We first considered Vieques as a vacation destination several years ago during an Air Sunshine flight to Virgin Gorda. I remember looking down at vast tracts of undeveloped beaches and saying "Is THAT Vieques? Really?" Alashas, an outstanding DE for Virgin Gorda, took a visit here and had very nice things to say about the experience. Alashas is a scuba diver and claimed that though he had dove and snorkeled all over the Caribbean, nothing impressed him more than his evening at the Bio Bay. Between the amazing beaches I had seen with my own eyes and the professed mysteries of the Bio Bay, I convinced my wife we should visit. The Bio Bay certainly intrigued her, but the guarantee of miles of pristine beach was the clincher. We are, first and foremost, beach folk and snorkelers.
A week on Vieques could not begin to afford us the time to visit all the available beaches...unless we did nothing but run from beach to beach for six straight days. None of the beaches we visited deserved to be wronged in such a way. These are the kind of beaches you while away the hours on. Also, the fact that three of us are fair skinned (my three year old is a nut-brown genetic mutation) it is wise to spend some time out of the sun, especially early in the trip. Blue Beach was visited twice. This may seem a luxury with so many beaches to choose from, but Bahia Los Chivos (Using both names in conversation with my wife really ticked her off. She demanded I just stick with one name. So, in honor of her request, I'll stick with the Navy names for now) is so large and diverse that it was well worth two visits. It also had the best shore snorkeling we did on the island. The large island in the middle of the bay is easily accessed from the center "peak" of the beach and the snorkel is shallow across fields of turtle grass. The grass is replete with tiny fish, crabs, slugs, and all manner of small sea life. A patient snorkeler is rewarded. This is a prime environment for turtles. Unfortunately, we did not see any this trip. Evidence of great numbers of turtles, however, was seen on the shore. Turtle nests had been marked and taped off up and down the beach. Once you get out to the right side of the island the reef begins. It follows the line of the island but flows into the deeper water to the west. Fine collection of hard and soft corals, patrolled by numerous fish, individually and in small schools. Though gazebos are available on the eastern part of the beach, we preferred the teal shallows of the west...and it helps that we travel with a ultra light half dome tent.
This tent came in particularly handy at Silver Beach, the last beach found down the long, bumpy preserve road. Unfortunately, the day we visited the chop was ferocious which made the snorkeling a bit of a struggle. There is fringing reef on both sides of the bay, and despite having to clear my snorkel constantly I did mange to spot a couple of rays and played hide and seek with an octopus. Topographically, Silver is very pleasing to the eye. It appears to be much drier in this area as numerous cacti raised their branches above the low brush.
Green Beach is so isolated on the western end of the island that a visited is most intriguing. The pastures of western Vieques give way to a large area of mangrove, immediately followed by the highest forest canopy I had seen on the island. Not hard to guess where rain fell most frequently on Vieques, and it also wasn't hard to guess why Green Beach had a reputation as being buggy. The beach itself is narrow and grainy, but the water that day was bathtub-still, the palest shade of baby blue, and crystal clear, individual coral heads easily discernable from the shore. The mainland of Puerto Rico dominated the near horizon.
We also visited Sun Bay, famous for its grazing wild horses, not as well known for the stunning trees that grace the broad field at the entrance. Red Beach and Media Luna were both being enjoyed by large numbers of people when we went by. We smiled and left them to their families and friends.
Navio offered me a rare chance to bond with my son. We visited there on our first full day, braving the bumpy dirt road and deep puddles. Our efforts were rewarded by a stunning beach with electric blue water, edged by black cliffs embedded with caves. We were the second ones there, the first couple being two attractive females who had decided to enjoy Navio topless. My wife didn't care, my six year old never noticed, but my thirteen year old went silent. Later that morning, another group showed up, and then another couple of equally attractive ladies, who also decided that the bottom half of their swim wear would suffice. My eldest son walked over to me, put his hand on my shoulder, looked me in the eyes and, with great feeling, said "Thank you, Dad".