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 10 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.
#1 Unique Glass Beach in California
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.
#2 The Beach of the Cathedrals, Ribadeo, Spain
The stunning cathedral-like arches and buttresses of this beach in Spain were formed by pounding water over thousands upon thousands years.
#3 Pink Sand Beach, Bahamas
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.
#4 Jokulsarlon, Iceland
The black volcanic sand on this Icelandic beach contrasts beautifully with the white and glassy chunks of ice.
#5 The Moeraki Boulders (Dragon Eggs) In Koekohe Beach, New Zealand
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.
#6 Giants Causeway Beach, Ireland
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.
#7 Pfeiffer Purple Sand Beach, California
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.
#8 Vik Beach, Iceland
Iceland is a land with a lot of volcanic activity, which is why black volcanic beaches are so common there.
#9 Cave Beach in Algarve, Portugal
The Algarve coast consists of limestone, which is easily eroded and can form stunning sea caves like this one.
#10 Red Sand Beach, Rabida, Galapagos
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.