Powdery white sand fringed by aquamarine water and towering green palms is the perfect color palette. Until nature adds splashes of pink, red, orange, and purple sand, making for an even more dramatic beachscape. From the Bahamas to Australia, here are a few of the most colorful beaches in the world.
For Pink Sand
Pink Sand Beach, Harbour Island, Bahamas
Pink Sand Beach, on Bahama’s tiny Harbour Island, is literally named for its gorgeous rosé hue. Seductively stunning, especially in contrast to the surrounding aquamarine sea, this 3.5-mile, pink-champagne beach is surprisingly never crowded, although don’t be surprised to see model and fashion shoots in action.
For Purple Sand
Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur, California
For purple (yes purple) sand, take California’s scenic coastal highway to Big Sur. Especially eerie on a foggy day or following a storm — when the violet deepens to dark plum — Pfeiffer Beach’s purple sand comes from manganese garnet that has eroded from the surrounding hills and washed down to the sea.
For Red Sand
Kokkini Beach, Santorini Greece
Santorini’s stunning, Kokkini (Red) Beach draws its name from the steep red cliffs dipping down to the sea. The red sand was formed from the iron-rich, black and red lava rocks that once spewed from Thiria, the island’s ancient volcano.
For Green Sand
Papakolea Green Sand Beach, Naalehu, Hawaii
Green sand is rare, but worth the trek to remote Pakolea Beach on Hawaii’s Big Island. Olivine crystals (the color of olives) from lava rocks give the sand its striking green color. Papakolea is a two-hour drive from both Hilo and Kona, and involves a two-mile hike to reach the emerald-colored sand.
For Orange Sand
Porto Ferro, Sardinia, Italy
It is hard to miss the fiery orange sand of Porto Ferro, on Sardinia’s northern corner. The beach’s unusual pumpkin color is culled from orange limestone, crushed shells, and other volcanic deposits.
For Black Sand
Reynisfjara Beach, Iceland
While Hawaii is certainly famous for numerous black-sand beaches, a non-tropical alternative comes with Iceland’s Reynisfjara Beach, near the village of Vik. The sand (formed from black lava) offers a dramatic setting, with its rugged cliffs, pounding waves, and sleek, jet-black shoreline.
For Rainbow Sand
Rainbow Beach, Queensland, Australia
Located on Australia’s Sunshine Coast, Rainbow Beach is made up of 72 different colors of sand. While scientists contend the varying shades come from the cliffs’ rich mineral content, Aboriginals say that a rainbow fell from the sky onto the beach.
For Gray Sand
Ocean Cape Area, Gulf of Alaska
For shades of gray, head to Alaska’s Ocean Cape area near the remote town of Yakutat (population 700), to find miles of gray sand littered with twisty driftwood. The gray beach is part of Tongass National Forest, and lies adjacent to Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve.