Real Beaches That Don’t Need an Instagram Filter

October 21, 2015
Kayla Bernardino
5 min read

One of our Wetravel bloggers, Kayla Bernardino, compiled some awesome photos of beaches that literally look photoshopped.

A few of them she even visited herself! Seeing these crazy-colored beaches will make you think someone edited the photos with some sort of Instagram filter. Keep reading to see the rainbow of beaches.

The Rainbow of Beaches

When you think of summer days at the beach, I’m sure you imagine frolicking in warm brown or white sand. For you fellow beach bums, I’m here to tell you that it gets better, and you have Mother Nature to thank for that.

Keep reading for your ROYGBIV of beach sand.


I’ve had the opportunity to see two black sand beaches so far. The first was at Wai’anapanapa State Beach in Maui three years ago, and the other was at Punalu’u Beach on the Big Island earlier this year. Wai’anapanapa was less like sand and consisted more of small pebbles, while Punalu’u’s sand was like ground coffee in my hands. As a heads-up, you can often see Hawaiian green sea turtles at Punalu’u!

A result of the eroded basaltic lava of nearby volcanoes, black sand is absolutely incredible. Keep in mind that it can get pretty hot though, since black absorbs the sun’s heat better.

Wai’anapanapa State Beach along the “Road to Hana.” (Photo by Kayla Bernardino)
Punalu’u Beach between Pāhala and Nāʻālehu. (Photo by Kayla Bernardino)


Along the same route to Maui’s Wai’anapanapa State Beach is another one of Hawaii’s hidden gems: a red sand beach. I’ve only heard of one other red sand beach, Kokkini Beach on the Greek island of Santorini, but correct me if you know of any others.

Here, the reddish color results from the iron that is eroded from the nearby cinder cone volcano. The contrasting colors of red and blue were quite a sight to see. (Note: There were actually a lot of danger signs on the hike down to the cove, and as my cousin and I later learned, we had actually crossed private property. Oops… #LiveAndLearn #NoPlanning)

Red Sand Beach on Kaihalulu Bay.


The reward of a 5.3-mile hike on the Big Island of Hawaii, Papakolea Beach is home to some gorgeous olive green sand (resulting from the mineral olivine). According to my trusty friend Wikipedia, there are only four green sand beaches in the entire world, the other three being at Talafofo Beach in Guam, Punta Cormorant in the Galapagos, and Hornindalsvatnet, Norway.

I’d say it’s well worth the hike; however, if that’s not really your thing, don’t fret. A lot of locals use their trucks to shuttle people back and forth from the parking lot for a low price. I hiked down and then caught a lift back because it was way too hot. Just don’t forget to bring a snack or two (papayas preferred), since you’re pretty far from civilization.

Green sand and a papaya, fresh from our AirBnB at Bebo’s Kona Coffee Farm.

Now we get to the beaches I still have to see for myself…


At Ramla Bay in Malta (an island in the Mediterranean Sea), there apparently exists an orange sand beach! The colors are said to be a result of the combination of golden limestone and volcanic ash. I’m slightly concerned that photos online might be photoshopped, which was the case when comparing my Papakolea Beach photos to the ones on Google.

To confirm, someone please book me a flight to Europe. 😉

Crazy Orange Sand #nofilter
Image source:


Unbeknownst to me before this summer, Pfeiffer Beach (along the Big Sur coastline in California) is occasionally home to sands of a purplish hue. I use the term ‘occasionally’ because reviews are pretty mixed regarding the color. Some say it’s pretty subtle, while others rave about a stunning near-magenta color.

Regardless, Big Sur as a whole is spectacular and will not disappoint, even if the purple sand is a farce. I highly recommend camping if you have the chance!

Do note that the Pfeiffer Beach is easy to miss. In fact, I was just in Big Sur this past May and missed the opportunity to verify the color for myself. My advice is to look up how to get there ahead of time (especially because you might find yourself without service). A quick Google search will give you the exact coordinates/mile markers to keep an eye out for.

Rainbow Sand of Big Sur
Image Source: Eric N. of Yelp


No, I’m not kidding. According to other travel enthusiasts, you can find pink sand beaches on Harbour Island in the Bahamas, Anse Source D’Argent in Seychelles, Komodo National Park in Indonesia, and Balos Lagoon in Crete… not to mention Elbow Beach, Church Bay, Shelly Bay, and John Smith’s Bay in Bermuda.

The color is apparently due to “calcium carbonate materials left behind by foraminifera (tiny marine creatures with red and pink shells) that live in the coral reefs that surround the beach” (Source: FoxNews). Whatever the cause, I’m sure it’s beautiful!

Image source:

There you have it– more things to add to your Travel To-Do-List. What are you waiting for? Grab some friends, and get to work on that trip planning.