A crash course in the formation of black sand beaches

Black Sand Beaches

White sand beach Trinidad

White sand beach Trinidad

Somewhere in most tropical vacation fantasies you will find a white, golden sand beach complete with palm trees, crystal clear water, and tall tropical drinks with tiny
umbrellas. The little known black sand beach is often nowhere in this picture. However, for ecotourism enthusiasts, and travelers just looking for a change from the typical tropical vacation fair, the beauty of black sand beaches have become more recognized as a wonderful alternative.


Have you ever wondered what causes such a striking difference in the appearance of black sand vs. white sand beaches? This results from the fact that black sand beaches are formed very differently from their white sand counterparts which are coral in origin. Here’s a crash course in black sand beach formation:

Black sand beaches are volcanic in origin. Hot lava flows into the sea and turns black upon contact with the cooling effect of the water. As it cools it breaks up into smaller fragments. The constant pounding of the surf and waves over time causes these fragments to form smaller and smaller particles, until sand is produced. The development of this sand is also encouraged by the steam explosions which occur when the water and the hot lava meet.

The size of sand particles may very significantly from quite coarse to finer grains depending on the location. The color of the sand may also differ from light grey to charcoal black, even on the same stretch of beach. But regardless of the exact color, black sand beaches are truly breathtaking.

Black sand beaches can be found in more places and closer to home than you may think. These include Polynesia, Indonesia, Hawaii, Iceland, and the Caribbean islands of Dominica, St Lucia, Grenada, St. Vincent and Puerto Rico.

Written by Kim Phillips

Experience black sand beaches in a premiere ecotourism
in the Caribbean, Dominica.


Share this article on