Playa Negra (Black Sand Beach) in Vieques, Puerto Rico (2022) – All You Need to Know

The black sand of Playa Negra is one of the most unique sights in Puerto Rico! 

If you are visiting Vieques, you shouldn’t leave without visiting this special beach. 

Being from Puerto Rico, I’ve been to this beach many times, and I think it’s one of the most interesting beaches here.

In this article, I will go over everything you need to know about Playa Negra (Black Sand Beach):

What is Playa Negra (Black Sand Beach)?  
Where is Playa Negra (Black Sand Beach) located?  
How do you get to Playa Negra (Black Sand Beach) in Puerto Rico?    
How much time do you need to spend there?  
Is there free parking?  
Can you visit Playa Negra (Black Sand Beach) without a tour?  
Is Playa Negra (Black Sand Beach) open to the public?
Is it worth visiting?

 

What is Playa Negra (Black Sand Beach)?

Playa Negra is a beach with black sand that is located on the south coast of Vieques island.

It’s the darkest among the few black sand beaches in Puerto Rico.

This beach boasts unique, beautiful visuals with cliffs, small orange crabs and pitch-black sand.

Below is a video that shows Playa Negra (Black Sand Beach):

Playa Negra’s origin goes back millions of years when the movement of tectonic plates and the volcanic activity in the area formed Vieques. 

Playa Negra, also called “Negrita”, owes its black sand color to the leftover particles of the volcanic material and minerals left behind by the volcanic activity in the area.

During the rainy season, the rain carries these minerals from Monte Pirata, located in the southwest of the island, out to the beach, giving the sand on Playa Negra its peculiar color.

image of the black sand in Playa Negra
Image of the black sand at Playa Negra in Vieques, Puerto Rico.

 

Where is Playa Negra (Black Sand Beach) located?

Playa Negra is on the southwest coast of Vieques, an offshore island part of Puerto Rico.

This beach is located close to La Esperanza and Vieques Wildlife Refuge. 

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Playa Negra:

I will explain the different ways to get to this beach below.

 

How do you get to Playa Negra (Black Sand Beach) in Puerto Rico?

The trip to Playa Negra is divided into two parts: getting to Vieques, and then getting to Playa Negra.

I’ll review them separately:

Getting to Vieques:

Vieques is an island located 8-miles (13 km) east from the main island in Puerto Rico. 

There are multiple transportation methods to get to Vieques.

The most direct and easiest way to get to the island is by flying from the San Juan International Airport. 

Cape Air and Seaborne Airlines have connecting flights directly from the San Juan Airport to the Vieques Airport, so you don’t even have to leave the airport if you don’t want to. 

A roundtrip typically costs between $100 and $400 per person, and the ride is around 30 minutes.

Another option is to depart from Isla Grande Airport, also located in San Juan. From this airport, you can book a flight with Vieques Airlink and Air Flamenco to Vieques. 

These tickets are usually cheaper and can range between $130 – $160 per roundtrip. The ride to Vieques is also shorter, with an average flight time of 20 minutes. 

You can see this airport’s exact location below:

But the most common way to get to Vieques is by taking a shuttle from San Juan or driving a rental car to the ferry terminal in Ceiba. Below is the location of the ferry terminal:

From there, you can take a ferry that within 20 to 45 minutes will leave you on the north side of Vieques, in the neighborhood of Isabel II. 

You can either buy the ferry tickets there, or you can book them through the website Puerto Rico Ferry

An important note is that you can’t take cars on the ferry to Vieques or Culebra. Therefore, if you drive a car to the Ceiba ferry terminal, you will have to leave it in the parking lot and pay a daily fee.

Flying from Ceiba Airport to Vieques is also an option. Vieques Airlink offers fares for about $80 a roundtrip. The flight takes approximately 10 minutes. 

Read more details in our guide on How to Get to Vieques

image of an airplane
Image of Vieques Airlines airplane.

 

Getting to Playa Negra Trail:

Once you arrive at the ferry terminal at Vieques, you will have multiple options to get to Playa Negra. 

