Some of the most beautiful beaches in the world have not white sand, but black sand, and they may be closer to you than you think.

When we think of the beach, images of white sand, sea foam and palm trees come to mind, but not all beaches are created equal. In the world there are incredible beaches with coal-black sand that fascinate us with the contrast with the blue water of the sea.

This type of black sand beaches are formed by volcanic materials and solidified lava fragments. That’s why it’s easy to find black sand beaches on many volcanic islands around the world, such as the Canary Islands or Iceland. Under the microscope, the three most common materials you’ll find on a black sand beach are basalt, andesite, and volcanic glass.

These are some of the best black beaches in the world:

Lafayette Beach, Tahiti

Lafayette Tahiti

In Tahiti, one of the islands in the South Pacific, is Lafayette Beach, famous for its black sands and green cliffs. The sand is so soft that your feet sink into it. Lafayette Beach is located in Matavai Bay, in the northwest of the island, close to the town of Papeete. A little further east is Point Vénus Beach, another black sand beach worth visiting.

Photograph: Mark CARAVEO

Jardim Beach, Tenerife

garden beach tenerife

Located in the north of the island of Tenerife, Playa Jardín offers visitors a break from the tourist hustle of Puerto de la Cruz. This black sand beach is a much loved, well planned and preserved piece of coastline and is considered to be one of the best black sand beaches in the world. The gardens that surround it were designed at the beginning of the 20th century by the Canarian artist César Manrique and are full of colorful flowers, waterfalls and palm trees that, between stone walls, guide bathers to the coal-black sand.

Perivolos Beach, Santorini, Greece

perivolos santorini beach

Perivolos beach is another of the best black beaches on the island of Santorini, a hot spot for those who prefer a beach with ambiance, music and people watching. It is surrounded by interesting places and you can practice sports, from windsurfing to diving. To avoid the crowds it is best to arrive early.

Karekare Beach, New Zealand

black beach new zealand

Karekare Beach, located 35 kilometers southwest of Auckland, is a much-loved beauty on New Zealand’s northwest coast. It is a 12-minute drive from popular Piha Beach, but this one is prettier and less crowded. Located in Karekare Regional Park, it is next to a waterfall and has black sand dunes and phenomenal views.

Playa Negra, Puerto Rico

black beach puerto rico

The sand at Playa Negra in Vieques is a stunning mix of black and honey and black due to volcanic runoff from the island combined with grain from the rocky cliffs. Also known as Playa Negrita, it is convenient to visit it during low tide, as we will have more sand to enjoy.

Reynisfjara Beach, Vik, Iceland

vik iceland

In Vik, on the south coast of Iceland, you will find one of the most impressive black sand beaches in the country and the world. The black pebble beach of Reynisfjara is a must-see when planning a trip to Iceland and has appeared in countless movies and TV series. There you can find many sea birds, including puffins, and very close to behold a spectacular cliff of basalt columns.

Photograph: Naveen Raj Dhanapal in Open

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