The Gross Truth About Hawaii’s White Sand Beaches

Updated: Jun. 27, 2022

Do you smell something... fishy?

Hawaii is warm, welcoming, and gorgeous. Its stunning beaches, with their clear turquoise water and pristine white sand, beckon would-be vacationers. If you’re one of those would-be vacationers, the Aloha State probably seems like a slice of paradise. If you don’t want to endure the flight to Hawaii, this location actually beat Hawaii for the best beach in America.

But before you start packing and brushing up on your basic Hawaiian, there’s a little something you might want to know about that pristine white sand. And for that, you might want to brace yourself. The white sand of those incredible Hawaiian beaches is comprised mostly of… fish poop. Regardless of the fish poop, these are the best Hawaiian beaches to visit in your lifetime.

Parrotfish poop, to be exact. These beautiful blue and yellow creatures populate the coral reefs located around tropical areas like the Caribbean, the Maldives, and, yes, Hawaii. They love to chomp on dead coral, which helps revitalize the reef ecosystem by removing excess algae. Parrotfish have two sets of teeth and no stomachs, so the chewed-up dead coral shoots straight through their large intestines. And then, the fish poop it out in the form of puffs of white sand. And they produce a lot of it. According to the Huffington Post, just one of these colorful underwater critters produce about 840 pounds of sandy poop—or is it poopy sand?—per year. This sand accumulates on the ocean floor, gets tossed around by the surf, and… voilà. Picturesque white sand beaches.

As Coastal Living points out, not all white sand beaches are made from fishy feces. In Florida, for instance, most of the white sand comes from quartz. But in Hawaii… yeah, quite a bit of it is fish poop. You’ll also want to avoid the most dangerous beaches in the world.

However, the sand’s origin doesn’t necessarily mean you should abandon your Hawaiian adventure. It doesn’t make the sand unsanitary or dangerous in any way—it’s just coral that’s taken a little journey through the ocean.

If the idea of vacationing amid parrotfish poo doesn’t faze you in the slightest, go right ahead and book your Hawaiian escape. But make sure you know these essential Hawaii vacation tips first.