The Most Colourful Beaches in the World

The Red Beach at Santorini island, Greece.
The Red Beach at Santorini island, Greece. | © photo_stella / Getty Images
Nicola Collins

Beaches aren’t everybody’s cup of tea when visiting new places. Many prefer to be out and about taking in the sights and exploring rather than relaxing on the sand or partaking in watersports. But what if the beach was a beach with a difference? Providing a perfect photo opportunity, that certainly wouldn’t require any filtering, these are some of the most unusually coloured beaches around the world.

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1. Ramla Bay, Gozo

Natural Feature

Ramla Bay
© Jochen Tack / Alamy Stock Photo

Not to be confused with Ramla Bay in Malta, it’s Malta’s sister island in Gozo that is home to Ramla Bay, popular for its glowing red-orange coloured sand. Set in northern Gozo between the villages of Nadhur and Xaghra, the best way to reach Ramla Bay is via Nadhur’s main road. Although this is the largest and most popular beach in Gozo and is frequented by Gozitans and tourists alike, it is never overcrowded, even in high season. If the sand isn’t eye-catching enough, the beach also has a statue of Holy Mary holding a baby Jesus, paying tribute to the Gozitan’s strong religious beliefs. Take a walk up to the purpose-built viewing gallery, close to Calypso Cave, and take in the impressive views all in one location.

2. Papakōlea Beach

Natural Feature

Papakōlea Beach or Green sand beach
© Praveen P.N / Getty Images

One of a mere four green sand beaches in the world, Papakōlea Beach is located at the south point of Hawaii’s Big Island and is enclosed in a cinder cone of the Mauna Loa volcano. Also known as Mahana Beach and The Green Sand Beach, there is only one way to reach the rich green sands, and that is via a somewhat rugged trek. However, the sight before you makes it worth your while. The cylinder cone formed approximately 49,000 years ago and it is from the olivine-rich lava that once poured out that the green sand is produced. The beach trapped the olivine crystals, which are coarse and dense and cover the beach, giving the green appearance. The locals commonly refer to this unique sand as “Hawaiian Diamond” and on close inspection, it is easy to see why.

3. Balos Beach, Crete

Natural Feature

Balos lagoon in Crete island Greece
© Mariusz Pietranek / Getty Images
If you want to feel like you are in the Carribean but without the jet lag, head to Balos Beach on the northwestern side of Crete. Completely secluded, it has soft sand and cerulean water and has retained its pristine beauty, despite being popular. The islet of Gramvoussa with its Venetian castle is nearby if you want to do some exploring. The sand here differs slightly depending on where you are on the beach. Complemented by the azure waters, the sand can be almost pure white in places and delectable pink in others. The pink sand is merely due to thousands upon thousands of crushed seashells. However, when this is spread across large areas such as here, the photo opportunities are priceless.

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4. Red Beach

Natural Feature

The volcanic Red Beach on the Greek Island of Santorini.
© oversnap / Getty Images
Arguably the most impressive beach in Greece, the Red Beach is located very near the Akrotiri ancient site. If you plan on visiting the island during summer, be aware of the fact that the island gets easily crowded given the size of the beach. But if you do not mind lying on a towel next to a stranger, then you will surely have a blast. If not, try to visit the island outside the peak period. The red pebbly sand makes the Red Beach not the most of comfortable of beaches but being surrounded by deep red, almost burgundy cliffs makes the short hike to reach the beach worth your while.

Our eight-day island-hopping Epic Trip in Greece spends the last two days on the beautiful island of Santorini.

5. Hyams Beach

Natural Feature

Hyams beach in New South Wales, Australia
© Roman Skorzus / Getty Images
This has to be visited to be believed. White sandy beaches with bright aqua water. It’s only three hours from busy Sydney but feels like a whole world away. Hyams Beach is said to have the whitest sands in the world and is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records to prove it. Nothing short of a paradise for relaxing and enjoying the clear waters. A perfect place to be at one with nature where visitors can enjoy a spot of whale-watching from the sands or visit the Booderee National Park that surrounds the beach itself.

6. Reynisfjara Beach

Natural Feature

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
© Daniel Viñé Garcia / Getty Images

As far as stunning locations go, Reynisfjara Beach is close to perfection. Lying next to a small fishing village named Vík í Mýrdal, this beach was used as one of the locations for Game of Thrones. The unusual black sand throughout the beach is enclosed by natural formations of basalt rock columns, towering cliffs, caves and volcanic structures. The black sand derives from volcanic lava hitting the surrounding cold Atlantic ocean and instantly cooling to form what is today known as the black sand. Rather than fine, the sand here has a coarse and pebbly consistency, not too unlike gravel and making Reynisfjara Beach more of a sight-seeing place rather than a sunbathing one. Like stepping into another world, it is hard to believe that this black sand beach was purely formed naturally.

A visit to this otherworldly natural phenomenon is part of our five-day Epic Trip in Iceland.

7. Glass Beach

Natural Feature

Colourful glass pebbles blanket this beach in Fort Bragg.
© Charles Wollertz / Alamy Stock Photo
Fort Bragg, CA, is home to the unique and beautiful Glass Beach. This spot was once a dumping ground for local residents to throw various discarded objects. The space was later closed to the public for cleanup in 1967, and over time the waves smoothed out the discarded objects until they became the tiny, colourful knick-knacks that they are today.

Check out our top trips for beach therapy or browse our full collection of premium small-group adventures.

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