16 Best Black Sand Beaches in the World
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Beach vacations are the best, especially if the strand you're lounging upon is jet black. Often caused by volcanic rocks, the unique black color found on beaches across the globe is a massive draw for tourists looking to up the glam factor of their holiday.
Black sand beaches are both inspiring and picturesque. Whether located in countries like Hawaii, Greece, Spain, or Indonesia, these impressive strands invite travelers to update their Instagram pages with enviable shots all while enjoying serene landscapes and exciting activities (we're talking swimming, surfing, sailing, and snorkeling, to mention just a few).
We know you're hoping to spend some quality time lounging seaside, so we've chosen to highlight black sand beaches that are not only gorgeous, but also comfy enough to enjoy for a day. Book your next beach vacay with help from our list of the best black sand beaches in the world.
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1. Lafayette Beach, Tahiti
Ever wanted to leave black footprints in the sand? Head to the islands of the South Pacific. You'll find black sand galore on Tahiti, which is home to Lafayette Beach. A remarkable beach, famed for its ink-colored base and verdant cliffs, this is a lovely spot to lounge the day away.
The coal-black sand is a phenomenal backdrop for photos and is so soft, your feet will sink right in. Although not the turquoise you'd expect from the region (the sable sand makes the ocean seem much darker), the water here is warm enough to entice beachgoers to spend hours splashing about.
Lafayette Beach is located on Matavai Bay, on the northwest side of the island, near the town of Papeete. A little farther east, you'll find Point Vénus Beach, another black sand beach worthy of a visit.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Resorts in Tahiti
2. Playa Jardín, Canary Islands
Located in northern Tenerife, Playa Jardín offers visitors a quiet respite from the touristy buzz of Puerto de la Cruz. This inky wonderland is a well loved and incredibly well planned piece of paradise on one of the best Spanish islands.
Designed in the early 20th century by prominent Canarian artist, César Manrique, this strand overflows with charm. Verdant gardens burst with colorful blooms, while trickling waterfalls and waving palms guide tourists past stone walls to the coal-black sand.
Most come to enjoy the vibrant blue surf, which contrasts perfectly with the ebony shore. Protected by a lateral breakwater, the waves are optimal for boogie boarding and surfing in the open areas.
It's easy to spend an entire day beachside. Lifeguards are on duty, there's a playground for kids, and plenty of amenities on-site.
Insider's tip: Pack water shoes to protect against rocks.
- Read More:
- Best Places to Visit in the Canary Islands
3. Punalu'u Beach, Hawaii
You won't be alone when you visit Punalu'u Beach on the southeast coast of Hawaii's Big Island. While there are bound to be other tourists enjoying its shiny, coal-black sand, your main competitors for a comfy spot will likely include hawksbill and green turtles.
Keep your interaction with these endangered beauties to a minimum. They're protected, so visitors aren't allowed to get closer than 15 feet. With so much to explore on this vast beach, you won't mind keeping your distance. Don't miss a visit to nearby Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park.
The black sand can be a bit rocky due to the volcanic rock that lends it that lovely dark color. Also, be wary of the water - the current is quite strong here. Visit during low tide and check out the interesting creatures washed up in the tide pools.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Resorts on the Big Island of Hawaii
- Read More:
- Best Beaches on the Big Island of Hawaii, HI
4. Kamari Beach, Greece
Talk about a picturesque spot. The black sands of Kamari Beach flow into the white-washed resort town of the same name on Santorini's southeast coast. One of the largest black sand beaches on this volcanic isle, Kamari Beach offers a lovely view of the towering Mesa Vouno.
The beach is lined with lounge chairs and umbrellas, which attract many tourists. That said, its popularity comes with perks in the form of water sport rental companies, restaurants, cafés, and shops. During the summer, lifeguards protect swimmers in the relatively calm, azure water.
As with most black sand beaches, you'll want to wear shoes to protect your feet from the hot rocks and pebbles strewn throughout the sand.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Santorini: Best Areas & Hotels
- Read More:
- Top-Rated Tourist Attractions on Santorini
5. Spiaggia di Ficogrande, Italy
One of the greatest upsides to having a volcano on your island comes in the form of inky black beaches. Take Stromboli for example. This photogenic Aeolian Island is chock-full of ebony sand, the most popular of which is Spiaggia di Ficogrande.
Like Kamari, this Italian beach's fame comes with a few advantages, namely concession stands, water sport equipment rentals, lounge chairs, and umbrellas (for a fee). Sandwiched between the deep blue Tyrrhenian Sea and the lush peak of the volcanic rock, Strombolicchio, this beach is a photographer's dream backdrop.
