The English translation “Dirty Beach” of the words “Playa Sucia” is a misnomer because this place is certainly one of Puerto Rico’s best, if not the best, beach. The “dirt” in the name refers to the kelp which finds its way to the beach regularly. There is no paved road and potholes are abundant, but those shouldn’t keep you from enjoying this part of the island’s nature reserve.
Playa Sucia has dramatic scenery, gorgeous colors of water, a view of the island’s lighthouse, natural bridges, hidden caves, and beach coves with plenty of opportunities for bird watching. With warm, crystal-clear and clean waters and fine white sand, the pristine and enchanting Playa Sucia is known to locals as La Playuela.
No 21st Century Distractions
The “privileged location” of Playa Sucia within the area of the Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge gives you unparalleled views of the Caribbean Sea’s aquamarine and deep blue waters and “Las Salinas,” a.k.a. the Cabo Rojo Salt Flats. Turn to your right and get on the path that leads to the Los Morillos Lighthouse from where you can have a magnificent view of the beach.
Go to the opposite site of Los Morillos Lighthouse and see the limestone cliffs, natural bridges, and hidden caves. The only downside is that there is neither an oceanfront hotel nor service in Playa Sucia, but this is also its main attraction: there are no distractions that usually accompany hotel accommodations like loud music, internet cables, and other 21st century distractions.
Take an “Interesting” Drive to Playa Sucia
Enjoy the drive on the way to Playa Sucia and see the observatory tower from where you can get unmatched views of the majestic Cordillera Central, the Caribbean Sea, and the red tones that make Las Salinas beautiful. And on your way there, you can stop by the Wildlife Refuge, a natural sanctuary for birds.
Another place of interest, albeit not on any tourist brochure, is a tiny bridge that “displays” the remnants of an old, rustic railroad track. The road may be quite bumpy (the roads are not paved, remember?) but if you have spare tires the drive won’t be a problem.
Since there are no hotels or any kind of service, bring a cooler with enough beverages and meals to last during your visit. Just don’t forget to leave the place clean and dry like you found it (that reads no littering and if you have trash, stash it in bags which you are supposed to dispose outside Playa Sucia). Barbecues and other grilling activities are not advised.
Playa Sucia has no parking area so you will have to go to the Los Morillos parking lot and take that road off to your left side which leads to a parking space. You can always park near the lighthouse if you are unable to park anywhere close to the beach. Incidentally, this parking area has no bushes and is just flat dirt (again, there is nothing actually paved here).
Don’t Forget Your Camera
Admittedly, Playa Sucia is not that popular among visitors to Cabo Rojo, Spanish for “Red Cape,” but this probably gives you the advantage because you won’t have to jostle for a spot on the beach or have to swim or snorkel among a sea of people, literally. Given that, Playa Sucia is still considered by a majority of tourists as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
Don’t forget to bring your beach essentials – bathing suits, sunscreen or sun block, lip balm, and snorkeling gear – as well as your camera. You don’t want to miss out on taking photos of the awesome scenery right before you by forgetting your camera. Oh, and bring the necessary portable amenities – toilet, tissues, etc. – because, as mentioned, there are no hotels or services around here.