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8 spectacular beaches with unusually colored sand

By: Josh Lew on July 17, 2014, 6:27 a.m.
Vik Beach, Iceland

Photo: Shadowgate/Flickr

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Vik Beach, Iceland

Paradise is often defined by white sandy beaches.  However, black sand beaches also have a lot of visual allure. The village of Vik, in southern Iceland, is home to one of the most stunning black sand beaches on Earth. The North Atlantic waters are certainly too cold for swimming, and Vik is known as one of Iceland's rainiest villages, but the clean black sands that cover the shore here are extremely beautiful. In fact, in the 1990s, Islands Magazine named Vik one of the world's most beautiful non-tropical beaches.  

Only about 100 miles from the capital city of Reykjavik, Vik has a population of about 300 (if you don't count the large flocks of puffins during nesting season). The black sand comes from the nearby Katla Volcano. When the hot lava flowed into the frigid ocean, the extreme temperature difference caused it to harden in tiny fragments that washed ashore to create Vik's sands.