Beautiful Beaches and Top-notch Snorkeling in Vieques, Puerto Rico

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With picturesque white sand beaches and crystal clear water, Vieques is ideal for slipping off the radar and soaking in the sun’s rays or wading into shallow waters. Vieques also provides some excellent snorkeling options. We were blown away by the visibility of the water and the sheer number of fish, sea turtles, and more! As always, be careful and ask the locals about snorkeling and tidal conditions before you get in the water – they might even loan you a life vest! Nearly all of the beaches are sheltered in the reserve so you will not find restaurants or resorts anywhere nearby. Be sure to carry plenty of water and snacks with you and enjoy the seclusion of these pristine waters! From my favorites to my least favorites, these are the waters/ beaches we explored in Vieques.

Hanging out in a town named….Mosquitos!
  1. Mosquito Pier (snorkeling BEST) – Everyone on the island will tell you that this is the place to snorkel and they are so right!  It’s a long skinny pier that is no longer in use and the pillars underneath are covered in lovely coral and surrounded by hundreds, if not thousands of fish.  The best part is that I can almost guarantee you will see several sea turtles and some spotted eagle rays! I was really nervous about swimming UNDER a pier in DEEP water, but it was so worth it!  You can swim all the way from the beach or from the rocky embankment, but unless you are a great swimmer, you are going to be exhausted. I recommend that you save your energy.  Drive to the end of the pier. Walk to one of the ramps where you can get close to the water. Put on your fins and mask. Hold the mask to your face and jump in. Don’t panic!!  
Mosquito Pier – Read to Jump!
Ready to jump – Yes, I wore fins! Don’t do this barefoot.

My husband and I are not great swimmers, but I’m pretty good at floating in the saltwater. He borrowed a life vest from an employee at Scallywag’s (it never hurts to ask). The water is very deep and your heart might skip a beat when you look down after jumping in; you might not see anything at first, but you have to fully commit and swim under the pier for the show to begin. Be very careful not to touch anything other than water! I thought I was being careful and I still managed to slice three deep cuts into my ankle as I swam between pillars.  It startled me more than anything, but it can be very painful and bleed a lot, so be aware that everything is very sharp!

Once you are underneath, let your mermaid fantasies unfurl as you weave between pillars and get surrounded by colorful fish. We have a system in snorkeling. I always lead since I move a little faster but I check behind me about every three minutes. Swim all the way out at the end of the pier, turn around and come back (I’d estimate that you’ll be in the water for at least 30 minutes). Be aware of the current and stay under the pier. The fish stay under the pier for the most part and if the sun is hitting the water, your best visibility is also under the pier.  We didn’t carry any cameras because we were mostly focused on swimming and staying safe. It is such a unique and mesmerizing experience that I’d go back to Puerto Rico just for this! You will have to swim all the way over to the rocky embankment to climb out as it’s impossible to climb up the pier. Pace yourself and enjoy the show. It is a lengthy swim, so float around and take in the starfish, turtles, coral, rays and colors on your swim back to the shore.  

2. Punta Arenas – Green Beach – This is a long drive to the tip of the island, and no, it is not a scenic drive.  You will see horses and a lot of dry grass, but the weather is beautiful and who’s in a hurry? We had this beach to ourselves when we arrived and we were stunned at the water’s clarity.  Even with gentle waves, you can ALWAYS see your toes. There are some big rocks and lovely coral right off the beach. We were close to the last parking number for the beach but there were these cool underwater outcroppings and the fish were swarming around those rocks. The ocean floor is really uneven as you might expect with a lot of coral creating barriers. You can be in really shallow water and then swim off a cliff and suddenly be in very deep water, and it is stunning. There was fan coral, brain coral, sponge coral, lots of large fish and even a sea turtle that put on a show for us!  Some fellow snorkelers found it eating on the ocean floor and as we watched it, mr. sea turtle surfaced surfaced over and over with so much elegance and laziness. It was so fun! It was more fun to see the turtle here than at the pier because it was the only one around and to spot it in all the thousands of miles of ocean was kind of surreal!

3. Caracas – An amazing Caribbean-style beach! If you’re ready to try some body surfing, hit up this beach!  You’ll find more people, but I find it enjoyable to see people once in a while! 🙂 We had planned to go to a different beach and stumbled here by accident, but we had a blast.  We put on our reef shoes and hiked around on the cliffs to the left of the beach. We put on our goggles and saw big beautiful silver fish despite all the people and we body surfed until we made ourselves seasick!  This is the beach for everyone. The water is clear and stays shallow for a while. The waves create that gentle melody we all need in our lives and the sand is super soft (albeit hot!). There isn’t much shade. We got lucky and found a little enclave in some bushes, but plan accordingly if you plan to spend much time on this beach.  

4. La Chiva – This is probably the longest beach area on the island! You have to drive all the way to the end of the beach so you can say you reached the edge of the reserve! I don’t recommend snorkeling here, but the beach is worth checking out!  There’s not much by way of fish, but you will find all kinds of conch shells that you can dive down and collect.  I started to take one but then I saw the coral growing on it, and I put it back in the hopes that the ocean will keep on being beautiful and growing a world of wonder for us!  The beach is really beautiful and the water is crystal clear and shallow with a sandy ocean floor until you hit the sea grass (which is when it starts getting deep anyway). You can snorkel or swim over to the little island as long as it’s not super choppy.  There’s not much to see underwater but it’s always fun to swim to a little island!

This was a pretty windy day, but the water was still calm enough to swim out to the island.

5. Pata Prieta – I’m not sure if this was really the beach we were at because they kind of get confusing as your are driving and see arrows to multiple beaches. This is a very secluded beach, but pretty rocky and wavy. We didn’t actually snorkel here.  We were dissuaded when another snorkeler told us that she cut up her knee when the waves threw her against some rocks. I enjoyed stacking rocks instead! Around the left side of the beach, you can hike around a little and someone has starting the fun and endearing trend of building cairns. You’ll have to try your hand at it and maybe start the trend at some other beaches.

Adding my cairn to the collection …
Added my cairn to the collection

6. Sea glass beach – Not the clearest or the bluest water, but I saw quite a lot of fish and collected some sea glass on our first evening before we had transportation to get into the reserve.  

You really can’t go wrong with the beaches on Vieques, but hopefully now you kind of know where you might want to spend the day snoozing or snorkeling!  Vieques has all of it for you, so take that ferry from mainland Puerto Rico, explore paradise, and live like an islander!

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