The world's 20 best black sand beaches

By Lauren Cocking
July 03, 2018, 2:32:51 PM EDT

Black sand that loves to get down and dirty with your unmentionables doesn’t seem outwardly appealing and yet each year thousands of travelers flock to black sand beaches around the world.

Thanks to its heat-retaining tendencies, black sand is great when the temperature is down, but under the hot midday sun, it can be sole-blistering. Black sand beaches run the gamut from grainy volcano by-products to super soft grey charcoal. So if you’re intrigued by the idea of getting your hands (and feet) dirty in black sand, here are 20 of the world’s best starting points.

1. Reynisfjara
Where: Vík í Mýrdal, Iceland

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Sometimes known as the Vík Black Sand Beach because of its close proximity to the Icelandic fishing village of Vík í Mýrdal, Reynisfjara is one of Iceland’s wettest and warmest destinations. It was also ranked as one of the 10 most beautiful beaches on earth some years ago. This is no surprise given its pebble-dotted, gravel-like black sand appeal, bordered by impressive basalt stacks and army of puffins.

2. Black Sand Beach
Where: Alaska, USA

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(Photo/Jeremy W Moore/shutterstock)

There’s no need to travel internationally on the hunt for a world class black sand beach, although given that many visitors choose to arrive by kayak you might want to brush up on your paddling skills. Alaska’s inventively named Black Sand Beach rubs shoulders with glaciers (like the receding Coxe glacier) and seeing washed up mini icebergs hanging out on the sand isn’t uncommon.

3. Perissa Beach
Where: Santorini, Greece

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Perissa Beach in Santorini, Greece, is far from the region’s only charcoal shore (in fact, Santorini also has Perivolos and Kamari amongst its black sand repertoire). Fans of ruins and rocks will be in their element on Perissa though, thanks to it close proximity to Ancient Thera, which sits atop the Mesa Vouno rock.

4. Spiaggia Sabbie Nere
Where: Vulcano, Italy

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(Photo/Marco Molino/Flickr, [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0])

Just off the Sicilian coast lies a volcanic archipelago with a smattering of black sand beaches in its midst. While there are plenty of inky black beaches to choose from over the eight Aeolian Islands–including on Stromboli, which also plays host to an active volcano–the closer-to-the-coast Vulcano is the one visitors want to head for. On the charcoal sands of Spiaggia Sabbie Nere, travelers can indulge their inner beach-going-goth, while looking out over azure oceans.

5. Samyang Beach
Where: Jeju, South Korea

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(Photo/Future Hope/Shutterstock)

One of Korea’s more popular beaches thanks to a prime location right outside Jeju City, Samyang has developed a locally-held reputation for curative properties thanks to its black-when-wet shoreline. Samyang Black Sand Beach is worth a couple hours of your time.

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