13+ Best Black Sand Beaches in the World: The Beauty of the Unusual

Had your fill of the most popular beaches? Time to explore the Best Black Sand Beaches in the World! Black Sand Beaches are not common, but that doesn’t mean they are not beautiful.

These have an entirely different atmosphere from your everyday beaches. Though they might not usually appear in the list of the world’s sexiest beaches, black sand beaches are worth a visit once in a lifetime due to their otherworldly qualities.

So which black sand beaches should you visit? What can you do in those places? Are there any different activities from regular beaches? Should you pack differentlyLet’s find out in this article.

1. Punaluʻu Beach, Hawaii

Hawaii has always been famous for its incredible and beautiful beaches. And among the top black sand beaches in the world, Punaluʻu Beach is the cream of the crop.

Despite the unusual look, you can still enjoy the usual activities at a beach, like swimming, snorkelling, etc., in Punaluʻu Beach. However, the experience might not be ideal because many rocks are underneath the surface, and the water is not so clear to see through easily.

The most impressive experience in Punaluʻu Beach is that you can interact with endangered sea animals. There are different varieties of sea turtles there, like green sea turtles or Hawksbill turtles. You might also get to see the monk seals.

But remember, do not touch or feed them. You should only admire these creatures from a distance because they are under the protection of the Endangered Species Act.

Best Black Sand Beaches in the World - CabinZero

Come Punaluʻu Beach is one of the few destinations where you can see these little fellas. Photo by MNStudio - stock.adobe.com

2. Playa Negra, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

When searching for black beaches in the world, there will be 2 Playa Negra that might confuse you. One is in Costa Rica and one is in Puerto Rico. The Playa Negra in Costa Rica was the setting for the movie Endless Summer II.

This is a famous beach for surfing, especially for advanced surfers. People usually visit this place in search of right-hand waves. The best time to surf in Playa Negra is during the high tides. Due to the enormous rocks and fast waves, it is best to avoid getting into the sea when the tides are low.

If you are not a surf lover, you can spend the day diving into the lazy vibe of this place. Go for a walk on the seashore to enjoy the special black sand. Don’t forget to visit local restaurants or cafes. Many divine dishes are waiting for you.

When you want to swim (the Playa Negra is unfit for swimming), head to Playa Lagartillo, just a 10-minute drive away. And if you have time, visit the Las Baulas National Marine Park. It is only about 14 miles (24 km) away from Playa Negra. This park contains four different beaches and a reputed shoreline of leatherback turtles.

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Playa Negra in Costa Rica has appeared many times in famous movies. Photo by CostaRica.org

3. Playa Negra, Vieques, Puerto Rico

Unlike its counterpart in Costa Rica, Playa Negra in Puerto Rico has only gained fame recently. Despite its newfound popularity, it remains relatively uncrowded, making it an ideal hidden gem for those seeking a unique black sand beach to visit.

The best time to visit this place is during the low tides. That way, you will experience the vastest sand expanse possible. The seashore is not entirely black but a mix of brown and black colours and is accompanied by a cliff wall adorned with lush bushes.

You should spend time for a slow walk, admiring this place's unscathed view of driftwood and rocks. Swimming, on the other hand, is not recommended.

Note that you must walk a 10-15-minute trail to reach the beach from the road. And be prepared to climb up and down paths with sharp rocks, mud, among other things. So pack light and a good pair of shoes.

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Playa Negra in Puerto Rico is much less crowded. G. Edward Johnson, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

4. Kamari Beach, Santorini, Greece

Kamari Beach is located on the island's east coast, about 6 miles (10 kilometres) away from Fira. This place boasts a remarkable presence, with numerous umbrellas and sunbeds adorning its shores, luring countless tourists to enjoy their day there.

While staying on the beach, you will get a view of the Mesa Volcano. This renowned destination is a hub for water sports enthusiasts, offering various exciting activities such as jet skiing, tubing, and more. For those seeking additional thrills, kayaks, surfboards, and other equipment can be rented to ensure an enjoyable time.

After enjoying all the activities, you can visit historical attractions near this beach, such as Ancient Thera or the Monastery of Profitis Ilias. You should also come to Pyrgos Kallistis - a village at the highest point of Santorini!

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Sunbeds and umbrellas adorn the shores of Kamari Beach, providing comfortable amenities for visitors to relax and enjoy the sun. Michelle Maria, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

5. Reynisfjara, Iceland

Renowned for its captivating beauty, Reynisfjara is one of the world's most famous black sand beaches. This stunning location has even graced the silver screen, appearing in notable films like Star Wars and Game of Thrones.

The beach is not a place to swim due to the strong currents. However, it is the perfect spot to admire the majesty of nature, where the mighty waves crash to the black sand and sea stacks stand out in the water.

