When someone says “beach” you probably think of yellow or white sand, rolling waves, bright sunlight and a beer or fruity cocktail. But beaches come in far more different shapes and colors than some of us might have expected. Here are 17 beaches that, in one way or another, might not be anything like the beaches you’re used to.

One of the most striking differences in many of these beaches are the different sand colors. Sand is generally formed out of whatever the waves happen to be banging against the shore, be they rocks, shells, corals, or glass. Rare green beaches can contain olivine, which is a remnant of volcanic eruptions, and black beaches are also generally formed by volcanic remnants. The pink beaches of Bermuda are colored by coral remnants. [30 photos total]

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1
Unique Glass Beach in California #
2
The glass beach near Fort Bragg in California formed after the trash dumped there for years by local residents was pounded into sand by the surf. The dumping was eventually prohibited, but the glass sand remains. (Image credits: digggs.) #
3
Hidden beach in Marieta, Mexico (Image credits: dailymail.co.uk) #
4
This beach in Mexico is said to have formed after the Mexican government used the uninhabited islands for target practice in the 1900s. (Image credits: Miguel Naranjo.) #
5
Maldives Beach That Looks Like Starry Night Sky (Image credits: Will Ho) #
6
The lights on this beach in the Maldives are caused by microscopic bioluminescent phytoplankton, which give off light when they are agitated by the surf. (Image credits: Will Ho. ) #
7
The Beach of the Cathedrals, Ribadeo, Spain The stunning cathedral-like arches and buttresses of this beach in Spain were formed by pounding water over thousands upon thousands years. (Image credits: imgur.com. ) #
8
Pink Sand Beach, Bahamas (Image credits: greenglobe.travel) #
9
The idyllic pink sand of the Bahamas is pigmented by washed-up coral remnants, which are dashed and ground to tiny pieces by the surf. (Image credits: luxuo.com.) #
10
Extreme Plane Landings at Maho Beach, Saint Martin (Image credits: Benny Zheng) #
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(Image credits: Kent Miller) #
12
Jokulsarlon, Iceland (Image credits: Manisha Desai) #
13
The black volcanic sand on this Icelandic beach contrasts beautifully with the white and glassy chunks of ice. (Image credits: D-P Photography. ) #
14
The Moeraki Boulders (Dragon Eggs) In Koekohe Beach, New Zealand (Image credits: Gerald Guerubin) #
15
(Image credits: Farkul J) #
16
The boulders on this New Zealand beach are concretions – balls of sedimentary rock harder than the sedimentary earth that formed around them, which has long since washed away. These boulders get uncovered and smoothed by pounding waves. (Image credits: arikairflight.blogspot.com. ) #
17
Green Sand In Kourou, French Guiana (Image credits: Arria Belli) #
18
Papakōlea Green Sand Beach, Hawaii (Image credits: paradisepin.com) #
19
The green sand on this beach in Hawaii is caused by the mineral olivine, which is formed by lava as it cools in the sea. (Image credits: Mark Ritter. ) #
20
Giants Causeway Beach, Ireland (Image credits: Michael) #
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The giant’s causeway was formed 50-60 million years ago when basalt lava rose to the surface and cooled, cracking into strange, large columns. (Image credits: Stefan Klopp. ) #
22
Punaluu Black Sand Beach, Hawaii (Image credits: hawaiitopten.com) #
23
The black sand on Punaluu is formed by basalt lava, which explodes as it flows into the sea and rapidly cools. (Image credits: poco a poco. ) #
24
Red Sand Beach, Rabida, Galapagos (Image credits: unknown) #
25
The red sand at Rabida was formed due to the oxidization of iron-rich lava deposits, although it could also be due to washed-up coral sediments. (Image credits: Robert Peternel.) #
26
Shell Beach, Shark Bay, Australia The water near Shell Beach in Australia is so saline that the cockle clam has been able to proliferate unchecked by its natural predators. It is this abundance of molluscs that floods the beaches with their shells. (Image credits: australiascoralcoast.com. ) #
27
Pfeiffer Purple Sand Beach, California (Image credits: Tom Grubbe | dfmead) #
28
The purple sand at this beach (which is only found in patches) is formed when manganese garnet deposits in the surrounding hills erode into the sea. (Image credits: irene joy. ) #
29
Vik Beach, Iceland Iceland is a land with a lot of volcanic activity, which is why black volcanic beaches are so common there. (Image credits: Stephan Amm.) #
30
Cave Beach in Algarve, Portugal The Algarve coast consists of limestone, which is easily eroded and can form stunning sea caves like this one. (Image credits: Bruno Carlos.) #

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