Beach vacations are the perfect way to spend a sunny day and take a mental break from the everyday quirks and stressors of city or suburban life. They allow us to relax and interact with the beauty of an unforgettable landscape. But have you ever traveled to a destination known for its jet-black sand instead of the typical white sand?
Across the globe, there are a variety of getaway spots known for their unique black beaches. Tourists everywhere pack their bags to these picturesque locations for the experience of a lifetime. These beaches line the Hawaiian islands, as well as many other locales around the world.
If you’re looking to lounge on a serene black sand beach and experience the many exciting activities that come with each one, you’ve come to the right place. Read on for the ultimate travel guide to all things black sand beaches and how to make your vacation one to remember.
What Is a Black Sand Beach?
If you are expecting to see only a few grains of black sand when you visit a black sand Beach, you are going to have the surprise of a lifetime. Fully black sand beaches provide a beautiful contrast against the bright blue ocean and the tropical foliage that surrounds it.
Because the grains of sand that make up a beach can come from many different places of origin, a black sand beach can be created in many different ways. The most common form of black sand is made of volcanic minerals and lava flow. This is why many of the black sand beaches in the country are found on the Hawaiian islands, including the world-famous Punalu'u Beach on the Big Island.
The qualities of black sand beaches will vary depending on location and can include a rocky shoreline or stripes of minerals in the sand. Regardless of which beach you visit and what you see, you are guaranteed to have a unique and picturesque experience.
1. Lafayette Beach, Tahiti
While Tahiti has the highest quantity of black sand beaches, Lafayette is by far the fan favorite. It’s best known for its peaceful qualities, with soft, dark sand, bright blue waves, and grassy cliffs with lush vegetation surrounding the beach. Because of the vegetation, this beach feels quiet and reserved, perfect for an afternoon of rest, relaxation, and a tropical hang.
Once you are ready to rinse off after a few hours of sunbathing, hop in the warm water. The conditions are perfect practically year-round, making it nearly impossible not to spend hours swimming and splashing around. You just might see some green sea turtles along the way!
Lafayette Beach is located on the main island of Tahiti, giving you access to nearby attractions and hot spots. The beach sits next to Papeete, which is the capital of French Polynesia. To get the proper feel for the city, stroll around the waterfront to mingle with tourists and locals and admire the city's beauty.
For a taste of the city’s cuisine, grab a seat at one of Papeete’s “Roulottes,” which are areas that hold a collection of different food trucks. You can try a sampling of local picks and feel the warm night breeze in their outdoor seating area. This is another wonderful way to meet locals and get recommendations for the rest of your trip.
2. Playa Jardin, Canary Islands
Playa Jardin’s picturesque atmosphere is the reason why it’s been coined as one of the best black sand beaches in the world. With colorful flora and active waves, this Spanish paradise belongs on everyone’s itinerary.
Even while walking to the beach, you’ll be greeted with pathways lined with beautiful tropical flowers. Additionally, Playa Jardin is divided into three sections, and they are all connected by impressive gardens and terraces.
The beach is also known for offering a variety of activities. If you enjoy getting in the water, you can surf on the impressive waves or swim in the pool created by a lateral breakwater. So, whether you’re trying to catch some waves or make ink-colored sandcastles with the kids, Playa Jardin has you covered.
Located in Puerto de la Cruz, Playa Jardin gives you access to plenty of nearby attractions. If you are looking for a hike and a view all in one, head up to the Martianez cliffs. Here you will find plenty of lookout points that give you sweeping views of the beautiful black beaches that line the city and the impressive skyline.
If you are visiting during Carnival, you can join in the celebration by watching colorful parades, dancing in the street with locals, and trying a sampling of local and festive food. Just be sure to buy some festive attire to really fit in with the crowds.
3. Karekare Beach, New Zealand
Located a few miles outside of Auckland, Karekare Beach is a charcoal-colored slice of heaven. To photograph dramatic and stunning views of black sand set against rocky cliffs and a cool blue ocean, Karekare Beach will have you covered. Because of the intense waves, this basalt beach isn’t famous for its swim offerings. However, it is a cozy seaside ideal for reading a book or dipping your toes in the water.
The moodiness of the beach and the large waves in the ocean make this a great option for year-round beach trips. In the summertime, you can lay on the black sand in your favorite two-piece swimsuit and soak in the sun while listening to the waves crash. In the winter, you can bundle up in a cozy sweater and sit in your beach chair while sipping a cup of hot tea and admiring the view.
Karekare Beach sits 35 kilometers from Auckland city center and right next to another black sand beach, giving you options for other activities.
In fact, the beach next to Karekare, Piha Beach, is known for its pristine surfing conditions. The waves here are fairly large, but they still offer lessons for beginners if you want to cross standing up on a surfboard off of your bucket list. (Just make sure you wear something that won’t slip down when you fall. A reliable one-piece suit is your best bet.)
There are countless activities and experiences to check out in Auckland, but we recommend seeing the sky tower, exploring the night markets, and shopping on Ponsonby Road.
4. Playa Negra, Puerto Rico
A mixture of volcanic rock runoff and grains from the nearby rocky cliffs make up the beautiful remote dark sand beach of Playa Negra in Puerto Rico. Depending on when you visit, you may see stretches of sand that are entirely black or a mixture of white and black.
