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These Trippy Colorful Beaches Come In Every Shade

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Note: We know COVID-19 is impacting travel plans right now. For a little inspiration, we’ll continue to share stories from our favorite places around the world so you can keep daydreaming about your next adventure.

When we daydream about travel, sandy beaches are typically top of mind. But as you picture yourself laid out on distant shores, keep in mind that Mother Nature’s not some one-trick landscape artist: Around the world, beaches forgo the golden sands most of us picture for something much more eye-popping.

These standouts represent a palate of colors ranging the full spectrum of the rainbow. They’re the result of everything from rich mineral deposits to crushed sealife and even discarded trash.  If life is, indeed, a beach then let these uniquely-hued wonders inspire you to lead the most vibrant lives imaginable. While laying in the sun, of course.

Red Beach, Santorini

Santorini, Greece

Rust-colored sand in an ancient Greek paradise

Along the southern edge of Santorini Island, an easy 15-minute hike separates the roadway from this stunning study in contrast. Rust-colored earth meets cerulean sea underneath a sheer cliff-face of volcanic origin — a natural landmark known locally as Red Beach (Kokkini Paralia, locally). The depth of the respective red and blue is difficult to resist, even if the rocky shore isn’t ideal for prolonged sunbathing, nude or otherwise. Lack of powder sands aside, you could easily spend the better part of a day snorkeling through this shallow and serene bay abutting the Aegean Sea.

Spiaggia Rosa

Spiaggia Rosa, Italy

Where “rosé all day” is a natural phenomenon

Budelli is a private, Mediterranean paradise off the northern coast of Sardinia. Reachable only by boat, the island is renowned for the rosé-tinged shores of Spiaggia Rosa. The sand is the result of coral and crystal endemic to the region, which has been broken down over the eons. Up until the middle parts of the 20th century, it was actually even more pink than it is today, but tourists started plundering the prized earth and the Italian government was eventually forced to shutter the beach in 1994. Today you can sail super close to its shores. Setting foot on the sand, however, is illegal.

Ramla Bay, Malta

Ramla Bay, Malta

Bright-orange shores not even Odysseus could resist
Along the northern terminus of Malta’s main island, you’ll find this legendary stretch of sand which supposedly makes a cameo in The Odyssey. The thick shoreline here is caked in a dark golden shade, which glints orange during the beginning and end of each day, the result of a combination of native corals and oxidized limestone deposits. Follow a path to a hillside flanking its eastern edge and you’ll find Calypso Cave. Its eponymous nymph, described in Homer’s epic poem, was said to have sidetracked Ulysses for a full seven years before he finally resumed his journey. While that’s a bit lengthy of a vacation for most, you’ll have no problems being enchanted for a seven-day haul in this overlooked oasis.

Papakōlea Beach

Papakōlea, Hawaii

Go green on the Big Island
Papakōlea is one of only four green-sand beaches in the world (the others are Talofofo Beach in Guam, Punta Cormorant in the Galapagos, and Hornindalsvatnet in Norway). The trailhead to reach it is right near the marker denoting the southernmost point in the country, and from there you’ll have to hoof it across a 2-mile dirt path before arriving at an impressive cinder-cone remnant. The last eruption here was more than 49,000 years ago, and resulted in dense deposits of a green mineral known as olivine, which lends the destination its telltale characteristic. A crescent-shaped cove wraps around the dark emerald beach, forming an ideal sanctuary for swimming. Be forewarned: the roundtrip journey requires about 2 hours of trekking. And you’ll need to scurry down narrow stairs in the rock before setting foot on the sand.

Pfeiffer Beach

Pfeiffer Beach, California

Purple sand is the least dramatic thing here
The craggy outcrops of this dramatic coastline are so captivating, you might not even notice the natural wonder directly underneath your feet. Manganese-rich garnet, eroding over time from the surrounding cliffside, forms ribbons of plum- and lavender-hued sand where rocky slopes meet the sea. Taken alongside the gargantuan boulder rising from the sea, it’s downright surreal, but there’s more: At the center of that boulder is Keyhole Arch. Plan your trip during late December through early January and Mother Nature will put on an extra special show for you, when the sun sets directly through the hole in the rock. For purple mountain majesties, indeed.

