: greenglobe.travel

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

Jokulsarlon, Iceland

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

Image credits: hawaiitopten.com

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: Tom Grubbe | dfmead

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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