The black sand is caused by volcanic runoff, so there is no way to know what the beach will look like when you visit, which makes it a fun and exciting surprise. Sandy cliffs topped with lush vegetation lines the beach, providing a wonderful backdrop for your beach day.
Also known as La Playa Negrita, this fine sand Caribbean destination is great for walking on the shore and tan cliffs.
Full of natural treasures, Vieques is a wonderful spot to connect with nature and explore the natural beauty of Puerto Rico. Located on the same island as Playa Negra is the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge, which occupies more than 60% of Vieques’ total land mass.
Here you can explore mangroves, hiking trails, and bays. There is truly something for everyone to experience here, including hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, paddle boarding, and horseback riding.
For an experience unique to Vieques, take a kayak out on Mosquito Bay and float across the bioluminescent water illuminated by dinoflagellates. These microorganisms flash a blue-green light when disturbed, giving the water a totally magical look.
5. Lovina Beach, Bali
The gray and black sands of Lovina Beach in Bali are soft and inviting, and the water is warm and calm enough for a variety of water activities. Spread across seven tiny towns, this volcanic sand beach is a prime location for delicious eats at local cafes, pleasant swims, and adventurous snorkeling.
However, the main attraction of this beach are the pods of dolphins that call this coast their home. Book a trip out on the water in a Jukun, a traditional Indonesian boat.
Pods of dolphins come splashing near the boats during the morning hours, just as the sunrise light hits the water. The pods of dolphins and colorful reef barriers that sit close to the sand allow tourists to interact with the regional wildlife and enjoy remarkable views.
Lovina Beach sits only nine kilometers from Singaraja, the capital city of the Buleleng Regency. For an unforgettable view of a majestic waterfall falling through the lush green foliage, be sure to visit the Sekumpul Waterfall. The trail to the viewpoint of this waterfall is relatively challenging, passing through rough terrain, but the panoramic view is worth it.
For a more relaxing water experience, head over to the Banjar Hot Springs. The water that sits in these springs are originally from a volcano, which explains the hot-tub-like temperatures. This is the perfect place to relax your muscles, center your mind, and take in the gorgeous forested views.
6. Miho No Matsubara Beach, Japan
Ever wanted to see Mount Fuji while walking along a pitch-black shoreline? Then Miho No Matsubara beach in Japan is the place for you.
This dark, rocky beach is known for its scenic views and outdoor activities. The beach is lined with 54,000 pine trees, giving it a stunning and unique landscape. Unsurprisingly, this beach has inspired artists to recreate it in paintings and carvings.
After admiring your surroundings, you will have the chance to hop in the water and choose between a variety of water activities. This coastline provides the proper conditions for windsurfing, kayaking, swimming, diving, and fishing.
It may not be the first name to pop up when looking for a black beach getaway, but it’s one that’s definitely worth checking off your bucket list. As soon as you pull up in the parking lot, you’ll be in awe.
Miho no Matsubara Beach is located in Shizuoka, which is known best for being the home to Mt. Fuji and for producing the largest production of Japanese green tea. If you are feeling a little too sunkissed from your day at the beach, you can explore the Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art.
Stroll through the halls and wings of the museum as you pass by iconic landscape art created by both Eastern and Western artists. Keep your eyes peeled for paintings by Monet, Gauguin, Taikan Yokoyama, and Jackuchu Ito.
To feel immersed in the local culture, be sure to add the Fujisan Hongu Sengen Taisha Shrine to your itinerary. This beautiful landmark was built over 1,000 years ago for protection from volcanic eruptions. However, it has since become the head shrine of over 1300 Sengen and Asama shrines nationwide.
Other Beautiful Black Sand Beaches To Explore
These aren’t the only famous black sand beaches out there! Below are a few more to check out on your next vacation:
- Waianapanapa State Park - Hana, Maui, Hawaii
- Punaluu Beach - Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
- Reynisfjara, Iceland
- Black Sands - Shelter Cove (San FranciscoBay Area), near the Golden Gate Bridge
- Perissa Beach - Santorini, Greece
What To Pack
Now that you have your black beach destination picked out, it’s time to start packing!
Packing your supplies for a black sand beach does not differ dramatically from packing for a white sand beach. However, there are a few crucial differences that you should be prepared for.
First, and most importantly, black sand holds heat more intensely than white sand, which can mean it is too hot to walk across. Be sure to pack a pair of sturdy sandals that you can wear on the beach, on your way to the water, and back to your beach chair.
Additionally, the paths to black-sand beaches can be a little rougher than paths to white-sand beaches, so wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes and protective clothing on your way to the beach.
Speaking of the proper clothing, be sure to have your beachwear ready to go! The only rule when packing your swimwear for the beach is to pack something that will make you feel comfortable and confident.
However, if you plan on partaking in a water activity or a post-beach hike, maybe opt for a full coverage and supportive option, like a tankini or a one-piece.
Time To Explore
If you are looking to switch up your next vacation that includes sunbathing, long walks on the beach, and water activities, add a black beach to your destination list. Besides the unique and picturesque views, visiting a black sand beach will most likely introduce you to a new part of the world that you might not have visited otherwise.
We hope that this list inspires you to book your next black sand beach vacation. If not, maybe these comfortable and chic suits from Andie Swim will further persuade you to buy that plane ticket.