Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Photos: The World's Most Colorful Beaches

The classic beach scene is beige sand, blue water. Yawn. On these nine beaches, you'll find sand ranging from purple to green to orange, plus one beach that showcases 74 different hues—all at once.

Guess why Papakōlea Beach, on the southern tip of Hawaii's Big Island, is more commonly referred to as Green Sand Beach.

Papakōlea Beach's sand is made of tiny olivine crystals from the surrounding lava rocks that are trapped in the 49,000 year-old Pu'u Mahana cinder cone by the waters of Mahana Bay

You can take the two-mile hike along the southernmost point in the U.S.A. for a glimpse of the uniquely olive-green sand.

 The colorful red sand of Santorini's Kokkini Beach is a result of the surrounding iron-rich black and red lava rocks left over from the ancient volcanic activity of Thira, the impressive volcano that erupted and essentially shaped the island in 1450 B.C

 Kokkini Beach is set at the base of giant red cliffs that rise high over crystal-blue Mediterranean waters.

 It's best to visit Kokkini in the early morning hours—the sand heats up under the warm Mediterranean sun.

 What makes this Pink Sand Beach in the Bahamas so pink? Thousands of broken coral pieces, shells, and calcium carbonate materials left behind by foraminifera (tiny marine creatures with red and pink shells)

 Many beaches on Harbour Island in the Bahamas have rosy sand.

 New Zealand's stunning Muriwai Black Sand Beach is a 37-mile stretch of sparkling black sand.

 Black sand beaches are typically a result of an island's explosive volcanic past—the rich color is a result of a mixture of iron, titanium, and several other volcanic materials.

Just a 40-minute ride west of downtown Auckland, Muriwai Black Sand Beach is an easy day trip.

 Head to the northern coastline of Pfeiffer Beach, in Big Sur, CA, where patches of violet and deep-purple sand can be found

 The source for the purple sand at Pfeiffer Beach is large deposits of quartz and manganese garnet originating in the nearby hills being washed down from the creek to its final resting place along the Pacific.

 The northern corner of Italy's island of Sardinia is home to Porto Ferro, a stretch of oddly orange-colored sand thanks to a unique mixture of the area's native orange limestone, crushed shells, and other volcanic deposits.

 This area of Sardinia is also known for its scenic bike and hiking paths, and three Spanish lookout towers that date back to the 1600s

 This pristine area of Sardinia is also a popular spot for diving, surfing, and windsurfing.

 There are 74 different hues in the sand at Australia's Rainbow Beach, a clandestine combination of erosion and iron oxide buildup that has been occurring since the last ice age.

 According to an ancient Aboriginal legend, the sands at Rainbow Beach are a result of the rainbow spirit falling onto the large beachside cliffs after losing a battle over a beautiful woma

 Rainbow Beach is a three-hour drive north of Brisbane on the Sunshine Coast of northeast Queensland.

 It's worth the trip to California's remote Shelter Cove to see the gray-colored sand, the result of years of erosion of the nearby gray-shale cliffs along the shore.

 Shelter Cove is also known for its scenic coastal drives, hikes, and an abundant source of wildlife at the nearby 68,000-acre King Range National Conservation Area

 Shelter Cove is along "The Lost Coast" just above Mendocino County and about an hour south of Humboldt Redwoods State Park

 The sand doesn't get much whiter than at Crescent Beach, located on Florida's Siesta Key.

 The sand along Florida's Crescent Beach is 99 percent pure quartz, which has traveled down Florida's rivers from the Appalachian Mountains

 The best part about Crescent Beach's sand: Not only does it feel like you're walking through powdered sugar, but it will never heat up no matter how hot the Florida sun beats down