Recognized as a Blue Flag beach (that means it's accessible and adheres to high environmental standards), Ficogrande is remarkably clean with uber clear water. It's easy to lose track of the time on this clean and comfortable strand.
6. Lovina Beach, Bali
It's easy to relax on Lovina Beach, an ebony strand on the northwestern edge of Bali. Spanning the coast running along seven tiny towns, this 12-kilometer stretch of volcanic sand is both wide and vast. Its prime location means you'll find small shops and restaurants nearby.
Less popular than Bali's best beaches (i.e. Kuta, Amed, and Jimbaran Bay), Lovina Beach offers visitors a quiet spot to relax without fighting the crowds. Another bonus: Smaller waves make swimming safer for those traveling with kids.
Snorkeling and dolphin watching are the two most popular activities at Lovina Beach, which means you'll be able to enjoy Bali's best assets - it's underwater creatures - with ease. Pods of dolphins are known to play in the waves just offshore.
Insider's tip: Pack snorkel gear, as a vibrant reef lies close to the sand.
Accommodation: Best Beach Resorts in Bali
- Read More:
- Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Bali
7. Karekare Beach, New Zealand
A jet-black strand located 35 kilometers southwest of Auckland, Karekare Beach is a much-loved beauty on New Zealand's northwest coast. More secluded than the more popular Piha Beach, which lies a mere 12-minute drive north, Karekare is said to be even prettier.
Black sand sparkles in the sun, while on overcast days, the volcanic base gives off an eerie, otherworldly glow. Located in Karekare Regional Park, this wild and rugged beauty is close to a waterfall and boasts black sand dunes and phenomenal vistas.
It's a fab spot for surfers due to the epic waves. Swimming isn't the safest, but you won't mind, since you'll likely have the beach to yourself and you can cool off by sticking your toes in the water.
Speaking of toes, wear shoes! The black sand retains heat, making it quite hot during summer. If you're hoping to visit during spring, it will help warm you.
8. Black Sands Beach, California
Bet you didn't know there was a black sand beach in the United States. Aptly named Black Sands Beach, this dark beauty lies in California's King Range National Conservation Area. It sits on the southern end of the 20-mile-long coast that runs between Shelter Cove and the Mattole River Campground.
If you're looking to build a sandcastle, this beach isn't for you. The base is mainly made up of black pebbles, not sand, so you'll want to keep your shoes on. That said, this quiet strand is a pretty reward for those willing to trek down (and back up) a long staircase.
From this beach, you can hike the Lost Coast Trail to find campsites or explore the coast, combing for treasures as the tide goes out. Don't take anything home or you'll face a fine - the area is protected. Swimming is also possible, as long as you're aware of the tide's schedule.
- Read More:
- Top-Rated Beaches in California
9. Anse Chastanet, Saint Lucia, Caribbean
It's hard to find a prettier spot than Anse Chastanet in western Saint Lucia. Part of the Anse Chastanet Resort in Soufriere and open to the public, this inky colored beach is a photographer's dream. Tall palms wave hello, offering respite from the hot sun, while lush hills and mountains tower in the distance.
Set within a marine reserve, this beach offers the island's best snorkeling and scuba diving, one of the top things to do in St. Lucia. There's a dive shop on-site for easy rentals, and the calm, clear water make swimming and exploring the vibrant underwater world a breeze.
This isn't the only black sand beach on the island. Due to its volcanic makeup, you'll find a few lovely dark beaches to visit while you're here.
Cas en Bas Beach is a more secluded option in the north, pristine Anse Cochon lies between Soufriere and Castries, and Anse L'Ivrogne is found in a hidden, deep cove on the west coast.
10. Number One Beach, Dominica, Caribbean
Expect to get muddy on your way to northern Dominica's Number One Beach. You have to hike about 15 minutes through dense jungle to get here, but once you catch sight of this ethereal sable spot, you'll be glad you made the trek.
You won't find amenities at this rugged black sand beach, so jump into the inviting (yet sometimes rough) waves to rinse off the muck. Then set yourself up on the soft, dark sand for a picnic. If you time your visit right (i.e. between April and June), you'll catch sight of turtles coming ashore to lay eggs.
The beach is surrounded by mangroves, sea grapes, and coconut palms intent on reclaiming the sand. Tall cliffs dwarf the strand, adding to the area's mysterious allure.
- Read More:
- Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Dominica
11. Playa Negra, Puerto Rico
The sand at Playa Negra in Vieques, is a stunning mixture of honey brown and black due to the island's volcanic runoff combining with grains from the rocky cliffs. Also known as Playa Negrita (Little Black Beach), this pretty strand is remote and spectacularly beautiful, dotted with pieces of dramatic driftwood.
