Guide to the Best Snorkeling in Vieques Puerto Rico
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by Kristin Young | Updated On: February 2, 2022 | Puerto Rico
When it comes to visiting the beautiful beaches of Puerto Rico, particularly in Vieques, how can one not think of snorkeling? After all, in a short span, this small island off the coast of Puerto Rico’s mainland has grown from a snorkeling hidden gem to one of the top destinations for snorkeling in the Caribbean. One of the best features here is the pristine beaches that assure some of the best snorkeling on Vieques. If you are planning a trip here anytime soon, our comprehensive guide to the best snorkeling in Vieques will come in handy.
But, where to snorkel in Vieques? Well, with miles of accessible shores, plenty of open water, vibrant reefs, and versatile sea life as well as an attractive assortment of stunning corals, there is an abundance of places to try. This is because Vieques provides unlimited opportunities to let you explore aquatic life in a fascinating underwater ecosystem. And as a result, travelers from across the globe consider Vieques snorkeling tours a priority on their agenda.
The best spots for snorkeling in Vieques are dotted all along the south coast, with the Blue Beach aka Bahia de La Chiva being the most popular one, but almost all of the best places to snorkel in Vieques mentioned in this guide are a definite must-visit.
Without a doubt, a Vieques snorkeling tour will give you the best chance to experience the beautiful underwater environments the area has to offer. The tours have friendly and professional guides that are familiar with the reefs and the changing weather conditions that influence current, tide, and other factors that determine where and when snorkeling will be ideal. In this guide, I’ve curated a list of the best snorkeling spots on Vieques and some tips that will help you get the most out of these amazing places!
Click on each of the Vieques snorkeling spots on the map for more details on each location.
BEST SNORKELING ON VIEQUES SPOTS
Snorkeling is one of the best past times in the Spanish Virgin Islands of Vieques. You can spend days beach hopping and exploring pristine underwater ecosystems. Vieques has abundant options for snorkeling. You can lose yourself in bioluminescent waters that bloom with colorful reefs, brain coral, and gorgonian coral forests. You can also witness the most exquisite marine life, swim along with schools of parrotfish, angelfish, butterflyfish, eagle rays, as well as hawksbill turtles, and so much more! Below we have outlined the best snorkeling in Vieques, Puerto Rico so you can make the most of your time at the lovely islands and find the best spots around!
Blue Beach (Playa La Chiva)
Entry: Multiple entry spots
Access: Unsecured car park spots (don’t keep valuables in the car)
Facilities: Variety of gazebos perfectly placed near lush greens that offer photogenic views, bins, and restrooms available at the entrance of the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge
La Chiva Beach, fondly known as Playa La Chiva is a calm and sandy haven at the southern end of the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge. The blue beach Vieques snorkeling is ideal for all beach lovers as the beach is utterly secluded with a few amenities and crowds. You can enjoy the quietness and serenity of the place and rejuvenate in this relaxing tourist spot.
If turquoise blue waters fascinate you, then you are in for a treat here as you get to admire the picturesque hues of the ocean. We recommend you get your snorkeling gear, glide over the water and witness the multicolored fish swimming around the maze of corals bedded beneath the surface. Since the water is particularly flat here, it provides excellent snorkeling and swimming conditions for kids and beginners
For those who love long walks at the beach, the crystal clear waters with shades of turquoise blue and the soft, powdery sand on the edges will be the icing on the cake. You can watch the sunrise at the beach and soak up the views. You could even enjoy a picnic here with your loved ones.
Red Beach (Playa Caracas)
Entry: The first beach from the entrance is the Playuela Beach which is accessible through a hiking trail.
Access: You can enter the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge off route 997 where Caracas is the first beach on the refuge easily accessible by car. Just follow the signs and drive down till the end of the road to click some Instagram-worthy photos.
Facilities: There are gazebos for picnics that are available on a first-come first-serve basis, especially on the weekends. Since there are no restroom facilities, a short drive back to the main entrance of the refuge will allow you to use the bathrooms at the office.
Playa Caracas (formerly known as Red Beach) is a family-oriented beach as well as a local hotspot for chill weekends under the sun. This beach offers easy access and is the first beach access on the National Wildlife Refuge on the southern side of Vieques. Here, you will see beautiful turquoise waters with soft sands and light cream corals. The waves are gentle, making it suitable for children wanting to do little boogie boarding. Also, the beach offers plenty of space for families to spread out and have fun or play a game of beach volleyball.
The beach gives you a postcard perfect bay offset that showcases a tropical foliage, paired with palm trees that deliver much needed shade. The two ends of the beach are offset by rocky cliffs and mountains that are covered in lush greens.
Although Playa Caracas might not be a hot favorite for snorkeling in Vieques, thanks to the sheltered waters along the left side of the bay, it is an easy spot for adult beginners and children to safely discover marine life.
