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With almost one thousand beaches on the California Coast, it’s not surprising that they come in all sorts of colors. California has black sand beaches, white sand beaches, multi-colored beaches, and even a beach with purple sand. The diversity of the beaches in California is what makes our coast such a delight to visit.

Below are the places where you’ll find beaches of different colors in California.

Black Sand Beaches

Black Sands Beach at Shelter Cove

Black sand beaches are sought-after due the contrast from the majority of beaches that have light colored sand. Black sand is not uncommon at Hawaii’s beaches, but they are rare in California. The blackest black sand beaches in California are located in the small town of Shelter Cove in Northern California. Black Sands Beach and it’s next door neighbor Little Black Sands are incredible beaches but they are off the beaten path. It’s worth the long drive to the Lost Coast in Humboldt County find these beaches.

If you are visiting the Big Sur Coast and want to find black sand, head to the Ragged Point Inn and hike down to Youngs Creek Beach. There you’ll find a tiny pocket of black sand and a large waterfall.

Another black sand beach can be found near San Francisco in Marin County. Like the one in Big Sur, you’ll have to hike down to this one. The sand at these beaches are darkest when they are wet.

White Sand Beaches

Carmel’s white sand beach

When thinking of a true white sand beach the first beach that comes to mind is Carmel City Beach with its deep white sugary sand. It’s such a gorgeous beach and has over a mile of this wonderful white sand sand. Most of the beaches in nearby Pebble Beach also have white sand.

White sand is not uncommon in California. Coronado Beach has loads of white sand and is one of the best beaches in California.

Brown Sand Beaches

Moonstone Beach

One of the most loved beaches in California is Moonstone Beach in Cambria. It has the brownest sand which comes from the eroding bluffs and moon-like rocks along the shore. The gem called “moonstone” is white and if you are agate-hunting here you might find similar rocks which are actually quartz and not moonstone. Moonstone Beach is known for its wooden boardwalk, which follows the bluff top above the beach. Walking on the beach is pleasant too, but it’s better at low tide.

Another wonderful brown sand beach is Rockaway Beach in Pacifica near San Francisco.

Purple Sand Beach

Naturally purple sand at Pfeiffer Beach

There’s only one place where you can find purple sand in California, and it’s at a popular beach. Pfeffer Beach in Big Sur has an area of the beach that is truly purple. This beach is one of the bucket list beaches in California because of it’s iconic rock arch, but don’t leave before you find the purple beach around the bend to the north. Many people who visit Pfeiffer Beach don’t stumble across it. Please take only photos and don’t remove any of the sand.

Multi-Colored Sand Beaches

The many colors of Rodeo Beach

Rodeo Beach in Marin County has coarse sand that, when you look at it up close, is made up of many different colors including blue, orange, and red. The mixed up colors make the sand look brown from afar, but it’s truly a multi-colored beach. Kirby Cove at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge has similar multi-colored sand and it’s not far from Rodeo Beach.

Bean Hollow State Beach, located west of San Jose, has a Pebble Beach with many colors too.

Glass Beaches

California’s Glass Beach

Another multi-colored beach is Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, but that one is colorful due to the abundant sea glass. The sand at Glass Beach is more of a light gray tone, but it’s a beautiful place with rocks, bluffs, and trails to wander about on.

See other sea glass beaches in California!