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8 spectacular beaches with unusually colored sand

By: Josh Lew on July 17, 2014, 6:27 a.m.
Red Beach, Paracas Peninsula, Peru

Photo: ms.akr/Flickr

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Red Beach, Peru

Peru's Paracas Peninsula is one of the most arid coastal regions in the world. The desert here comes almost all the way to the Pacific Ocean. In one small coastal corner of Paracas National Reserve, however, the golden-orange desert sands do not reach the water. This is Red Beach, so dubbed because of its deep red sands, which offers a visually-stunning color contrast.  Combined with the nearby coastal cliffs and crashing waves, this is one of the most picturesque beaches on our list. 

The red sand on this and other Paracas Peninsula beaches comes from the erosion of the nearby cliffs. Though they are lighter in color, the brighter sediment washes away in the strong surf, leaving the heavier, darker colored sand marooned on the beach. Paracas National Reserve is one of the most protected areas in Peru, and it has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.