Playa Negra: Black Sand on Vieques
You can now get a shared taxi from the ferry terminal to take you to this beach’s trail head. Get their telephone number and call them when you want to return. Should be about $10 per person each way.
Vieques is probably most well known for its beaches, many of which have beautiful white sand. But there is one little beach that has black sand, called Playa Negra.
Now, if you have read a few other of my blog articles, you know this little oddity would require a looks-see! .
How Was Vieques Formed?
If you take some time to look at the landscape of Vieques, it is obvious to see that much of Vieques is made from the lifting of tectonic plates; you’ll see lots of limestone and layers of sediment (some dark layers). Some obvious signs of that activity would be the rocks of Puerto Ferro, and this black sand beach. The black layers are probably heavy minerals (among them magnetite- a heavy, magnetic mineral). The black sand is very fine (but very heavy) mineral material that runs down the higher areas of the island (mainly Monte Pirata) along with rain run-off and ends up in a small stream (Quebrada Urbana), where it eventually gets pushed out onto Playa Negra.
Our Walk to the Beach
Back in 2012, when I was researching how to find this “secret” beach, I found a few different sets of "directions" — all quite confusing and contradictory. I don’t think we would have found the beach if it hadn’t been for some hand-made signs pointing the way. However now, it is no secret anymore! There is a huge sign pointing to a clear trailhead and steps!
Once you see the large sign for the trail, park of the roadside parking right there. Then just follow the well worn path. The path has been built up and avoids some of the creek bed, so when we went in the summer it was dry and not muddy except for the very last part. But I assume if it rains a lot, it might be wet/muddy. But the path follows the little creek (Quebrada Urbana) down to the ocean.
There was just a little bit of water flowing the day we went (maybe 1" deep), so we could mostly avoid walking in the water. But the water was clean, clear and cool, so it was no big deal to walk in it. It was sandy bottom stream and easy walking.
We didn’t encounter mosquitoes, though I am sure at times it must be abuzz with them. We did see a number of hermit crabs in all sizes (some as big as my fist), and we got some nice photos of red dragonflies. For us, it was an easy walk that took only about 15 minutes.
Right at the very end of the path, there is a mushy area that had some water, but the path managed to avoid most of the muck.
It was at the mouth of this stream, when you get to the ocean, that you find the the black sand. The quantity and location of the black sand changes constantly with the tides and rains.
On the day that we went in 2012, it was not a very dark black sand beach, but on the recent visit , it was much darker. There were thicker patches of the black sand as we went to the right (west), especially up away from the surf line.
In any case, it was fun to see and touch (and I hear it will stick to a magnet, though I did not test that). The black sand is very fine, so it sticks to everything, and is hard to clean off (so beach towels may get stained by it).
This was more of a hiking excursion for us, not so much of a swimming excursion. Use caution if you choose to go in the water.
There are beige "cliffs" made of some very crumbly material that run along the beach on both sides of the mouth of the stream. To the left (east), they are quite large and go right to the ocean edge and form a large wall, blocking access to this beach from the east. There are smaller cliffs/rocks to the right (west). You could probably access this beach from the west, but it would require some tricky climbing/scrambling over the rocks — probably not the smartest thing to try. We did not try to go up/around them to see what was beyond that point.
There were some shells washed up on the beach, especially all the way to the left, but nothing I thought worthy of taking home for my collection. There was some natural debris, and little bit of float-some trash, that was washed up onto the beach, but it was still neat to explore the area.
We had the beach all to ourselves, and ours were the only footprints in the black sand along the surfline.
This is a 15-20 min walk on a possibly muddy/wet path. You may get a little dirty, or may have to walk through some yucky water
there are no facilities at this beach- bring in whatever you may want/need while here, and pack out your trash.
Allow a 1-2 hours to enjoy this area.
Use caution if it has recently rained. The day we went, there was about 1" of water in the stream along the path. We can’t say how deep the stream might get, or how fast the water flows. Judging by the erosion in the stream bed, it looks like the stream can carry a couple feet of water during a heavy storm.
To get to trailhead, you would park on Route 201 at KM 7 — there was a metal guardrail with a large sign Playa Negra on it . Follow the arrow to trail head steps on the left.
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PuertoRicoDayTrips.com assumes no responsibility regarding your safety when participating in the activities described in this article. Please use common sense! If your mother or that little voice in your head tells you that you are about to do something stupid … then don't do it!