There’s something undeniably pleasing about the combination of pink sand under your feet, deep blue sky above you, and sparkling turquoise sea surrounding you. Pink sand beaches are pretty rare around the world, as the conditions have to be just right to create them.
Usually, these rose-hued stretches of sand are created by millions of pieces of shattered coral and shells, particularly the pinkish-red shell of the microorganism foraminifera, just a minute fraction of an inch long.
Beaches at the redder end of the spectrum may have obtained their color because of the presence of iron or other minerals in the rocks. Whatever shade of blush intrigues you, here are ten exquisite pink sand beaches to seek out around the world.
Horseshoe Bay Beach, Bermuda
Bermuda is perhaps one of the most famous spots in the world for pink sand. The wide sweep of Horseshoe Bay on the south coast won’t disappoint. The sand here is the palest shade of pinkish-gold, the sea aquamarine, and the beach framed by rocky headlands at either end and backed by dense scrub.
You can rent everything you need here, from loungers and umbrellas to paddleboards and boogie boards. Clamber on the rocks at either end for the best shots of the beach. While you’re here, exploring the small caves and tiny coves around the headland is one of the best things to do in Bermuda.
Feeling peckish? Head for Rum Bum Beach Bar on the western end of the beach for ice cream, snacks, and rum swizzles, an island specialty consisting of rum, fruit juice (orange and pineapple, for example), grenadine, and bitters, swizzled over ice.
Crane Beach, Barbados
Backed by craggy cliffs studded with palm trees and lush, tropical vegetation, Crane Beach, on the southeast coast of Barbados, is a wide stretch of pinky-white sand.
It’s protected from the biggest Atlantic rollers by an offshore reef, but the surf is nonetheless powerful enough to make this a decent spot to try boogie boarding.
This Barbados beach gets its name from the days when this was a port, and a large crane sat on top of the cliffs to load and unload cargo from ships. Today, though, it’s a blissful spot.
Swim with a mask and snorkel and you could well spot graceful sea turtles gliding through the depths.
If you’re feeling particularly daring, there are places where adventurous types jump off the cliffs into the deep, azure water—but this is not a pursuit for the faint-hearted and should be approached with extreme care.
Pink Beach, Bonaire
The name of this long, narrow beach in Bonaire is a giveaway. Like other pink beaches in the Caribbean, this one gets its rosy hue from the presence of microscopic foraminifera and their colorful shells.
Located in the southwest of the island, Pink Beach is a great spot for snorkeling. The water is exceptionally clear, and you should spot colorful parrot fish, yellow goatfish, and spotted scorpion fish on the shallow offshore reefs.
There are few facilities here, though, so bring what you need. A few palm trees provide shade.
Interestingly, Bonaire is the world’s first “Blue Destination”, which means that it’s committed to sustainability in every aspect of tourism and other elements of its economy that involve the ocean.
As such, you’ll be encouraged to use reef-friendly sunscreen and to avoid bringing any single-use plastic to the beaches. All trash should be removed, and shells left in place for the hermit crabs.
The upshot of this initiative is that locals are exceptionally proud of their pristine environment, and you’ll find Bonaire’s beaches, Pink Beach included, absolutely spotless.
Pfeiffer Beach, Near Monterey, California
Tucked away on the wild coast of Big Sur, where the Sycamore Canyon empties into the Pacific, Pfeiffer Beach is part of Los Padres National Forest. The beach is not easy to find, located at the end of an unmarked road off Highway 1, but the rewards for bumping down the narrow track to the shore are great.
Pfeiffer Beach is famed for two elements of natural beauty. First, the jagged Keyhole Arch, a natural rock arch with foaming surf pounding around its base.
Second, at the northern end of the beach, the sand is actually a shade of pinkish purple, a result of the cliffs, which contain manganese garnet, being eroded to create the beach. If you come later in the day, when the sun is lower in the sky, the colors here are dazzling.
Pfeiffer Beach isn’t great for swimming, as the water is cold and the surf strong, but it’s a beautiful spot to visit for a stroll.
Photograph the dramatic rock stacks and peer into the rock pools that form as the tide goes out to look for crabs and anemones. Or, for a bit of fun, build yourself a purple-hued sandcastle.
Warwick Long Bay Beach, Bermuda
Arguably one of the loveliest beaches on Bermuda, Warwick Long Bay Beach is the island’s longest, a half-mile sweep of pink sand on the island’s southern shore.
Coral reefs within easy swimming distance of the shoreline teem with colorful fish, while walking trails criss-cross the low, grass-tufted dunes and stands of seagrape and cedar trees behind the beach.
