Beach holidays are amazing for trying water sports, relaxing with your loved ones, and hiking. To make your vacation even more special, travel to a black sandy beach and admire the stunning landscapes. Beaches with black sand are more common than you think, so here’s a list of the best ones in the world to visit.
Black sand comes from the breaking down of volcanic material like basalt and volcanic glass. This means that all the beaches in this list are in areas that, at one time or another, had volcanic activity.
Iceland is a breath-taking country, and Stokksnes beach in the east is one of the most astounding parts of the whole island. The black beach is overlooked by the impressive Vestrahorn mountain and is a beautiful hiking spot.
Located just under 300 miles (480km) from the capital of Reykjavík, it’s a long drive but definitely worth it. Not many tourists visit the area, so it can be a photographer’s dream destination.
If you travel at the right time of year, you can watch the Northern Lights from the beach as they dance atop Vestrahorn. There’s also an old Viking colony nearby, which is very picturesque in its own right.
The Mayon volcano can be found on the island of Luzon, the biggest and most populous of the Philippines. This volcano is active, so is exciting and wondrous to visit. It has also created some of the most beautiful black sand beaches in the world thanks to its volcanic activity.
The beaches to the east of the volcano, located in Albay province, are covered in stunning black sand and lined with palm trees. There are many diving sites which are perfect for both beginners and pros. And if you’re interested in skimboarding, the loose sands and varied inlets allow you to catch wave-breaks suitable for all levels.
Punalu’u, Hawaii, USA
Our first USA black sand beach on the list. Located on Hawaii’s Big Island, Punalu’u is a magnificent beach created by the Mauna Loa and Kīlauea volcanoes. Its name comes from the fresh water that flows underground into the ocean. It is believed that ancient Hawaiians would dive into the salt water and swim below to collect freshwater in jugs.
This spot isn’t the best choice for sunbathing or swimming. The sand can be rocky and the currents are strong. However, the true beauty of Punalu’u comes from the nature that surrounds it.
The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is just northeast, and the Ka’u Forest Reserve is to the west. The beautiful Pacific Ocean washes over your feet as you stare into the horizon. And you will have the chance to see a rare hawksbill or green turtle, which enjoy basking on the sand.
When it comes to nature, Italy has no short of magnificent places. Just north of Sicily you will find the Aeolian islands, including Stromboli. The island gives its name to the volcano that has been active for over 2000 years. There are many beaches with black sand on the island, Ficogrande being the most popular.
The black sand guides you to the clear waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea. You can rent lounge chairs and sun umbrellas, and pick up a gelato at the concession stand. You can admire the local fisherman and it’s a short stroll to the main village.
You can quickly walk to the foot of the mountain, and in a few hours you can hike to lookout points. Whether you look up to the top of the volcano or out to sea, you will have an astounding view.
Black Sands Beach, California, USA
What better place to see a beach with black sand than one that’s named after its most iconic feature? If you’re looking to take a road trip with an epic destination, consider driving to Black Sands Beach from San Francisco or Sacramento.
The beach isn’t a good choice for swimmers or surfers: the currents are too strong. However, it’s an ideal spot for people who enjoy seeing majestic and rugged landscapes. The beach stretches for 4 miles (6.4km) and is protected by forest.
It’s a great place for walking and the sand is comfortable for laying down and picnicking. As it’s part of the Kings Range National Conservational Area, you have to pay an admission fee, which is well worth it once you see the stunning black sands.
Papenoo, French Polynesia
On the French Polynesian island of Tahiti, you can find one of the most stunning beaches with black sand in the world. It’s a hotspot for surfers due to its incredible waves, but is less frequented by sunbathers than the island’s other beaches.
It’s a beautiful place for a stroll, as the beach is lined by palm trees and tropical forest. In the surrounding area, you can go for hikes through the forests and valleys, and visit gorgeous waterfalls.
If you’re interested in catching some waves, the summer is the best time to visit. The surf is pretty consistent, so you can hit the beach at any time of day. And it’s just a short walk to the nearby village.
Anse Couleuvre, Martinique
The Caribbean island of Martinique is a magnificent spot for a holiday. Even its nicknames will make you want to visit it: the Island of Flowers and Pearl of the Antilles being the two most intriguing.
It has an active volcano, astounding cliffs, gorgeous forests, and crystal-clear water. The beaches in the south generally have white sand, while those in the north have black sand. This is due to the proximity of the northern beaches to the Mount Pelée volcano.
The Anse Couleuvre beach in the northeast is one of the most beautiful, as its black sand contrasts deeply with the blue of the Caribbean and the vivid greens of the mangroves that line the coast.
Another breath-taking beach in Iceland is Reynisfjara, on the island’s southern coast. The black sands blend into the black cliffs to create a truly awe-inspiring landscape. Rock formations rise out of the water like basalt pyramids.
Located around 115 miles (187km) from Reykjavík, it’s really worth the drive. Aside from the beautiful black beach, you can visit the Hálsanefshellir Cave, an enormous opening in the rock that has formations resembling Northern Ireland’s Giant’s Causeway.
