What is Sand Made Of?

(Punta Cana. Photo by: instagram.com/s3rgi083)

Gosh, we love sand. Actually, we crave it. Its soft, powdery feel soothes us the moment we dip our toes into it. But what is sand made of? Here’s a quick snapshot of what makes up this luscious substance.

Get Your Grains. Sand is natural unconsolidated granular material aka “sand grains.” Basically, it’s a mix of mineral particles and fragments that are from inland rocks. It’s formed mostly by the chemical and/or physical breakdown of these rocks, or rather, “weathering.” Physical and chemical weathering are generally treated separately, but they usually go hand in hand. Kind of like peanut butter and jelly. You get the picture.

Drilling Down. There are lots and lots of different minerals that make up sand–an exponential number. But from a high level, most sand on the beach is made up of gray or tan quartz and feldspar. However, the most common mineral in sand is quartz–also known as silicon dioxide. This is formed when silicon and oxygen combine. Feldspar is the most abundant group of minerals on the earth’s crust and forms about 60% of the terrestrial rocks. When the wind and sea whip up on the shores, they transport these teeny tiny granules to the beach and voila, we get delicious, soul-nourishing sand. Now when someone asks, “What is sand made of?”, you’ll get to show off your smarts.

But What’s Up with All the Different Colors? In the Caribbean and Mexico, you’ll find so many beautiful shades of sand. Mostly, they’re within a small spectrum from white to cream to beige. There are those, however, that break away from the standard color scheme.

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(Photo: Barbados)

White Sand. These crazy white, make-you-melt sands in the Caribbean and Mexico are made of eroded limestone and may contain coral and shell fragments, in addition to other organic or organically derived fragmental material. Some sands contain magnetite, chlorite, glauconite or gypsum. Other shockingly white, heaven-on-earth beaches are made up primarily of quartz, which is a light-colored mineral. Here are a few sugar-white beaches that you simply must put on your Bucket List. In the Caribbean, there’s Eagle Beach, Aruba; Trunk Bay, St. John, and Nassau, Bahamas. In Mexico, don’t miss Tulum, Maroma Beach and Akumal. For beige-ish sand and mountains that hug the water, visit the Pacific coast of Mexico: Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Nayarit, and Cabo San Lucas, where you can visit Los Arcos. No matter the color of the sand, the beach is always sunsational.

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(Photo by: instagram.com/mallorysnow)

Pink Sand. You’ll be floating when you step foot on these cotton-candy colored stretches of perfection. Mother Nature knew what she was doing when she created these babies. Foraminifera, a microscopic organism that has a reddish-pink shell, is responsible for all this bliss. Coral, shells and calcium are also thrown into this sandy mix. Two swoon-worthy spots in the Caribbean you must make it to are Pink Sand Beach, Bahamas and Crane Beach, Barbados. Trust us, you’ll be tickled pink.

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(Photo by: instagram.com/lluisllavina)

Black Sand. While white-sand beaches are formed from coral deposits, their black-sand relatives are composed of volcanic minerals and lava fragments. Costa Rica has quite a few beguiling black sand beaches that are must-sees: Playa Negra in Puerto Viejo; Playa Negra in Los Pargos; Playa Panama and Playa Hermosa. Jungles and mountains kiss these coolio beaches–they’re the kind of things that create aahmazing vacay snaps, those you’ll have every right to brag about.

Now that you know exactly what sand is made of and got a peek into what makes up a few different shades, we know you’ve got beach on the brain. That’s why you must enter our 50 Sands of Beach contest – you could win a trip to a Breathless resort. Check out our Facebook page right now!

You can also call our BhDs, who are experts in Beachology, at 1-800-915-3162 and they can help you create a beachtastic vacation package. (You might even ask them what sand is made of. If they don’t know, you can tell them.) Nevertheless, if you want to select an all-inclusive getaway to the Caribbean and Mexico yourself, take a look at our vacay packages. The sand misses you. Don’t keep it waiting.

Lisa Mitchell

I am a blogger for CheapCarribean.com who is a travel junkie and addicted to the beach.

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