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Experience Dominica – The Nature Island: Dominica Vacations | Exotic Vacations | Honeymoon Destination

Dominica weekly is a personal weblog about the nature island of Dominica.


In a previous posting I wrote about a pretty little secluded Black Sand Beach where one could relax and/or take a refreshing dip. There are other black sand beaches in Dominica. We visited one located between Calibishie and Wesley. To get there, look for a footpath off the main road only about 50 yards past the defunct Club Dominique as you head towards Wesley. Go down the path, which bears to the right. It will take you about 3 minutes at most.

In the photos below I show the bay from the red cliffs above (a sailboat is moored there, and a stream is depositing silt into one end of the bay), a bank of this remarkable sand, and of my wife Ruth and our miniature schnauzer Ranger on a red rock at this beach – were I an artist, I’d title the shot “Red Rocks, Black, Sand, Grey Dog, White Woman”. 😀

I learned from a close Dominican friend and neighbor that one can separate the black sand from white sand (it is intermixed on many beaches) using a magnet. I tried the experiment, and she was absolutely correct.

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Iron is attracted by a magnet, but never occurs in its pure form in nature. It always occurs oxidized, in the form of rust in iron ore. That is why the ore must be chemically reduced in a blast furnace (and why – because its recovery is so complex – that the copper age preceded the Iron Age. But I digress). I thought some more, and realized that iron can become magnetized near the earth’s core by the earth’s magnetic field, and then expelled in lava and cooled into stone before hitting the air and thus being unable to oxidize.

That is what is called lodestone, the first magnets discovered by mankind. I did another experiment and indeed, the Dominican black sand will also attract itself to un-magnetized iron or steel (weakly). Dominica’s black sand is lodestone that has been ground up by the action of the sea. That also explains why it is so dense compared to whit sand, which is typically made up of far lighter elements than iron.

Unfortunately, this black sand beach is not quite so secluded, and thoughtless people have discarded rubbish on it. For that reason, we decided not to try the water, fearing we might step on broken glass or some other sharp or dangerous object. What a pity! This sand is talcum-powder fine and does not stick to you, wet or dry – just brush it right off. Cleaned up, this easy to reach site would make a potentially lucrative tourist attraction.

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My most recent beach review was of Napier’s White Sand Beach, at Point Baptiste, Calibishie. In it, I mentioned that it was near the beautiful Black Sand Beach and in fact could be reached by walking paths. Therefore, I’ll give you a view of the Black Sand Beach and a few descriptive paragraphs this time around.

Black Sand Beach is nestled in a cove bounded on the west by the cliffs that overlook Napier’s Beach and by Red Rocks on the east. It is reached by trails, with the decent made fairly easy by well-cut steps.

The beach is tiny, and the off wave will wash over it, so you can’t lie out on it. It is sunny in mid-day from May to August when the sun passes to the north of overhead. You might think that the black sand in the sun would be too hot to walk on barefoot, but because it is constantly wet by the sea, the beach sand is cool.

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Even our miniature schnauzer dog “Ranger” enjoys the Black Sand Beach. Ranger is a smart dog, that’s why when his not on the beach, he is shows-off his 16 tricks to the kids in the nearby community (Calibishie and Paix Bouche) schools.

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Another interesting thing about this sand is its texture and weight. I don’t know its geologic composition, but it is jet black, very fine and smooth, not at all sticky, and quite dense. Incidentally, there are some beaches, Woodford Hill, or one, that have places where black sand like this can be found an inch or two below the white sand in some spots.

It’s possible to enter the sea for a dip at one end of the tiny beach, and there are interesting corals for snorkeling at the other end. But even if you don’t swim or snorkel, Black Sand Beach is worth visiting juts to drink in the visual beauty. Coconut palms shade the beach, the contrast between the black sand and the red rocks is visually striking, and the gorgeous blue sea breaks onto the coral, the red rocks, and cliffs nearby, providing not only sights but a sound track as well for any nature lover.

Getting To Black Sand Beach

The easiest route to Black Sand Beach is as follows: Turn off left onto the Point Baptiste road as you take the main road from Calibishie towards Melville Hall Airport. Take the left fork in the Point Baptiste road at the top of the hill. Continue past the last house and onto the dirt road, which curves to the right and ends in a meadow. Park at the end of the dirt road and look for a pathway that heads towards the sea. Take the first turn to the right on the pathway, and follow the path you’ve taken. It will go downhill and across a flat rock area, from which you can see Red Rocks on your left as you face the sea. Take up the path again as it enters the bush and proceed slightly uphill. You will come to the Napier grave sites. Look for a trail heading down to the sea from there; it leads directly down to the Black Sand Beach.

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