20 Black Sand Beaches

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Although there are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of beautiful beaches in the world, you may have been lucky enough to travel to the stunning white stretches of sand that grace the islands of the Caribbean, the Maldives or the Mediterranean. Perhaps you’re tired of endless powdery golden sand and searching for something a little different. You can find otherworldly black sand beaches in some of the most beautiful and unique places on earth.

These beaches are common in highly volcanic places, and the sand is caused by lava flow shattering into millions of pieces, creating an amazing spectacle. Areas with high volcanic activity include the rugged islands of Hawaii, New Zealand and Iceland, but you can find black sand beaches (and other colours) across the globe. So, get ready for a day at the beach like no other when you head to any of the incredible spots.

Black Sand Beaches

20 Best Beaches With Black Sand Around The World

1- Papeno’o Beach, Tahiti

black sand beaches world
Looking for black sand beaches around the world? Check out our top 20.

Tahiti is well-known for being extremely volcanic, and this is not the only black sand beach in French Polynesia, however, it is certainly one of the best.

This spot has a stunning swathe of jet-black sand, and the water is some of the clearest in the world.

Waves here are also high, making it particularly popular with surfers.

As it’s fairly rugged, it’s worth hiring a 4WD or a driver to get you here.

Once you arrive, enjoy the waves before exploring the surrounding lush jungle, where you can hike and visit waterfalls.

Climb the eastern headlands for panoramic views across the beach and surrounding island at sunset.

2- Santo Domingo, Philippines

black sand beach tenerife foot
Walk barefoot on the volcanic black sand beaches of the world for an experience to remember.

On the remote island of Luzon in the Philippines, you’ll find everything the country is famous for – impossibly blue water filled with coral reefs, beautiful beaches and lush green landscapes.

The only difference at Santo Domingo is the colour of the sand.

Surrounded by palm trees and rugged rocky outcrops just offshore, it makes a great place to spend a day relaxing.

Plus, black sand is known for its minerals and therapeutic properties, which you can try by exfoliating and coating your skin in it in the ocean.

3- Paiola Beach, Hawaii

Waianapanapa Beach black sand
Waianapanapa Beach is a lovely black sand beach in Hawaii’s Big Island.

Paiola Beach, also known as Waianapanapa Beach, is another of Hawaii’s volcanic beaches, this time in Maui.

The beach is on the island’s eastern coast and has panoramic views of the ocean and offshore rock formations.

This black-sand beach is less crowded than others in Hawaii, as it is mostly a stopping point on the way to other destinations.

This means if you visit, you’ll have it mostly to yourself.

Close to the beach, there are lots of short walks to nearby caves and saltwater pools where you can see various marine life.

4- Playa Cavones, Costa Rica

black sand beach costa rica
A black-sand beach in Corcovado National Park, Osa Conservation Area, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica.

Travellers seldom visit the small town of Pavones near the Costa Rica-Panama border, and the village itself is sleepy.

However, if you make the trip, you’ll be rewarded with a brilliant black sand beach and some of Central America’s best surfing.

It is also quiet because it’s tricky to reach, requiring a seven-hour drive from San Jose or a short plane ride.

The area is undeveloped, but you can relax on the miles of deserted beach, swim and explore the surrounding jungle nearby.

At low tide, small pools form among the rocks at the beach, which can be fun to paddle in, and the entire area will make you feel as though you’re in a lost world.

5- Karekare, New Zealand

black sand beach near me pair of feet on sand
Feel the sand between your toes on one of these black sand beaches around the world.

New Zealand is filled with mountains, volcanoes, hot springs, waterfalls, and black-sand beaches are not out of the ordinary.

Karekare is in West Auckland, and although it’s not as popular as its neighbour Piha Beach, it’s a black sand beach that is far quieter and untouched.

Like many in New Zealand, the beach is wild and windswept, so not ideal for sunbathing, but the stunning Karekare Falls are waiting to be explored nearby.

You can also visit the pretty Opal Pool Stream Cascade, where you can enjoy a refreshing swim after a hike.

6- Perissa, Santorini

black sand beach greece thatched umbrellas on the beach
Perissa black sand beach in Santorini’s Cyclades island on the Aegean sea.

One of Greece’s only black sand beaches, the stunning Perissa beach is at the base of Mesa Vouno Mountain, where the sand originates.

This beach is not in a remote and wild location like many other black-sand beaches worldwide.

Perissa is a busy, bustling beach popular with both tourists and locals.

Hundreds of umbrellas and deck chairs line the sand, and you can go swimming or do water sports.