Warwick Long Bay Beach is fairly exposed, and the surf can be rough here on windy days. The undertow is strong, so swim with care. Even if you can’t go beyond the shoreline, this is a wonderful place to stroll and feel at one with nature.
Balos Lagoon Beach, Crete, Greece
Just over an hour from the Venetian port town of Chania, at the tip of Cape Gramvousa on the far western edge of Crete, Balos Lagoon Beach is one of the most photographed stretches of sand on the island—and for good reason.
The combination of the shallow seabed, vivid aquamarine water, and pinkish-white sand create dreamy swirls of color from the vantage point of the two headlands above the beach. Because this is a lagoon, it’s shallow and safe for less confident swimmers. As such, this Greek beach is very popular with families in summer.
Beyond the sandbars and rocks that frame this beautiful Cretan beach, the sea is cooler and deeper, ideal for snorkeling. You could spot loggerhead turtles here, as Balos is protected as a turtle nesting ground, and maybe even monk seals.
Look for Eleonora’s falcons cruising the thermals above the cliffs, too, and see if you can spot mountain goats on the rocks—or even on the sand.
There are a couple of beach bars for provisions at Balos Lagoon, but little shade, so sunblock is essential in the height of summer.
Elbow Beach, Bermuda
One of Bermuda’s best-known pink sand beaches, Elbow Beach is a short hop from Hamilton, the capital. Palm trees line the sand, while the water is a sparkling greeny-blue, making this an idyllic spot for sunbathing, strolling, and swimming.
There are plenty of facilities here, some the domain of the high-end hotels behind the beach, but more than enough space for non-residents as well.
A coral reef just offshore calms the waves. On windy days, kitesurfers take over, creating a dazzling spectacle as they zip back and forth, the wind filling their brilliantly colored sails.
Elafonisi Beach, Crete, Greece
Elafonisi, or Deer Island, is actually a peninsula connected to the Cretan mainland by a sandbar that’s exposed at low tide. The beach here is a true blushing beauty of pillowy pink sand, and the water is limpid and shallow.
You can rent an umbrella and visit any of the snack bars for refreshments, but if you’re in search of solitude, stroll away from the more organized area of the beach to the peninsula itself.
This whole area is a nature reserve, with sea daffodils and juniper dotting the low sand dunes. The secluded coves at the far end are clothing-optional areas.
Although Elafonisi is an hour-and-a-half’s drive from Chania, the journey here is a chance to admire some of Crete’s wild beauty. You’ll cross green valleys and pass craggy gorges, and have a glimpse of village life in some of the tiny hamlets away from the coast.
Platja de Ses Illetes, Formentera, Spain
While Ibiza is known for its chic hotels and legendary club scene, those in the know take the short ferry journey across from Ibiza Town to the sleepy island of Formentera, home to some of the best beaches in Ibiza.
The jewel in Formentera’s crown is Platja de Ses Illetes, on the skinny Es Trucadors peninsula, the island’s northernmost point. The “Illetas” are five tiny, rocky islands just offshore, which make the view even more enticing.
Because this part of the island is designated a Natural Park, the dunes are protected by boardwalks, which also lead down to the pale, coral-pink sand. The further north you wander, the more remote the beach, with clothing-optional areas near the point.
You’ll see dozens of yachts anchored off this Spanish beach, some of them enormous. Formentera is a popular spot for the superyacht crowd, and a typical day for the occupants of the fanciest boats involves being whisked ashore by their crew in tender boats for seafood at the high-end restaurants at the southern end of the beach.
Consider renting a bicycle in Santa Eulalia, where the ferries dock. From here, it’s only around 15 minutes on two wheels to Platja de Ses Illetas.
Bartolomé Beach, Galapagos, Ecuador
Bartolomé Island is famed for the volcanic spike of Pinnacle Rock at one end of an isthmus comprising two sweeping curves of Galapagos beach in the palest shade of pinky-gold.
There are few places in the world—barely any, in fact—where you might find yourself joined by penguins during your swim, but this is one of them. Swimming is only permitted from the northern beach of the two, as the southern part is even more strictly protected.
As well as Galapagos penguins, which may pop up right next to you as you bob around in the warm water, look out for other popular Galapagos animals such as green turtles and stingrays.
After your swim, hike up the hill to capture the money shot; you’ll be gazing down on both pink beaches and the green peninsula, the point of Pinnacle Rock rising out of the blue sea like a witch’s hat.
Ready to explore some of the world’s most beautiful pink beaches? There’s no better way to travel to these amazing places than by luxury ship. Browse cruise itineraries and plan your dream vacation.