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, Iceland

Reynisfjara, Iceland

Where the world becomes a real-life photo negative

One of the most impressive natural attractions in a country known for its natural attractions, Reynisfjara’s midnight black-sand is just part of its otherworldly beauty. From this vantage point you can gaze out over nearby sea stacks, towering into the air like some ancient answer to a skyscraper. Against the shore are hexagonal columns of basalt, relics of the regions bygone volcanism that the agile adventurer will enjoy scaling. The nearest town — Vik (population 318) — is a ten minute drive away, yet despite the beach’s relative seclusion it has grown quite prominent in recent years as the alien backdrop for scenes in everything from Star Wars to Game of Thrones.

Tjornuvik, Faroe Islands

Tjørnuvik, Faroe Islands

Gray sands at the feet of 200-foot titans

There is remote, then there’s Faroe Islands. A rugged string of pearls equidistant from Iceland and Scotland, this archipelago somehow fuses the idyllic enchantment of both countries into one phantasmagoric whole. It is as close to Middle-earth as you’ll find on actual Earth, and the seaside village of Tjørnuvik is its Shire. A collection of two dozen or so grass-roofed huts hug the foot of a verdant valley where a wide swath of sand — a mixture of weathered basalt along with pulverized shell fragments — meets the North Atlantic. From this improbable cove you’re afforded prime viewing of Risin and Kellingin. Translated into “the giant and the witch,” these anthropomorphized rock formations soar some 200 feet into the sky. Yet they are effortlessly dwarfed by the adjacent edge of Eysturoy, an isle boasting some of the tallest sea cliffs in all of Europe.

HYAMS BEACH

Hyams Beach, Australia

Welcome to the world’s whitest beach
About 120 miles south of Sydney, along the edge of Jervis Bay, you’ll find this near-blinding stretch of beach, composed entirely of powdered quartz. If it looks brighter than just about any other shore you’ve ever seen, don’t blame your imagination: The Guinness Book of Records has actually awarded the sand here distinction as whitest in the world. But the superlative shading doesn’t just stop at water’s edge. The waves here are also a brilliant hue of turquoise, setting an overall scene that’s impossible for tanning tourists to resist. To maximize your share of sand, make sure to arrive during the off-season between May and September.

Panjin

Panjin, China

A sea of crimson on a massive marshland

In the northeastern province of Liaoning, less than a hundred miles from the North Korean border, you’ll find this head-scratching natural marvel known as Red Beach. Its name is something of a misnomer.:Yes, it is as red as anything you’ll ever see, but it’s not sand you’re looking at, nor is it a beach you’re standing on. Panjin is actually set amid the largest marshland on the planet. And its otherworldly aura is owed to the proliferation of the native Sueda, a “seepweed” that thrives within the coastal soil. Every autumn the flora erupts in brilliant bursts of crimson. It’s a month-long show that draws admirers from far and wide despite the remoteness of the region.

Glass Beach, Fort Bragg

Fort Bragg, California

Stroll along a rainbow made of broken glass

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. If you need proof, hike your way through MacKerricher State Park. Along Northern California’s Mendocino Coast, a literal dumpsite of the mid-20th Century has evolved into the area’s most unlikely attraction. Glass Beach might be a man-made accident, but sometimes nature likes to make her own reclaimed art. Decades worth of tidal movement has worn away at discarded bottles, rounding them into smooth ingots of brown, green, auburn, and white. Through the motion of the waves — as well as pilfering tourists — this silica-based detritus is diminishing at a rapid clip. So while this diamond in the rough sits at the bottom of our list, if you want to see it while it lasts, it should actually be near the top of yours.

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