Green Beach (Punta Arenas)
Access: Park your car at the unsecured car park and walk it up to the beach.
Looked after by the U.S Fish and Wildlife, Punta Arenas (previously known as the Green Beach) is a hidden beach on the far western point of Vieques. It is popular as a great snorkeling spot with beautiful golden sands and crystal clear waters. This remote beach is a true masterpiece for all nature lovers. Green Beach is a part of the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge and offers attractive views of the main island of El Yunque and Puerto Rico. We recommend you get there in the early hours after sunrise to avoid the sandflies that stick around in the afternoon.
To get there, you need to drive on a bumpy road with potholes untill you reach the unsecured car park. Leave your car there, walk up, and enjoy snorkeling in the shallow, clear waters where you will see an array of colorful reef fish species such as parrotfish, angelfish, trumpetfish, and some shrimps, rays, and lobsters too.
This beach is also an excellent picnic spot that offers family friendly snorkeling, with views of the mainland and El Yunque. Since the sand here is not very extensive, there are still plenty of shade trees. The reefs here for snorkeling extend for miles and you can expect to have this place mostly to yourself, excluding summer weekends, as a lot of yachts out of Fajardo are seen here on day trips.
Access: Although there is no direct entry to the beach, you will see a couple of spots on the drive to click some amazing photos. If you keep going down the road and take the first right, you will end up driving towards and onto Mosquito Pier.
Facilities: Park, outdoor gym, walking trail
As you drive into Mosquito Pier, on the right you will see Playa La Peña, and on the dirt road to your left will be the Playa Blaydin, aka Mosquito Beach. The beach is a child-friendly spot with shallow waters where your little ones can do a little bit of snorkeling.
For adults, the Mosquito Pier beaches are a perfect spot for enjoying diving, snorkeling, fishing, or simply taking in the views. Snorkelers here can witness schools of starfish, angelfish, cuttlefish, octopus, and even swim with turtles. And if you walk along the pier, you can easily spot starfish. We advise you to not touch or move the starfish, as a few seconds out of the water can cause death.
Secret Beach (Pata Prieta)
Entry: Enter the refuge and turn right to Pata Prieta beach, then walk it up to the shore, following the signs.
Access: The little cove lies within the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge, and you can get here by 4WD vehicles.
Facilities: Camping area, water sports like kayaking, surfing, paddle surfing, etc.
If tranquility and peace are what you’re looking for, then this beach is for you. Pata Prieta (aka Secret Beach) is a tiny beach within the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge that lies on the south side of Vieques island. The sand here is pristine white and the waters are usually calm and devoid of strong waves making it perfect for swimmers, both children, and adults. In the summers, this beach is perfect for diving.
To reach the beach, you need to cover a short walk from the parking area (approx. 200 ft), so you can expect very few visitors there. The secret beach is a secluded piece of the beautiful beach that is cut off from the busy crowds. This is due to the fact that the beach is not a part of the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge.
You can put on your snorkeling gear and explore the healthy sea fans and tropical sea fishes. As well as having good snorkeling areas on both sides of the beach, it is also a nesting area for cute sea turtles.
On the eastern side of the beach near the shore, you will find tiny fish that live among algae and pebbles. The water has different shades of blues – from deep blue turquoise to teal blue waters, that change with the sun. It is a quiet, safe, and sunny spot to enjoy the day.
Entry: Enter from the western part of the beach, La Esperanza.
Access: It is a short walk from the town of Esperanza
Facilities: Scuba, snorkeling, restrooms
Playa Esperanza is located in the most vibrant island town. After spending some time in the water you can explore for an hour or two down the lively streets of Esperanza and snack on some Caribbean delicacies followed by a romantic stroll to the beach.
Both the beach and the pier are popular snorkeling spots on the island. Underneath the concrete pier, you can spot a great variety of fish, shrimp and rays and some have even seen large grouper fish hanging around. There is usually great visibility and plenty of coral formations growing up the concrete pilings.
If you love sunsets and want to catch some amazing photos, try staying till the evening and taking full advantage of what the area has to offer.
So, when it comes to choosing the best spot, it’s hard to pass up the beauty of Playa La Chiva. Not only is it popular for its numerous beaches that have postcard-worthy views, but the underwater life is varied and vibrant.
Our second favorite is Pata Prieta aka Secret Beach, because who doesn’t like some private time? It is gorgeous, quiet, and not a lot of people are aware of this hidden treasure in the heart of Vieques. The sand is pearly white with a beautiful contrast to the blue waters that offer mesmerizing views and abundant space for snorkeling.
So, what’s stopping you from booking your next holiday at Vieques Puerto Rico? We hope you enjoy the beautiful snorkelling spots they have to offer.