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Unusual Beaches in California

Unusual Beaches in California

California is ready to surprise us at all times with its endless amount of natural beauty, here are 7 unusual beaches in the Golden State.

Palig Dzadourian


5 min read

June 22, 2022

California beaches are known for their beautiful pristine shores, scattered around the Pacific Coast and the state itself. If you are looking to spice up your beach trips, there are quite a few unusual-looking ones out there you can visit, but what’s even more surprising is that they can be found in our beloved state. California is ready to surprise us at all times with its endless amount of places to discover and secluded beaches to explore, there is always a hidden beach to be uncovered in the beautiful Golden State. So where are the best California beaches exactly? Are they worth the hype and excitement?

Black Sand Beaches

When black sand beaches are brought up, we are taken away to a fantasy world filled with exotic lands. It is not every day that we come across a beach with black sand, as they are quite an unusual phenomenon. Before tackling the subject of where to find these wonderful beaches, let’s answer the commonly asked question of why is the sand black on these beaches? The reason is quite simple and probably less exciting than it seems, it is due to the lack of the chemical called Silica, and to the presence of volcanic rock and minerals that the color black dominates these shores.

The Lost Coast of California: Black Sands Beach 

The incredible black sands beach of the lost coast awaits.

Surprisingly, it is rather difficult to end up on a black sand beach in California. With almost no roads leading to it, The Lost Coast is a very appropriate name for this beach. But once you have found it, you will find the wonders of Shelter Cove and the peculiar color of the shores. While this location isn’t the ideal swimming spot, with the perilous and powerful waves crashing against the jagged cliffs, it is still a very enjoyable experience to have. It offers a vast 20-mile black shoreline for you to have walks on and take in the fresh air.

What’s extra special about this black sand beach is that it gets this coloring from sandstone and dark shale, caused by the tectonic activity of one continental and two oceanic plates meeting offshore.

There are also a few trails to explore if you are satisfied with the exploration, such as the Lost Coast trail, which will offer you amazing views of the shores and the ocean while you take on this mini-adventure.

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Black Sands Beach, Sausalito

This next dark sand beach is located in the deep areas of the Golden Gate Recreation Area in San Francisco. It is easier to access than the first one, as you will only need to head to the North side of the Golden Gate Bridge, pay the $10 fee and the beach will reveal itself! Parking is also available for early comers, as it can get crowded rather quickly. It is recommended to take the trail descending all the way to the beach, as there will be breathtaking views of the city to see while you trek there.

Once you get to the beach, the sudden contrast of the lush greenery surrounding the black sands and the bright azure blues of the water with the dark sands of this beach will make for some incredible sights, it is definitely worth checking out and exploring.

Pfeiffer Beach, big sur

A purple sand beach is exactly what you need to spice up your holidays.

While pink beaches are known to be something you find in the Caribbeans, you will be thrilled to know that they do exist on the coast of California, waiting for you to come and visit. South of Big Sur Station, the twisting and turning Sycamore Canyon road will lead you to the parking area just above the beach, and you will reach the shores after a short hike. Pfeiffer Beach has the reputation of being one of the most beautiful beaches on the West Coast, and for good reason. It is where the Keyhole Arch resides, a natural rock shaped like an arch, that makes for some absolutely stunning sunsets, as the sun will align with the hole of the arch at a certain point during the day.

To top it all off, the sands of this California beach are tinted with purplish-pink hues! Pfeiffer beach is one of the rarest purple sand beaches in the world. The purplish tint is due to the manganese garnet that has trickled down by nearby mountains during rainfalls. The sand is infused with crushed gems, and although you won’t be seeing miles upon miles of uninterrupted pink sand, there are tons of these colorful patches you will come across while you are here. Colorful beach sands are quite rare, and if this one can be found in California, don’t miss out on it.

Bowling Ball Beach, Point Arena

The ethereal feel of Bowling Ball beach is ideal for effortless photo ops.

Located at the northern end of Schooner Gulch State Beach is the Bowling Ball Beach, where, as the name suggests, are bowling ball-shaped rocks all along the beach. It is best if you consult tide charts before going, as you won’t be seeing them when the tide is high. Bowling Ball Beach is popular amongst photographers, many of which set up tripods to capture the magical sunsets over the bowling ball rocks. The scenery at Bowling ball beach is something you’d expect to see in a cinematic movie, it is simply breathtaking and quite unusual.

There is also a surfing spot north of the beach called Whiskey Shoals, where you can also kayak, scuba dive, and tidepool. A visit to this unusual beach is something you shouldn’t miss out on!

Fern Grotto Beach, Santa Cruz

Fern Grotto Beach, accessible via a hike from the Wilder Ranch State Park visitor center, is a hidden gem on California's central coast. Nestled at the back of a cove, this beach features a fern-draped cave and soft sandy shores, creating a secluded atmosphere that's a rarity along this popular coastline. The journey to the beach is an adventure in itself, with scenic views of colorful rocks and coves, and opportunities to spot seals and birds in their natural habitat. The fresh beach air and vibrant surroundings make for an enjoyable excursion in this beautiful part of California.

Glass Beach Fort, Bragg

An amazing phenomenon occurred at the Glass beach fort, a distinct beach in California.

Glass beach Fort is one of the most unique beaches in California, as it is one of the beaches with colored rocks in California. This beach was actually a trash dumping site for years. The tiny glass shards found in the dumps are what you will see on this California beach, churned in the surf for years they turned into these colorful rocks over the years. This modern natural art exhibit is one of the most unique California beaches you will ever frequent. However, it is important to not take the colorful glasses home with you, as beautiful as they are, their quantity has diminished greatly due to this problem.

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