The black-sand beach is lined with bars, restaurants and clubs, so you can enjoy fresh seafood, a cocktail, and even some live music as the sun goes down.

7- Playa Negra, Vieques, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is famous for having many unique landscapes, including bioluminescent bays, lush jungle and black sand beaches.

Playa Negra isn’t entirely black but is a mix of jet black and warm golden sand.

The beach feels remote and rugged, with lots of driftwood, rock formations, and jungle, which you can explore to your heart’s content.

There is little to do here except kick back and relax, but Puerto Rico is small, and you won’t be too far from a village or town where you can grab some fresh local food or drink.

8- Punalu’u, Big Island, Hawaii

Punalu’u is the most famous of all Hawaii’s black sand beaches, and this isn’t just because of the jet-black sand.

The beach is a nesting ground for both Hawksbill and green turtles, which you can see sitting in the sun all along the coast at the right time of year.

Like the rest of Hawaii, you can enjoy many activities here, including swimming, surfing, diving and kayaking.

Nearby there are also amazing coastal hikes, jungles and waterfalls, and you can even camp here.

This is one of the coolest black-sand beaches in the world but make sure to bring water shoes, as there are often larger chunks of lava that can be sharp in the water.

9- Reynisfjara, Iceland

black sand beach iceland
The dramatic Reynisfjara black sand beach in Iceland.

Reynisfjara is possibly one of the world’s most famous black sand beaches.

Iceland’s landscape could easily be in outer space, with enormous volcanoes, strange terrains, and landscapes, so it’s no surprise it’s home to black sand.

Aside from the sand, the views are spectacular, with rock formations jutting out of the water offshore and the black sand forming winding spits and sandbars.

The rocks are famous as a Game of Thrones filming location and are home to thousands of native bird species.

Although swimming and sunbathing aren’t on the cards here, it’s worth exploring the whole area, which can be reached by tour or in your car.

10- Monterrico, Guatemala

Monterrico, Guatemala black sand beaches
Monterrico is one of the stunning black sand beaches in Guatemala.

Guatemala is still low on the tourist radar, but anyone who does come here always adds Monterrico to their list.

Another beach formed from volcanic debris, this beach is as close to paradise as you can get with sparkling blue ocean and sky-high palm trees along the coastline.

Monterrico doesn’t have much to do, so this is the perfect palace to get stuck in and enjoy the wonder of such a unique place.

You can lay on the beach, swim, snorkel or surf, and tour nearby mangrove forests.

If you visit in June or December, you might be lucky enough to see the hundreds of sea turtles that hatch here yearly – a common occurrence on black sand beaches.

11- Black Sands Beach, California

black sand beach california
You might be surprised to find a black sand beach in California too!

Most people have no idea that you can find black sand beaches on mainland USA; at Black Sands Beach in California, you’ll find one of the best.

The beach is near the Golden Gate National Recreation Area of San Francisco near the Golden Gate Bridge.

The beach here is a spectacle in itself, and although you can swim and surf, it is highly recommended to check the tide and ocean conditions which can be strong.

It’s a unique and unmissable destination for a quick taste of what a black sand beach is like.

12- Saint Pierre, Martinique

black sand beach martinique
Double rainbow over Saint Pierre in Martinique.

The town of Saint Pierre is one of Martinique’s most historic towns, which was destroyed by a volcanic eruption from Mount Pelée in 1902 that killed thousands of people.

Enjoy the beautiful clear waters Martinique is famous for and go swimming, diving or do water sports.

The beach also has stunning views across the island’s volcano.

In the nearby town, you can visit the original theatre, prison and church, which are mostly still standing and are a fascinating part of the island’s history.

13- Miho No Matsubara, Japan

black sand beach japan
Japan has a few black sand beaches, such as Shonan Beach in Chigasaki City (pictured here) and Miho No Matsubara.

Japan has its fair share of unique and unusual landscapes, and Miho No Matsubara is just one of them.

The area earned World Heritage status in 2013 due to the 30,000 pine trees that grow in the area, the black volcanic sand on the beach and the close-up views of Mount Fuji from the shoreline.

Although the beach is quite rocky, it’s worth visiting for the spectacular mountain views in one of the most remote places on earth.

14- Ureki Beach, Georgia

Ureki Beach black sand georgia
Ureki Beach is a black sand beach in Georgia.

Ureki beach is possibly one of the most unique black sand beaches in the world, as the sand here is believed to be magnetic, attaching to anything made of metal left on the beach.

