The Black Beaches of La Palma – Breña Baja, Spain - Atlas Obscura
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Breña Baja, Spain

The Black Beaches of La Palma

Volcanic rocks ground down into sand make this Spanish beach as black as night.  

The island of La Palma is a beautiful place for rest and relaxation. It is significantly less busy than the other Canary Islands and is still full of untouched nature. One of the more unique sights on the islands is its characteristic black beaches.

These beaches are not black because of dirt or neglect. Instead, the color comes from the fact that this is a volcanic island and the sand is made up of finely ground-up lava rocks. Like the other Canary Islands, La Palma is a volcanic island that is the result of millions of years of volcanic eruptions. 

The base of the island rests about half a mile (four kilometers) below sea level in a rather steep decline, meaning that normal sand does not sweep up from the bottom. Instead, the beaches are made of fine pieces of lava rock that also make up the island, resulting in a pitch black beach. 

The advantage that this sand has over normal sand is that it absorbs heat much better than its lighter cousin, resulting in a much warmer beach that is comfortable to be on even at lower temperatures. However, this sand is often described as being sharper than normal sand and therefore slightly uncomfortable when it gets into your clothes, so beware of that. Despite its dirty appearance, the sand is completely clean and does not stain clothes.

Know Before You Go

It is best to go during the summer if you want to enjoy the beach and take a swim.

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