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Caribbean sand – how to get the powdery white stuff?

Do you dream of going to a beautiful Caribbean beach lined with palm trees? Do you imagine yourself sinking your toes into some of that fine, dusty white sand warmed by the tropical sun? For many I have just described their "happy place" where they go into their minds when they need to escape from the pressures of modern life.

Wrapping your toes in the fine white Caribbean sand is an amazing experience, which is safe and I would strongly recommend it if you have not yet experienced this very pleasant sensation. Those of us who live in the Caribbean or visit it often can take this beautiful white sand for granted. Few of us really stop to wonder how it came to be and why it is so different from the sand we find on many other beaches around the world.

So, I want to ask the question:

How does the Caribbean sand get so fine and so white?

Well, first of all, I have to say that not every Caribbean beach has fine white sand. Some Caribbean beaches have larger sand that is yellow in color or gray. This type of sand is actually common in the Virgin Islands. In fact, almost white, grayish or yellowish medium-grained sand is probably the most dominant type of sand in the world of ocean beaches. There are also the pink sandy beaches you find in Bermuda, derived from handicaps, a tiny microscopic creature with a hard shell and pink corals. Then there are those rare strange beaches in the world that have a completely different color than the volcanic black sands of Hawaii. There are also green sands because of the presence of olivine crystals – and before you say no they are not on Mars. These rare green beaches are right here on Earth in the tropical Pacific. Anyway, the green and black sand beaches are certainly a curiosity and worth living at least once for sure, but they don't exactly inspire my image of a day for a relaxing tropical beach walk!

So, going back to the emblematic Caribbean beach with the extra fine snow-white sand … how do these magnificent covenant worlds form over the beaches?

I will use the Dominican Republic as a good example, as I live and work there, and I think that illustrates the two attributes of how well you get fine white sand.

First, let's look at the texture of how fine the sand is. All this has to do with how fast the water moves. Fast moving water, ie "Rough" sea, it has the power to take larger particles and carry them over long distances. However, slower moving water, ie "calm" sea, no energy to pick up the heavier particles. Calm water can only carry fine particles. So we get fine powdery sand and no coarse particles are deposited on beaches adjacent to the calm oceans. This describes the conditions in the southeastern part of the Dominican Republic.

Second, let's think about how white the sand is. For starters, let's distinguish between white or dark white and really white or bright white. Hey, this discussion reminds me of those ads for laundry soaps that hold whites and compare them, but I give in! To get real white sand on a beach, this beach must be adjacent to a coral reef whose skeleton is really white.

But this brings us to a new question: how do we get the white coral skeleton to work very well and deposit it on the adjacent beaches like fine white sand?

This is where the incredible parrot comes into the picture! There are many types of parrots and they are all popular with divers and divers because they come in beautiful colors and patterns. They also have a large, thick mouth shaped like a parrot's beak, which is why they are called a parrot. The main food for parrots is algae that grow on corals, and as they chew on these algae, they use extremely sharp and strong teeth to tear it apart from corals. In this way they also take in part of the solid white skeleton and this is mastised in the fish and then appears after passing through the digestive system of the fish.

So, essentially, we get our beautiful fine white sandy beaches from a parrot and a lot of it! A parrot can produce about 200 kilograms (that's more than 90 kilograms) of sand a year! Well, this is the only humorous way of looking at it from the ground up. You can also see it, although in a marvelous way Mother Nature recycles its abundant resources.

Our beaches here in the southeastern corner of the Dominican Republic, including the beaches of Bayahibe and beaches of Saona, are adjacent to some of the most extensive and beautiful coral reefs in the world. That is why this area has long been a favorite spot for divers. These coral reefs are an ever-growing source of our exquisite fine white sandy beaches that we and our guests enjoy. They offer great opportunities to go barefoot on the beach and melt away all your stress. I invite all of you to visit the beach in the southeastern part of the Dominican Republic and wrap your toes in the soft powdery white sand and when you truly thank the amazing parrot!