The best time to visit is during low tide - you'll have more sand to enjoy. Unlike other, rockier beaches on this list, Playa Negra features fine sand that makes walking the shore easy. It also contrasts spectacularly with the aqua Caribbean waves and tan cliffs.
Visitors to this pretty black sand beach in Puerto Rico can often wander along the 10-kilometer strand alone, as this isn't one of the island's most popular beaches.
Accommodation: Best Beach Resorts in Puerto Rico
- Read More:
- Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Puerto Rico
12. Perissa Beach, Greece
Santorini never fails to disappoint when it comes to fabulous scenery. The lovely, dark Perissa Beach is a prime example of innate beauty found on this Greek isle. Set near the town of Fira, close to the ancient ruins of Thira, this is a wonderful spot to relax.
The contrast with the crystalline Aegean Sea and the phenomenal vistas of Mount Vouno make this a remarkable place to spend a day.
If you're looking for a quiet retreat, visit during the off-season, when the beach is less crowded. Its close proximity to shops and restaurants, as well as the amenities (i.e. chair and umbrella rentals, bathrooms, and volleyball courts) make this a popular vacation destination.
No matter when you visit, plan to keep your shoes on, especially if it's a particularly sunny day. Being a black beach, the sand can get quite hot.
13. Benijo Beach, Canary Islands
Being the most popular of the Canary Islands, Tenerife boasts a slew of lovely beaches. One of the most natural is Benijo Beach. While the current is too strong to spend the day splashing about in the water, this is a perfect place to wiggle your toes in black sand.
You can't beat the scenery - giant volcanic rock formations emerge from dark azure waves, greeting visitors who gasp with amazement at their immense beauty.
Sunset is spectacular at this northern Tenerife locale, the lowering rays adding to the beach's majestic allure. To get here, you'll need to descend a set of stairs from the high cliff on which the village of Benijo is perched. We recommend bringing food and water.
14. Paiola Beach, Hawaii
Wai'anapanapa State Park is home to one of the best beaches in Maui - Paiola Beach. This black beauty was formed hundreds of years ago, when lava was cooled by the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean. Today, it is best known as a phenomenal backdrop for photographs.
Set in stark contrast to the sapphire waves that caress its grains, the area's pitch-black sand is so remarkable, you have to see it to believe it. You'll be hard-pressed to find a more dramatic locale. Add a few sea caves, freshwater pools, tunnels, and craggy sable cliffs, and your camera will quiver from all the excitement.
While many choose only to stop here to take photos while en route to Hana, you'd be amiss if you didn't stay awhile to enjoy the rugged serenity. Be careful if you're hoping to swim - the currents can be quite strong and unpredictable.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Resorts on Maui, HI
15. Saint-Pierre Beach, Martinique, Caribbean
Once the bustling capital of Martinique, Saint-Pierre succumbed to a volcanic eruption (from Mount Pelée) in 1902. As a result, the city perished, leaving only one survivor, ruined buildings, and a beach forever blackened by the event.
Today, Saint-Pierre is a quiet resort town, and one of the top places to visit in Martinique for both its storied past (complete with ruins) and its shiny, black sand beach. Backed by lush trees just steps from downtown, Saint-Pierre Beach boasts an impressive view of the lush volcano, so resplendent it's hard to imagine the horrific damage it caused.
This beach is a perfect spot to unfurl your towel, soak up some rays, unwind, and splash about in the serene bay.
16. Miho No Matsubara Beach, Japan
While not the most comfortable to lie on (it's pretty rocky), Japan's Miho No Matsubara Beach is worthy of a visit. Most travelers spend the day walking along its shores, hiking through a pine forest, kayaking, or canoeing. The main reason people visit, though, is for the incredible view.
Mount Fuji rises in the distance, offering beachgoers unsurpassable vistas, especially during sunset. In fact, Miho No Matsubara Beach is part of the Mount Fuji UNESCO World Heritage site and is one of the most photographed areas in the region.
The beach runs over four kilometers on the Miho Peninsula, near Shizouka, and lies along Surga Bay. It is lined by thousands of towering pine trees, each a part of the Miho-no-Matsubara pine grove.
Insider's tip: Visit during summer, so you can enjoy the water sports along with the scenery.
- Read More:
- Best Beaches in Japan
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More Beaches to Explore: Have you ever met a beach you didn't like? It doesn't happen often, but it's no fun when it does. Next time you're planning a beach holiday, use our list of the best beaches in the United States or our collection of the best strands in the Caribbean. You're guaranteed to find a beach you'll love.