The least convenient way is walking. Although Vieques is relatively small and walking from one place to another isn’t entirely impossible, it’s dangerous to walk through most roads.

Most Vieques roads are narrow, curvy, and lack sidewalks. All those elements put pedestrians that don’t know the area in danger.

The walk from the Vieques ferry terminal to Playa Negra would take between 2 and 3 hours, depending on your pace, the route, and how many stops you make. See an estimated route on the following map:

Renting a bike is also an option, but you would face the same problems on the roads, and the topography of Vieques would make crossing the island by bicycle a hard task to accomplish. 

So, although possible options, walking or riding a bike isn’t recommended for moving around in Vieques. Below is a video that shows the roads in Vieques:

The most common way to move around in Vieques is by renting a car or a golf cart. You can also take a carro publico, a type of taxi that can take you to the main tourist sites in Vieques. 

The carro publico’s fares to Playa Negra are around $10 per person per ride. You can catch one at the ferry terminal in Vieques or you can check out the following list with some of Vieques’ drivers and call one directly:

Letty Perez/Kiani Tours – 787-556-6003

Vieques Taxi – 787-741-8294

M&M Taxi – 939-208-1600

Vieques Tours & Transportation – 787-397-2048

 

Getting to Playa Negra:

The GPS will take you to the following location:

From here, you’ll see a large sign that says Playa Negra and the start of a trail next to it. You should follow the trail for 15 minutes until you reach the beach. 

Keep in mind the trail can be somewhat muddy during the rainy season and you might have to cross water puddles, particularly in the last section of the trail. During this season, a small creek also runs along the trail.

See part of the trail in the following video:

 

How much time do you need to spend there?

How much time you spend in Playa Negra will depend on what you want to do there.

If you just want to take some pictures and a short walk, then 15-30 minutes are enough. However, if you’re hiking, swimming, or just sunbathing, allow yourself 1-2 hours on the beach.

Yet, keep in mind this beach isn’t recommended for swimming, as the tide is strong. Yet, I’ve seen many tourists adventuring on the beach.

image of the black sand in Playa Negra
Image of the black sand in Playa Negra, Vieques.

 

Is there free parking?

Although limited, Playa Negra has free parking on the road next to the trailhead.

It isn’t identified officially, but there is a space across Gallery Galeon where visitors park and walk to their left to reach the trailhead.

Pin Gallery Galeon in your GPS and you’ll find Playa Negra’s parking lot easily:

 

Can you visit Playa Negra (Black Sand Beach) without a tour?

All tourists and travelers can visit Playa Negra without a tour. Access to the site is free. 

But, many travelers choose to visit this breathtaking beach on a horseback riding tour that starts on Esperanza Beach. You can book one with Esperanza Riding Company.

 

Is Playa Negra (Black Sand Beach) open to the public?

Playa Negra is open to the public, and it’s free of charge.

It doesn’t have a gate or operating hours, but visiting at night isn’t recommended, as it can be lonely and there aren’t any facilities at the beach.

image of the black sand in Playa Negra
Image of footsteps on the black sand in Playa Negra, Vieques.

 

Is it worth visiting?

Playa Negra is worth visiting in Vieques.

This beach has beautiful visuals and is one of the few with black sand in Puerto Rico. It’s perfect for hiking, sunbathing, and photography. 

image of the black sand in Playa Negra
Image of the black sand in Playa Negra.

However, Playa Negra is not for everyone.

If you’re looking for a beach that has calm and turquoise water, then it’s better to visit other beaches in Vieques.

 

Final thoughts

Playa Negra is one of the most unique beaches in Puerto Rico due to its black sand and cliffs. 

If you are looking for other things to do in Vieques, then check out our article about Mosquito Bay. This is the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world, and is a must-do activity in Puerto Rico. 

Article by

Vanessa Ramos

Writer at PuertoRico.com. I’m an avid traveler and freelance writer from Puerto Rico. I love the outdoors, coffee, hiking, and letters. When I’m not inside typing letters on my laptop, I’m out exploring the hidden treasures that Puerto Rico has to offer!

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