The sand also has deep healing properties, so you’ll find many people visiting to try and relieve joint and bone pain and local shops selling remedies containing the sand.

You can enjoy all the normal activities on the beach here too, including swimming and water sports such as kayaking and jet skiing.

There are plenty of cafes, bars and even resorts lining the beach for when you need a snack break or if you plan to stay overnight.

15- Diamond Beach, Iceland

beach with black sand iceberg on sand
Iceland’s famous black sand beach has icebergs. Diamond beach is by the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon in Vatnajokull National Park.

Diamond Beach is arguably one of the world’s most famous beaches, mainly due to the presence of ‘diamonds’, which are huge crystal-clear blocks of ice that scatter the beach and sparkle in the sun.

However, this beach also has black sand, making the spectacle even more unique and creating a stunning contrast with the diamonds.

It’s a popular spot for photographers and occasionally weddings, which you can reach on tour or in a 4WD.

If you’re lucky, you can also spot orcas playing in the waves just offshore, making it one of the country’s most diverse places to see.

16- Padar Island, Flores, Indonesia

black sand beach indonesia
Panoramic scenic view of Padar Island at sunset with dramatic sky. Palau Padar in Komodo National Park is home to Indonesia’s famous black sand beach.

Padar Island is famous not just for its stunning white sand beaches, or even its black sand beach, but because it has three different coloured beaches – including a pink one.

The island is in the wild and remote Komodo National Park, home of the famous dragons, and although many people visit just for that pink beach shot, the black beach here is just as amazing.

Aside from relaxing on the beach, the waters here are teeming with life, and you can see turtles, sharks, manta rays, dolphins and whales, as well as all the wildlife onshore.

You can only reach the islands on a boat trip, so plan for at least a day or two to fully explore everything on offer here.

17- El Bollullo Beach, Canary Islands

black sand beaches
Playa de el Bollullo black volcanic sand beach in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain.

Although most people head for Tenerife in search of a classic beach holiday in a resort with white sandy beaches and a pool, there is a black sand beach here too.

El Bollullo is a perfect crescent of black sand surrounded by sheer rugged cliffs.

The beach here is particularly popular with locals who come here for a relaxed day out at the beach and to enjoy some fresh local food at one of the little seafood shacks nearby.

Come on a weekday to avoid local crowds, and you’ll have it to yourself.

18- Piha Beach, New Zealand

black sand beach new zealand Here it is in early spring, when you can have it almost to yourself.
Piha Beach on Auckland’s west coast is one of New Zealand’s popular black sand beaches with families and surfers. 

Piha Beach is within walking distance from the previously mentioned Karekare beach but is far more well-known and touristy.

This beach is only half an hour from Auckland, so it can easily be done on a day trip.

In the middle of the beach is the famous Lion Rock, and behind sits a huge rainforest with lots of walking and hiking trails.

Besides its black sand, Piha beach is extremely popular with surfers, hosting competitions throughout the year, so this is where you should be if you love to catch a wave.

19- Mosteiros, the Azores

The Azores are Portugal’s lesser known but more stunning neighbour, filled with rainforests, volcanoes and lakes you would not expect to see in Europe.

Mosteiros is a fairly rocky black sand beach, although there are patches of soft sand where you can relax on one side, and it doesn’t get too busy if you visit during the week.

The beach is next to the village of Mosteiros, which has lots of restaurants, cafes and hotels so that you can enjoy this beach for as long as you like while having local food and accommodation nearby.

20- Spiazzia Lunga, Stromboli, Italy

black sand beach italy stromboli volcano
Stromboli is an active volcano that is part of the Aeolian Islands Archipelago, and the island is home to a black sand beach that has grown over thousands of years.

The island of Stromboli is home to an active volcano, so unsurprisingly, a black sand beach has formed here over thousands of years.

The sand is as jet black as it gets, but the beach is extremely popular with lots of lounge chairs and umbrellas which you can rent to spend the day relaxing here.

You can take some beautiful walks in the surrounding countryside, or for a different view of the island, go out on the water on a boat tour before returning to enjoy some classic Italian cooking.

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India Jayne trainor
India-Jayne Trainor is a British/Australian freelance writer, photographer and contributor to various online blogs and travel websites. She has travelled to almost 30 countries, most recently Cuba and Sri Lanka. Her work focuses on solo female travel, having spent two months backpacking alone through South East Asia as well as living in Germany for a year. Her favourite country to date has been Hong Kong, but she is happy in any country by the ocean. Her next destinations are Uzbekistan and a road trip through the American Mid-West. India is currently based in London, UK.