You can easily get from the beach to the nearby village of Vík í Mýrdal, where you can hide from the wind and cold in one of its many coffeeshops. There’s even a show that demonstrates how lava interacts with ice.
If all this isn’t enough to convince you to visit, TV fans will be thrilled to hear that Reynisfjara was a filming location for Game of Thrones, setting the scene for Eastwatch-by-the-Sea from the seventh season.
Playa Jardín, Canary Islands
The island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands is a perfect spot for a summer getaway, and Playa Jardín is on the list of its best beaches.The water is a splendid temperature, the waves are good for surfing, and the black sand contrasts with the colourful buildings of the town.
It’s a great place for families looking for a relaxing holiday, as there are lounge chairs and concession stands. There’s also a nearby playground for kids, and lifeguards are always vigilant. Refer to the complete packing list for beach vacation to make sure you’re prepared for anything.
It’s also a quick stroll to nearby hotels and restaurants. And the town of Puerto de la Cruz has great attractions, including cool parks, beautiful churches, and the stunning botanical gardens.
Pa‘iloa, Hawaii, USA
Wai’anapanapa State Park on Maui is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, and includes the stunning Pa‘iloa Beach. It really is a tropical wonderland. The sand is jet-black, mixing beautifully with the Pacific Ocean. Along with the deep greens of the park, it makes for a stunning photo backdrop.
The waves can be dangerous, so relaxing on the sand or taking a stroll through the park are the best options. There are many caves and blowholes where you can see the ocean crashing into the volcanic rock formations.
If you’re interested in learning more about the volcano and caves, head to the Hana Lava Tube. It’s a cave that was formed by underground rivers of lava. Once you get tired of the darkness, visit the beautiful coastal trail and stare out towards the horizon.
Santorini is well-known as a great holiday destination, and Perissa Beach is one of the spots that gives it this reputation. It’s an idyllic town located on the southeastern coast, and it offers something for everyone.
There’s a gorgeous stretch of coast where you can enjoy the inviting Aegean Sea. You can lay out your towel on the warm black sand or rent a lounge chair and umbrella. There are even volleyball courts and plenty of restaurants and bars along the shore.
If you feel like discovering more about Greek culture and history between sunbathing sessions, you can travel to the ancient city of Thira, which overlooks the sea. If you prefer to learn about the geological activities that created the black beach, you can take a tour where you will visit the nearby volcano, as well as hot springs and monasteries.
Karekare Beach, New Zealand
New Zealand comes across as the holiday destination that has everything. Beautiful scenery, amazing cities, interesting wildlife, and that’s not all. If you’re looking for a gorgeous beach with black sand, you will find it here too. Karekare Beach is a perfect example of a spectacular stretch of coast where black sand meets the blue sea.
Located around 25 miles (40km) from Auckland, it’s a quick drive from the bustling downtown area. It’s part of the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, so you will pass through lovely forests on the way to the beach.
Once you get there, you will truly feel the rugged beauty of the area. The sand stretches from the black and green cliffs into the cool water. Surfers are usually in abundance as the waves are exciting and energetic. You’ll avoid the bigger concentrations of sunbathers, who tend to gather in the nearby Piha Beach.
On your way back inland, make sure to stop at the Karekare Falls. The water streams over the rocks, forming pools where you can take a swim, before it continues on into the Tasman Sea.
Playa Negra, Puerto Rico
The main feature of this beach really is in the name. Playa Negra is made up of deep black sand, which mixes with sediment from the cliffs. This gives it a honey-coloured finish that will leave you marvelling at the beauty of nature.
The warm Caribbean waters wash over the shore. Families tend to enjoy this beach as the currents are safe and the sand is welcoming. Another bonus of this area is that it is on the smaller island of Vieques, so if you’re looking to avoid the crowds on Puerto Rico, you’ll be in the right place.
You’ll also be a short drive from the town of Esperanza, where you can find accommodation, shops, restaurants, and anything else you need.
Praia dos Mosteiros, Azores, Portugal
The Azores are made up of nine main islands, plus many smaller clusters. On the biggest island, São Miguel, you’ll find the magnificent Praia dos Mosteiros. The beach is a beautiful shade of black, which looks deeper as the cold Atlantic rushes over it.
In the summer, the beach fills with tourists looking for a fun day at the coast. You can watch the local fishermen as they gather their catch of the day, and the inquisitive birds who try and grab their own bite to eat.
One of the most stunning parts of Mosteiros beach is the presence of natural swimming pools, where the sea water gathers and is trapped during high tide. These make great places for children as there aren’t any waves.
Diamond Beach, Iceland
Once again, Iceland is topping the list of countries with the best black sandy beaches. What makes Diamond Beach a true contender is the phenomenon that gives this place it’s English name: huge pieces of glaciers wash up on the beach, making it look like the shore is covered in diamonds.
