On the small island of Vieques, you have ample choice of beaches. Some people love to beach-hop, others prefer to find that one sun-kissed spot that will hold them for the day. Here's a guide to 10 of the best.
Note: most beaches in Vieques have an English name and a Puerto Rican name. On this list, the original Spanish names are shown in parentheses.
Sun Bay (Sombe)
Sun Bay is the most visited and popular of Vieques' many beaches. This is also the beach with facilities; big parking lot (with a parking fee), bathrooms, showers, telephones, camping, garbage bins, and water fountains. Finally, it's a short walk from the town of Esperanza, so you may not need a car to get here.
The beach itself is a gorgeous curve of sand, with a row of palm trees and two small keys, or cayos making a picturesque sight from the water.
Red Beach (Caracas)
Red Beach, along with Blue and Green Beach described below, were named by the U.S. Navy, which used to practice simulations here, using the color codes to designate landing zones.
The beach has only been open for about five years, but it's been an instant hit. With a long stretch of white sand and turquoise waters, this beach is well-loved for its snorkeling and surfing, and it also has a smattering of covered cabanas for a lucky few.
Blue Beach (Manuelquí)
Quite a few war movies have shot their beach storming scenes at Blue Beach. It is also a long beach with a relatively thin stretch of sand, and it has several entrances carved out by the side of the road where no more than a few cars can park. This increases your chances of getting your own private slice of heaven, even in busy season. There is a sandbar that reaches out to a small key in the middle of the beach, which makes for great snorkeling.
On the western side of the island, past metal bridges and a mangrove lagoon, Green Beach rewards those who are willing to go out of their way to find their place in the sun. Narrow, isolated, and ringed by dense foliage, Green Beach often gets overlooked, which means you have a chance of being one of the only ones here. However, avoid Green Beach in the late afternoon, when the sandflies are out and ready to make you miserable.
Media Luna means half-moon, which is an apt description of one of the prettiest beaches on Vieques. This beach lies along the road less traveled: a dirt path from the ever-popular Sun Bay beach that disappears off to the left and ends in this lovely crescent-shaped oasis. Sure, there might be more sea-grass here than in Sun Bay, but you'll love its seclusion and calm, shallow waters.
Also accessible via the road to Sun Bay, getting to Navío can be a bumpy, jostling experience that requires a four-wheel vehicle if the road is muddy.
There are two reasons why people love it: first, it's got great surfing and bodyboarding conditions. And second, it's got a secret room: when the winds are calm, you can swim out along the left curve of the beach; pass a rocky point and then turn back toward the shore, and you'll discover a natural cave that you can enter. The view from here, framed by the rocky roof of the cavern, is pretty cool.
Black Sand Beach
True to its name, Black Sand Beach is comprised of black, volcanic sand. This is a tough beach to access, making you fight your way through a gauntlet of barbed wire fences and annoying insects before you get to it, and it might not be where you want to be for the entire day. But it does offer a completely different visual experience, and if you bring a magnet with you, you'll see the magnetized sand cling to it.
Playa Grande means "Big Beach," and this one certainly is. Removed from the town of Esperanza and most of the residential community around it, Playa Grande is one long and a wide swathe of sand. It may not have the graceful curves of Media Luna or Sun Bay, but Playa Grande is usually less crowded, and it has lovely views of Esperanza and its small keys.
Another of the less-visited beaches, Garcia, gets lost in the shuffle of the more popular Red and Blue Beaches, which are accessed from the same road. But there is a lot to recommend it; smaller than its more popular neighbors, it can get a strong surf and has a lovely little key placed in the center of the water. You can swim out to the cayo to snorkel.
Secret Beach is so secret; the word is out, and people know and love this place. Still, it is possible to come upon this small, grassy spot and be the only one here for the entire day.
Getting here is tricky; drive past the gate that leads to Garcia, Red, Blue, and Silver Beaches, and take a right turn when you see an unmarked path marked by two garbage barrels. Take the first right from this road to reach the beach.