If you’re looking for a unique vacation spot, these locations will give a whole new meaning to the phrase “going green.”
Does the surface you see in this photo look like grass? Look again—it’s actually sand.
The striking green grains are the mineral olivine, which is typically formed at high temperatures during lava flows and becomes green and glassy during erosion. Olivine crystals are heavier than most other sand types and remain behind when lighter grains are washed away by waves.
Green sand beaches are very rare, but here are a few places where you can find these geological wonders:
Cormorant Point, Floreana, Galapagos Islands
In addition to admiring the eye-catching sand, visitors to Floreana can encounter a variety of colorful wildlife, including pink flamingos and green sea turtles.
Kourou, French Guiana
Papakolea Beach, Hawaii
A visit to this beach on the Big Island—while arguably rewarding—involves hiking into a giant bowl. The bowl-shaped crater and olivine sands were created by the eruptions of a long-dormant volcano.
But if you can’t make it to these locations, you can still get your hands on the green mineral without going to the beach. The gemstone known as peridot—the birthstone for the month of August—is a variety of olivine.