Don’t forget to visit the Hálsanefshellir sea cave. The cave is outstanding, with basalt columns on the entrance in different sizes, one of the signature features of Reynisfjara. But keep in mind that the cave is not accessible during high tides. From Reynisfjara, you can also visit the Dyrahólaey Sea Arch.

Whatever you do, remember to stay away from the water and always be aware of your position. This beach is famous for having sneaker waves, an unpredictable, dangerous wave with big and strong forces that can sweep anyone away. Many accidents have happened on this beach due to sneaker waves.

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Reynisfjara has a signature dark vibe that has appeared in many movies. Photo by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash

6. Kehena Beach, Hawaii, U.S

On the eastern side of Hawaii island, you'll find Kehena Beach, another captivating black sand beach. You may have to take a short hike to reach this paradise, as the roads leading to the beach are narrow and untouched, preserving the area's natural charm.

Swimming is allowed. However, the safe area is small, with strong currents, so don’t get too far from the shore. What makes this place famous is the dolphins’ frequent visits to the area and the fact that it is an unofficial  clothing-optional beach.

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People can wear clothes or not when coming to Kehena Beach. Frank Schulenburg, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

7. Karekare, Auckland, New Zealand

With its stunning beauty, there is no surprise that Karekare was the setting for many movies. This is a popular destination for anyone who visits Auckland.

Belongs to the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, Karekare Beach is about 21 miles (35 kilometres) from downtown Auckland. The beach preserves its natural look with rock cliffs and glittering black sand. The strong currents here are the reason Karekare is a favourite among surfers.

From the beach, you can access the waterfall of the same name. You can swim in the pool under the waterfall or simply enjoy the cool weather the trees create.

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Karekare is outstanding, with black sand and rock cliffs. Photo by Bill Fairs on Unsplash

8. Stokksnes, Iceland

Stokksnes has a different beauty compared to other black sand beaches. It combines mountains, black sand, grass dune and a peaceful lagoon.

The beach has an isolated vibe, partly because it is not famous for tourism and partly because of the distinguished view here. The exotic black sand line stretches under the stately 1,500 feet (450 metres) Vestrahorn Mountain, rising prominently amidst the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. 

This is the perfect spot for photographers looking to capture nature's finest creation. Keep in mind that you can not swim here. Though peaceful, the streams are hazardous and can easily drown anyone.

Best Black Sand Beaches in the World - CabinZero

Stokksnes is stunning, like a beautiful painting. Photo by Kameron Kincade on Unsplash

9. Anse Couleuvre, Martinique, France

Anse Couleuvre is a hidden gem in Martinique, with untouched plants and a wild look. The shore of Anse Couleuvre is not entirely pitch black but more like a dark grey colour. It is two beaches separated by the Anse Couleuvre River.

The beach is settled near the active volcano Mount Pelée. This is the perfect spot to go for a picnic under the coconut trees or snorkelling. When the sea is not too rough, you can dive into the water to admire various kinds of sea snakes and fishes.

Many hikers and trekkers choose it as a starting point for their journey to Grand-Rivière, which is inaccessible by roads. You can also camp here for a night, just be sure to take everything you need as there are no bars or shops around.

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Anse Couleuvre is a wild beach with no shop nearby. Photo by chromoprisme - stock.adobe.com

10. Lovina Beach, Bali, Indonesia

Bali has always been a famous travelling destination with turquoise beaches and yellow-white sand. But did you know Bali also has a black sand beach? Lovina Beach is on the northwestern part of the island. It is less popular than other beaches in Bali, so you can expect fewer tourists. 

A must-try activity when visiting Lovina Beach is getting on traditional boats to see Bottle-nosed dolphins. The dolphins usually appear when sunrise, swimming along the vessels near the shores. Another thing to do is go snorkelling or diving. This beach has a diverse marine life that is worth exploring.

If you want something different, try Banjar Hot Springs, a local's and visitors’ favourite just 3 miles (5 kilometres) southwest. And while you are at it, visit Brahma Vihara Arama Buddhist Monastery, another stunning monastery to retreat to.

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You can easily spot the dolphins on Lovina Beach. Photo by CL-Medien - stock.adobe.com

11. Perivolos Beach, Santorini, Greece

Perivolos Beach is also on the East Coast of Santorini, like Kamari Beach. However, they are on two different sides of the Mesa Volcano. The facilities and activities are almost the same between the two beaches, but Perivolos has a more traditional vibe. 

If you want to spend a day playing on the beach with your family and enjoy the secluded sea, then Perivolos Beach is the choice to go. You can always take a water taxi to travel between the two. The hotels in Kamari are said to be better, so you can stay near Kamari Beach and visit Perivolos on a day trip to experience more. 

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Perivolos Beach is on another side of the Mesa Volcano with a more modest vibe. Photo by elen_studio - stock.adobe.com

12. Diamond Beach, Iceland

Iceland always has some of the coolest attractions in the world. And Diamond Beach is one of the most iconic destinations in the country.

