The World's Most Colorful Beaches

Beach sand comes in more colors than you thought

I'm going to let you all in on a little secret: I hate sand. I hate that it sticks to my body and that it gets inside my camera. I hate that I find it in my backpack weeks and even months after the last time I was at a beach. I hate that it somehow ends up in my mouth when I'm eating a meal or enjoying a cocktail dozens of yards away from it. When I can, I prefer to swim on rocky beaches, like those you find in Greece or on the east coast of Italy.

With this being said, I'm fascinated by some of the world's sand – namely, beaches that exist in colors other than white, black and brown. I remember hearing about pink sands years and years ago (so long ago, in fact, that I couldn't just Google them to see if my friend was yanking my chain), but as you'll see if you continue reading, they're only the beginning of the world's weird sands.

  • 01 of 05

    Bermuda's – and Indonesia's – Pink Beaches

    Pink Beach view
    John Crux Photography/Getty Images

    "Bermuda," my aforementioned friend responded, when I asked him specifically where the pink sands he spoke of were located. "You can lay on pink sands in Bermuda."

    As it turns out, pink beaches are not entirely uncommon the world over. Bermuda notwithstanding, you can also find them on Komodo Island in Indonesia, although that entails sharing the beach with potentially lethal Komodo dragons – I think I'll stick with Bermuda.

  • 02 of 05

    The Green Sands of Hawaii

    Hawaii's Green Sand Beach
    The sands of this beach in Hawaii are so green they almost look like moss. Phil Hollman via Wikimedia Commons

    It's no secret that Hawaii is full of amazing natural wonders and thus, it should be no surprise that a Hawaiian beach – specifically, Papakōlea Beach in the Kau district of Hawaii's big island – is where you'll find green sands. The sand itself is not green but rather, takes on a green color due to crystals of the mineral olivine, which have been mixed in with it over millions of years.

  • 03 of 05

    The Red Sands of Hawaii

    Maui Red Sand Beach
    The red sands of this beach in Maui, caused by iron deposits, contrast beautifully with the surrounding greenery. Courtney Nash via Flickr

    Ho, ho, ho – it's Christmas in Hawaii! Or Christmas colors, anyway: You'll not only find green sand in Hawaii, but also red sand. Maui's Kaihalulu Beach takes on a rusty, red color, thanks to iron ore deposits in the land just underneath it. Call me crazy, but learning about all these colored beaches is making me start to like sand a little bit.

  • 04 of 05

    Malta's Orange Beach

    Orange Beach at Ramla Bay in Malta
    Malta's orange beach is cool enough, even without the Roman ruins. Jennifer Morrow via Flickr

    Poor Malta. With a land area of just 122 square miles, it's way too easy to forget when thinking of Europe, which is the main reason I've yet to visit it during my dozen or so trips to the continent. Once I finally do get to Malta, however, you can bet one of my first stops will be Gozo island, whose Ramla Bay is home to extremely rare orange sand, which makes for amazing pictures even if you don't consider all the Roman ruins nearby.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    There's a Purple Beach in California

    Pfeiffer Beach Purple Sand
    Looking for purple sand? Head to Pfeiffer Beach, California, near Big Sur. Akos Kokai via Flickr

    A few years after my friend told me about Bermuda's pink beaches, another friend told me about so-called "amethyst" beaches in California. This particular friend had a penchant for hyperbole, so although Googling anywhere, anytime was easy by this point in history, I simply rolled my eyes at him.

    Turns out I shouldn't have been so cynical. Pfeiffer Beach is in fact purple, which is indeed due to amethyst deposits in the sand.