Below you'll find a collection of photos that illustrate the wonderful diversity of sand in coastal California. The California sands below are organized from south to north and are followed by a selection of sand from beyond California. Please let us know what else you'd like to see here.

These images may be useful to educators implementing sand-related lessons in the Waves, Wetlands, and Watersheds science activity guide. (Download sand-related units designed for 4th grade and 6th grade.) Find a list of questions which work well for younger students (and others!) to guide exploration of this page here.

Explore links to more information about sand.


Sands From Outside of California

Below are a few sands from beyond California. If you have a sample to share, please let us know!


More about Sand!


Exploration Questions

These questions can be answered through writing or speaking, individually or via group discussion.

  • Which sand looks most familiar to you?
  • Which sand is the most colorful? Least colorful? How many colors can you count?
  • Which picture has the biggest pieces of sand? The smallest?
  • Pick two pictures of sand to compare. Name three things that are the same. Name two things that are different.
  • Choose a picture and imagine that you are on that beach. What would you do there? What would you see, hear, smell? What does this sand feel like under your feet?
  • Look at one of the magnified photos. Imagine you are a small creature that lives on the beach, like a beach hopper or a kelp fly. Tell a story about what it would be like for you living on this sand.
  • Choose one of the magnified photos to inspire you to create a drawing or painting of that sand.