A beach holiday conjures up images of golden sands and turquoise waters – but if you’re looking to indulge your gothic side, you may want to check out a black sand beach instead.
Think black and dark grey-hued shores, exotic vegetation, and dark ocean waters that can make for a supernatural-esque setting.
These eye-catching beaches are located in destinations with volcanic landscape. Usually, they’re the result of volcanic materials being deposited into the sea, and being eroded and washed up on the shore forming the dark sands.
In some cases, it may even be a flow of lava that’s reached the ocean and exploded before cooling, causing the black shingles that form the shore.
They’re pretty incredible hotspots, and the best part is that you can go and see them for yourself (well, once travel re-opens properly).
Check out our top pick of the 10 most incredible black sand beaches around the world…
1. Reynisfjara Beach, Iceland
The black sands, jagged rocks and crashing waves make for a dramatic landscape at this beach by the small fishing village of Vik, hailed as one of Iceland’s most beautiful places.
Reynisfjara Beach can be reached by road so it’s easy to incorporate into a wider itinerary – just be aware that you’ll need to pay a small fee if you want to visit.
2. Honokalani Black Sand Beach, USA
Hawaii offers a number of black sand beaches, but Honokalani in Waianapanapa State Park is a particular highlight.
Expect a stark contrast between the black sands and the lush green vegetation that make up the scenery, while the nearby rocks, caves and even lava tubes never fail to wow visitors.
3. Black Sands Beach, USA
The Californian coast is better known for its golden sands and crystalline waters, but the landscape has a few tricks up its sleeve.
Head to the state’s ‘Lost Coast’ trail and on the southern end, you’ll find the majestic Black Sands Beach near Shelter Cove.
The beach itself isn’t actually sandy, but rather pebbled; the result of the waves crashing against the eye-catching black rock that create this hidden gem.
4. Playa Jardin, Tenerife
A black sands beach doesn’t need to be in a remote location – in fact in Tenerife, it’s a popular spot for both locals and tourists.
This urban beach was actually designed by César Manrique, and it’s surrounded by exotic gardens. Meanwhile, the nearby promenade offers access to heaps of bustling restaurants and bars, as well as children’s playgrounds.
5. Papenoo Beach, French Polynesia
Located on the island of Tahiti, Papenoo tends to be a popular spot for surfing as it’s quite exposed meaning there can be strong winds – so it’s not really one for those who plan to lay on a towel and soak up some rays.
Still, adventurers won’t be disappointed with the black shores and rugged landscape that make for a picture-perfect setting.
6. Punaluʻu, USA
One of Hawaii’s most famous black sand beaches, Punaluʻu looks like something out of a storybook with its black sands, coconut trees lining the shores and turquoise waters.
It’s also popular with animal lovers, as the beach is home to sea turtles (visitors are asked to stay away from these protected creatures, but you can observe from afar!).
7. Playa Negra, Puerto Rico
Playa Negra isn’t your typical black sand beach, as its darker hues come from the nearby Vieques’ volcanic areas – but when it doesn’t rain, there isn’t much material that makes its way to the beach.
That means that some days, the beach boasts a honey-toned shore, with streaks of dark black sand.
8. Karekare Beach, New Zealand
Slightly off the beaten track but still easily accessible from Auckland, Karekare tends to be a little quieter than some popular New Zealand spots.
However, with the towering cliffs, nearby waterfalls and large black sand dunes, it’s well worth including on the itinerary.
9. Kaimu Beach, Hawaii
Kaimu Beach may have black sands, but it also boasts some azure waters and lush green palm trees, making it a pretty photogenic location.
The beach itself is relatively new. In 1990, a nearby volcano erupted and a river of lava flowed down to the shoreline, burying the original beach with its lava. Only in recent years has the sand cooled and started to form a shoreline which can be visited.
10. Playa Bacacay, the Philippines
The Philippines may be renowned for their postcard-worthy white sand beaches, but if you’re after a spectacular sunset spot, then black sands on Playa Bacacay can make for a pretty unique experience.