The place is named Diamond Beach due to the big chunks of icebergs on the shore, various in shapes and sizes. The white and blue colours of the ice stand out on the black sand background creating a stunning view loved by many photographers.

Besides taking pictures of the wonderful nature here, you can also catch sight of the seals and orca whales. You should also visit the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. Keep in mind that swimming is not allowed here due to safety reasons, and you should not climb on the icebergs either.

Best Black Sand Beaches in the World - CabinZero

Diamond Beach is one of a kind, with icebergs and black sand. Photo by Tom Vining on Unsplash

13. Ficogrande, Aeolian Islands, Italy

Spiaggia Ficogrande lies in Stromboli, one of the three active volcanoes in the Aeolian Islands. Visitors can enjoy convenient amenities such as umbrellas, sunbeds, and more, creating a comfortable and well-equipped beach experience.

The beach is right in front of Stromboli, shining with black sand and clear water. It is safe to swim and also spacious because the beach is never crowded.

You can spend the day lying on the shore, swimming or sightseeing in Stromboli. You can also see the view of the active volcano with smoke and lava from the beach.

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You can see the active volcano from Ficogrande
Spatuzzi Bruno, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

14. Tangkoko Black Sand Beach, Indonesia

Tangkoko Black Sand Beach belongs to the Tangkoko Nature Reserve. It doesn’t have an official name, but you can always ask for the direction of the black sand beach from the tour guide.

The beach is only 5-10 minutes walk from the entrance of the Nature Reserve. Tangkoko Black Sand Beach is peaceful and animal-friendly. Sometimes, you can see macaques wandering near the shore. This will be a distinguished experience for you to explore the jungle and the black sand beach at the same time.

This beach is usually called Tangkoko Black Sand Beach because it belongs to the Tangkoko Nature Reserve.

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R.Rahasia, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

15. Miho-no-Matsubara, Shizuoka, Japan

Miho-no-Matsubara is a famous tourist destination in Shizuoka. The place is associated with old Japanese legends and was recognised as World Heritage by UNESCO in 2013.

The beach has a gorgeous look, with thousands of pine trees surrounding it and the Fuji mountain towering behind. While lying down on the shore is impossible due to the sharp rocks, you can still enjoy activities like walking, kayaking, etc.

Best Black Sand Beaches in the World - CabinZero

Miho-no-Matsubara has a view right to Fuji Mountain. Photo by Juliana Barquero on Unsplash

Why Is The Sand Black On These Beaches?

The sand on these beaches has a different colour from normal beaches because of the activation of volcanoes near them. When a volcano erupts, material such as molten lava may make its way to the sea.

The seawater then rapidly cools the lava down, causing it to solidify and shatter into small fragments. Over time, these rocks are worn down and turn into granules of sand. And that’s how black sand beaches are formed.

How Many Black Sand Beaches Are There In The World?

Black sand beaches are the result of working volcanoes; therefore, they are extremely rare. There are only around 20 black-sand beaches in the world. Some places have more black sand beaches than others, such as Greece, Hawaii, Japan, etc.

What You Need To Know Before Travelling To Black Sand Beaches

Because the black sand beaches contain other materials rather than just sand, there are some notes you should remember before heading to these destinations.

  • Always bring sandals or flip-flops: As mentioned previously, black sand is formed from lava, resulting in a coarse texture that may contain sharp rock fragments. Avoid walking around barefoot to prevent potential discomfort or injury to your feet.
  • Be aware of the heat: Black absorbs heat better than white or yellow. So the black sand seashores usually have higher heat than their white or yellow counterparts. If you intend to sunbathe on the shore, keep in mind that it will be hotter than usual, especially on warmer days.
  • Wear a hat and use sunscreen: Which takes us to the next point, always find a way to protect your head and skin. Your body will thank you later. Besides finding sunscreen with SPF 30+ rating, ensure that it is reef-safe.
  • Swimming is not always possible: Black sand beaches are often synonymous with water activities like swimming, paddling, and surfing. However, these beaches can present challenges such as strong currents and hidden rocks, rendering them unsafe for swimming or any activity.
  • Research the place’s amenities beforehand: Black sand beaches, on the whole, are hidden gems and are not as well-facilitated as more developed tourist destinations. For instance, Kehena only has some trash bins around, no showers, lockers, cafes, no nothing.
  • Pack appreciate gear in a quality pack: You don’t want to miss any chance to dip your toes into the water on any beach excursion. And a dry bag will help a ton when you want to bring along your swimsuits and beach gear.

H2. Be Safe And Have Fun!

Above are the 13+ best black sand beaches in the world that we recommend. Some of them don’t have much difference from the usual beaches, but some are surely distinguished. We hope that with the help of this list, you will have a wonderful trip to explore a whole different beauty. Good luck.

Claire Thuc

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