Playa Mar Chiquita, Puerto Rico; Pablo A. Llerandi-Román

Posted In Beach of the Month, Features
Apr
1

By Pablo A. Llerandi-Román, Grand Valley State University

Playa Mar Chiquita, or the beach of the small sea, is located near the eastern end of the long ridge of eolianite exposed on the coast of Manatí in northern Puerto Rico, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of San Juan. Eolianite is a fossil wind-blown deposit that turned into a sedimentary rock. In this case, the ridge is an old line of sand dunes that formed at the back of an earlier beach when sea level was lower during the Ice Age. Water seeping down through the carbonate sand of the dunes deposited a natural cement of calcium carbonate, turning the dunes into rock.

Playa Mar Chiquita formed after wave erosion opened a gap in the eolianite ridge and water entered the basin forming a small lunate embayment. Today, the gap measures about 24 meters (80 feet) wide.

C. A. Kaye described the embayment “a small lunate resonating basin” in his classical work Shoreline features and Quaternary shoreline changes Puerto Rico (1959). Kaye suggested that the basin was almost completely excavated by resonating waves entering the embayment. He also observed that the waves inside the basin are of considerable height. Any visitor trying to swim in the basin today will observe the same phenomenon! Kaye interpreted the large size of the waves as the result of the backwash meeting the incoming waves at their breaking point, building up the size of the waves.

Playa Mar Chiquita formed after wave erosion opened a gap in the eolianite ridge and water entered the basin forming a small lunate embayment… The waves inside the basin are of considerable height…
—Pablo A. Llerandi-Román

Playa Mar Chiquita was once a popular secluded beach with a beautiful setting of palm trees, golden sand, and the imposing ridge of pitted eolianite that serves as a contrasting background for the blue clear sky, blue water, and sand. Today, Playa Mar Chiquita is still a gorgeous beach, but it is no longer as secluded as it once was due to the major urban development occurring on the coastal plains of Puerto Rico. However, the beach’s popularity has not declined. On any given day of the week you can see a few family picnics, visitors playing beach sports, or simply enjoying the landscape and sunbathing. One popular activity is to climb and explore the eolianite ridge that forms the rocky headland of Punta Mar Chiquita, on the northeast side of the beach. Hikers can see coastal processes in action as they experience the wave energy coming from the mighty Atlantic Ocean being expended on the rocks, and spraying the ridge, causing erosion and karstification that form interesting rock shapes due to the dissolution of the eolianite.

The eolianite of Playa Mar Chiquita is intensely pitted, with spikes and narrow sharp edges dividing the pits and pools. Cross-bedding in the calcareous sandstone forming the eolianite is easily observed on the edges of the ridge. Tidal terraces are a common feature on the ocean side of the ridge. Occasionally, water from the small basin, and water sprayed over the eolianite, reaches the back edge of the eolianite ridge, forming shallow, warm pools of calm seawater that are perfect for kids and adults looking for a relaxing environment away from the high waves of the embayment.

Playa Mar Chiquita also offers a few food kiosks and carritos operated by local neighbors that sell beverages, pinchos and frituras for the delight of visitors. Trees and uvas playeras provide much needed shade and the limestone geologic formations to the south expose the typical geomorphology of the Northern Karst Belt. The beach is off route PR-648 between the Reserva Natural Hacienda La Esperanza and Laguna Tortuguero.

Tags:

More / Beach Of The Month

Santa Veronica Beach, Atlantico, Caribbean coast, Colombia: A model of small community, beach loss, wrong responses; By Nelson Rangel-Buitrago, Adriana Gracia & William J. Neal

July 1st, 2019

Santa Veronica is one of numerous recreational beach developments along Colombia’s Caribbean Coast most sharing a similar history of shoreline retreat, perceived as shoreline erosion, and the attempt to hold the shoreline in place through the use of shore-hardening structures.

Read More

Big Talbot Island’s Blackrock Trail; By Cecelia Dailey

June 1st, 2019

The locals call it “lava beach”—a misnomer which leads some to believe the unique formation found here are igneous in origin. But these mystifying “black rocks” crumble to the touch, staining the hands, feeling gritty with sand. Although many are black, these “rocks” are sometimes light colored, deep red or burnt brown.

Read More

Terraces and Towns; By Gary Griggs

April 1st, 2019

The geologic history of California’s north coast is evident in the typically steep relief and coastal landforms. This is an area where a drive along much of the narrow lanes of State Highway One along the often steep coast is always an adventure and where it’s never wise to take your eyes off the road for very long. Most of the beaches occur at the mouths of the coastal streams.

Read More

A Special Beach: Nauthólsvík Geothermal Beach, Iceland; By Norma J. Longo & Orrin H. Pilkey

February 1st, 2019

Iceland is a land of black beaches, usually with a large gravel component. But one Icelandic beach near Reykjavík is different.

Read More

“Beach Robbers”; By Charles O. Pilkey

December 1st, 2018

“Beach Robbers”, is a book chapter written and illustrated by Charles O. Pilkey, excerpted from “The Magic Dolphin: A Young Human’s Guide to Beaches, Sea Level Rise and Living with the Sea” by Charles O. Pilkey with Orrin H. Pilkey.

Read More

California’s Coastal Harbors, Beach Compartments and Sand Dredging; By Gary Griggs

October 1st, 2018

Every year the dredge at the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor along central California’s northern Monterey Bay sucks up about 250,000 cubic yards of sand, on average, from the entrance channel and pumps it out onto Twin Lakes Beach where it continues its journey down coast. If it were put in dump trucks, it would fill about 25,000 of them, but the waves can move all that sand without any human labor, and without any noise or carbon emissions.

Read More

Beyond Preservation: The Coral Restoration Foundation Bonaire; By Andrew Jalbert

August 1st, 2018

When avid scuba diver and famed Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton first visited Bonaire decades ago, he eloquently described the underwater environment as, “a world of riotous, outrageous color.” Years later, Bonaire has seen some changes but his assessment still largely rings true.

Read More

Management Strategies for Coastal Erosion Processes; By Nelson Rangel-Buitrago

June 1st, 2018

The Special Issue Management Strategies for Coastal Erosion Processes (MSforCEP) presents an international collection of papers related to the implementation of various management strategies for coastal erosion under specific objectives.

Read More

Archive / Beach Of The Month