Last Updated on: 10th April 2023, 11:22 pm
Did you know there is a black sand beach in Puerto Rico?
Golden, honey, and white sand beaches can be found anywhere, but black sand beaches are a rarity.
Not only does Puerto Rico have one of the few black sand beaches in the world, but it’s also been named in publications like US News as one of the most enticing.
Playa Negra is a must-see on any trip to Puerto Rico! In this post, you’ll learn everything you need to know to visit Playa Negra on Vieques.
And since you strike me as the type that likes adventure, I’ll share a handful of other unique things to do in Puerto Rico as well.
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My Favorite Travel Booking Sites for 2023
These are my favorite companies that I use on my own travels.
Protect Your Trip via Safety Wing
Find the best city tours, day tours, bus tours, & skip-the-line tickets on GetYourGuide and Viator.
Find the best deals on hotels & vacation rentals on Booking.com.
For English-speaking private airport transfers, book through Welcome Pickups.
For road trips and independent travel, rent a car through Discover Cars.
Find information and cruise reviews on Cruise Critic.
For packing and travel essentials order via Amazon.
Book an affordable family or romantic photography session on your trip through Flytographer (Use the code HISTORYFANGIRL for 10% off your first photoshoot).
For travel guidebooks to have with you during your trip, I always pick one or two from Rick Steves and Lonely Planet.
How to Visit Playa Negra, Puerto Rico
Play Negra is a remote 6-mile (10km) beach on the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico. It was relatively unknown until the 2000’s so it’s still somewhat of a secret.
Playa Negra is not the easiest to get to, and Vieques has A LOT of other beaches to choose from, so you can often get it all to yourself.
The beach is very secluded and there are no facilities. Do not expect to find restrooms, concessions, a parking lot, or beach loungers. You have to work a little to get to this beach, which is part of the allure.
Why is the Sand Black?
The sand is black because of Vieques’ geological makeup.
The island is composed of sedimentary rock (limestone and sandstone), volcanic bedrock, and alluvial deposits.
On some portions of the island, the volcanic bedrock is exposed and weathered. This means that when it rains and especially during storms, the finer particles wash downward toward the ocean.
The black sand beach in Puerto Rico backs up against Monte Pirata, which is the highest peak on the island made of exposed volcanic bedrock.
So, when it rains, volcanic particles wash right onto Play Negra, making the sand black.
The color of the sand at Playa Negra changes depending on when you go.
The sand from the golden rocky cliffs that line the beach falls down and mixes with the black sand creating a marbling effect.
In some areas and at some times the black sand is more concentrated, and at other times it’s a mix of black and honey.
The water at Playa Negra is crystal clear turquoise. The contrast of the black sand, the turquoise water, and the sandstone cliffs make for beautiful pictures!
Fun fact: Victoria’s Secret Angels filmed a Victoria’s Secret Swim Special at Playa Negra.
What is the Best Time to Visit Black Sand Beach, Puerto Rico?
The best time to visit is during low tide because you will see more of the black and marbled sand.
If you want to see it with a high concentration of black sand I recommend visiting after a rain, when fresh volcanic material has washed down to the beach from Monte Pirata.
More generally, the best time to visit Vieques is April through November. The rainiest months are May, October, and November so these will be the best months for the highest concentration of black sand.
How to Get to Playa Negra Vieques
There are two ways to get to black sand beach Puerto Rico. The first option, and the most common option, is to drive to the tiny parking lot and then walk for approximately ten minutes.
If you are coming from Esperanza, you will drive west on Highway 997. When the road comes to a T, turn left.
Look for the km 7 marker and turn left again soon after. There will be a sign that says “Playa Negra”.
There is parking for only a few cars. You’ll then follow a path along a stream that winds through the forest and pops out on the beach.
The second option is to walk along the beach from Esperanza. It’s a few kilometers but it’s very scenic.
If you decide to walk from Esperanza, be mindful of the tide. Some of the areas along the walk are very narrow and you don’t want to get stuck.
You might also want water shoes because some of the beaches you walk across will be rocky.
Black Sand Beach
Vieques, PR, 00765
Map of Playa Negra, Puerto Rico
How To Get to Vieques
Vieques is a small island about 8 miles off the shore of mainland Puerto Rico. There are two ways to get to the island. You can fly, or you can take a ferry. Here is what you need to know:
Flying might make sense depending on where you are coming from on the mainland.