There are two parts to this beach, one on either side of the sea’s entrance to the Jökulsárlón lagoon. As the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier breaks up, the pieces flow into the lagoon and wash up on the beach.
These chunks of glacier are what make this place truly unique: every time you visit, it will be different, as the ice will slowly melt and be replaced by new pieces. The way they contrast with the blackness of the sand and refract the scene is awe-inspiring.
Playa Pavones, Costa Rica
Playa Pavones in southern Costa Rica is a beautiful black beach with activities of all kinds. It’s mostly popular with surfing enthusiasts, as the waves that come from the Pacific into Pavon Bay are long-lasting: some surfers have surfed for over 2 minutes non-stop, travelling for just under a mile (around one kilometre).
The water is warm, but the currents can be rough. The beach is lovely for sunbathing though, and you can take a break in the shade of the rainforest that comes to meet the sand. It’s also possible to go sport-fishing. If you prefer something a bit more relaxing, there are horseback rides along the beach and through the forest.
The area is around 230 miles (370km) from the capital of San José, so it’s a long drive. However, you can fly to the nearby town of Golfitos. If you do drive, you will pass through beautiful forests and national parks, and will be a short drive to Costa Rica’s neighbour to the south, Panama.
Lovina Beach, Indonesia
The island of Bali is a true tropical paradise. It has stunning rainforests, interesting animals, and gorgeous beaches, many of which are covered in black sand. One of the best is Lovina Beach on the northern coast.
Lovina is part of the Buleleng Regency, and is close to the provincial capital of Singaraja. It’s less crowded than other beaches in the area, and has calm waves that are perfect for children. There is an incredible reef just off the coast, so snorkelling and diving are a must.
One of the best activities in the area is dolphin-watching: pods of playful dolphins can be seen from the shore, or you can rent a boat and travel out to meet them.
If you have time to take a trip inland, there are many marvellous waterfalls in the region that are only a short drive away. And if you’re interested in the local culture, the stunning Ulun Danu Beratan temple is less than 20 miles away (30km). This place of worship floats on a lake and is decorated with incredible sculptures. It’s definitely worth a visit.
Not many people think of Georgia as a typical holiday destination. However, it’s full of beautiful landscapes, captivating culture, and great beaches. The town of Ureki has a fantastic beach with black sand with an interesting story.
The sand has high levels of magnetite, a mineral made up of iron. It is believed that, thanks to this, the beach has healing properties. People who suffer from joint problems and cardiovascular diseases report feeling much better after visiting Ureki.
Another reason this beach sticks out as being one of the best in Georgia is that it is relatively pebble free (much of the Black Sea coastline has an abundance of small stones). It’s also lined with pine trees, which give a delightful aroma to the surrounding area.
The best time to visit Ureki is in the summer, when the temperatures are quite high. It’s around 185 miles (300km) from Tbilisi, the nation’s capital.
The stunning Batuangus beach is located in northern Indonesia, and is surrounded by the incredible Tangkoko Batuangus Nature Reserve. At the centre of the reserve is Mount Tangkoko, the volcano that created the black sands on the beach.
Batuangus is a part of the coastline along a crescent-shaped bay. The water is clear and warm, and the shore is lined with tropical trees. If you’re lucky, some of the local wildlife might come on to the beach to warm themselves up.
The nature reserve is home to many incredible creatures, including macaques and tarsiers. One animal that only lives in this part of the world is the anoa, also known as the dwarf buffalo. It’s possible to take treks through the forests and mountainous areas, where you’ll have a better chance of sighting these fantastic creatures.
Keawaiki Bay, Hawaii
On the northwestern coast of Hawaii’s Big Island lies one of the most beautiful trekking spots in the world. One portion of the trek will bring you by Keawaiki Bay and its gorgeous beaches. Here you can truly admire where the incredible force of molten lava can be stopped by the ocean.
The dark sands mix with the clear waters, which are perfect for snorkelling. You can see stunning reefs and timid fish. Back on land, you can walk over the rockier surfaces and admire the twists and turns of solidified lava.
If you head a bit further inland, you can appreciate the golden freshwater pools filled with beautiful algae. These pools are connected to the ocean by underground passages. They look refreshing, but it’s not recommended to swim in them as they are delicate ecosystems.
Rosalie Bay, Dominica
One of the lesser-known islands in the Caribbean is Dominica. Not that that means it’s any less spectacular than the others. It has the beaches, forests, and culture to match other parts of the Caribbean, but without the huge crowds.
It’s a volcanic island, giving it some of the most beautiful beaches with black sand in the world. Rosalie Bay beach is a great example of where you can witness the merging of different environments. The Atlantic Ocean washes over the black sands, heading towards the deep green forest. And there’s the possibility of seeing sea turtles as they come to nest on the shore.
Further south you can find Wavine Cyrique Falls. Here, water flows out of the cliffs onto the “Secret Beach”, which during high tide is completely covered by the ocean. These stunning destinations are around 15 miles (25km) from the capital’s airport.