Puerto Rico has three airports and flights from the mainland to Viques cost between $80 and $400 depending on which airport you are flying from. The flight is approximately 20 – 30 minutes.
Taking the ferry is a great option but there are some caveats. The ferry leaves from Ceibo and arrives in the north of Vieques.
The ride is about 30 minutes. You can purchase tickets online (which I highly recommend because they sell out quickly) or you can purchase tickets at the terminal. Tickets cost $2.
You can check out the ferry schedule and purchase tickets here.
About 20% of the tickets are reserved for in-person purchases so if they are sold out online you still have a chance to get tickets.
That being said, priority is given to Vieques residents. Sometimes the ferry schedules change due to weather, so be prepared to possibly wait a while.
Overall, flying is more reliable, but the ferry is more affordable and adventurous.
Best Beaches in Vieques (in addition to Playa Negra)
Vieques is known for its amazing beaches. There are many to choose from. Here are some of the best:
Playa La Chiva
Plays La Chiva is also known as “Blue Beach”. The waters are typically calm and boast a bright turquoise blue.
This is one of the best spots on the island for snorkeling. The beach is about a mile long and has a lot of different entrances. There are no concessions so bring water and snacks!
This is one of the most popular beaches on Vieques. White sand, crystal clear water, and calm waves, what’s not to love?
There is a fairly large parking lot with bathrooms and picnic tables. This beach can get crowded sometimes but you can almost always find your own space.
Playa La Plata
Playa La Plata is a little far out but that means it’s secluded and pristine. You’ll find soft sand, calm blue waters, and almost no people.
There are no facilities here and parking is just random turnoffs along the beach.
Other Unique Things To Do in Puerto Rico
If you love finding the hidden gem of Playa Negra, here are some other ideas for what to do on your Puerto Rico vacation.
Go on a Yoga Retreat
Puerto Rico is an incredible destination for a yoga retreat! The abundant nature, tropical weather, and slower pace make for the perfect retreat environment. Check out Puerto Rico’s top yoga retreats here.
Adding on a yoga retreat is a great way to get more out of any vacation!
Visit a Bioluminescent Bay
There are three bioluminescent bays in Puerto Rico. One of them, Mosquito Bay, is the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world. And believe it or not, Mosquito Bay is about a 20-minute drive from Playa Negra.
That’s right, Vieques Island has a black sand beach and one of the most incredible bioluminescent bays in the world.
Love bioluminescent waters? Check out 10 Tips for Seeing the Holbox Bioluminescence (Mexico)
Visit El Yunque National Forest
This is the only rainforest in the United States National Forest system! You can spend a full day here chasing waterfalls, swimming in rivers, and hiking to some amazing viewpoints.
Note: You have to purchase tickets ahead of time – they are not sold at the entrance and they do sell out. Reserve tickets here.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to get your tickets! I did on my last trip to Puerto Rico, and I ended up spending the day in Luquillo instead.
Black Sand Beach Puerto Rico: FAQ
Q: Can you swim at black sand beach Vieques?
A: Yes! Most days you can swim at Playa Negra, however, the water is definitely not the calmest. Be careful if you have children with you. This is however a popular place for local surfers.
Q: How do I get to black sand beach Puerto Rico?
A: You will need to take a ferry to Vieques Island and then drive to Playa Negra.
Q: Is the walk from the parking area to the beach hard?
A: No, the walk is a flat path about 10-15 minutes through the forest.
Q: What is the black sand beach called in Puerto Rico?
A: Playa Negra!
Wrap-Up: Black Sand Beach Puerto Rico
Even though Playa Negra isn’t the best beach for swimming it’s many people’s favorite beach on Vieques.
The super soft black and honey sand up against the sandstone cliffs and turquoise water with the forest as a backdrop is really unique and beautiful.
If you didn’t know about Playa Negra you could easily miss it which is why it’s almost never crowded and almost feels like your own private beach.
Visit Playa Negra Puerto Rico, one of the best black sand beaches in the world, and you won’t be disappointed! You could even get lucky and run into some of Vieques’ wild horses that roam the island.