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“Beautiful...” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Vieques National Wildlife Refuge

Vieques National Wildlife Refuge
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: Much of the land on this new wildlife reserve was once a naval bombing range.
Minnetonka, Minnesota
Level Contributor
17 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 9 April 2014

...and well maintained. I hope they continue to keep the beaches pristine and clean. The refuge is a gem!

Visited April 2014
2 Thank TonkaGal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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151 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
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English first
Boston, MA
Level Contributor
86 reviews
31 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
“Best beaches”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 5 April 2014

If you have a car the best beaches are found in here. The road is a bit rough in places so having a jeep is useful although driving in a car slowly is fine. Places you cannot walk and are blocked off for safety as could be old live ammunition from military use years back.

Visited March 2014
1 Thank cld63
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Madison, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
16 reviews
12 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
“It's great, if only because the Navy is gonna pay through the nose to make it happen.”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 20 March 2014

No, you can't go through most of it, but that's okay, there's still probably live ordinance out there...because the Navy doesn't feel like ponying up the $500 million to clean up the gawdawfulmess they created on Vieques. Ooops, sorry, editorial comment...(grin)

Visited March 2014
3 Thank Mark P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Hockessin, Delaware
Level Contributor
70 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 50 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 17 March 2014 via mobile

There are a lot of reviews about this and that being the "Best Snorkeling on Vieques". The problem with the reviews is that there's no objective rating system, and each reviewer (us included) has their unique idea about what makes a good snorkel location and what doesn't.

To help you calibrate our review which follows, here's our backgrounds. 45 years caribbean experience; 40 years visiting USVI, British VI, Bonaire, Florida, Marie Galante, St. Vincent, Gladaloupe, Venezuela, Red Sea for several weeks each year; NAUI Scuba instructor since late 1960s; own a home on St. John (USVI) for years; lived and worked all over the world.

On a scale of 1-10 (10=best fish, best coral, best water clarity, ability to reach the snorkeling via land), we found Vieques to be a "2". St. John is a "3" only because of Water Lemon Key, and Leinster Bay. 25 years ago, St. John was a "7", but reef damage due to Hurricane Marilyn (1995) and a couple of others decimated the reefs, and warming water temperature is implicated in major coral death.

On Vieques, we snorkeled off lots of beaches, including the Rompeolas pier, Mosquito/Punta Arenas, Gringo, Caracas, Escondido, La Plata, La Chiva. In the short two weeks of our trip, we found the best to be off the Rompeolas Pier, both under the pier and along the lee side of the breakwater. Coral is returning slowly in this location, and there were many fish schools to see (including 100 atlantic spadefish babies). A few small 3' tall clumps of Elkhorn and Staghorn coral have appeared, lots of small brain corals, some lettuce and grape corals - all along the lee side of the breakwater and somewhat on the pilings of the pier.

The only other spot we found was at La Plata. Park at spot 27 or thereabouts, and the snorkeling is off the point to the east (left), off shore about 40'. Some bigger coral clumps, but depending on the wind rougher conditions.

We hope we missed the really good spots, but we suspect we didn't. We did a boat trip with a local captain and pumped him for his best snorkel spots and the results were dismal. There are a couple of off-shore snorkels via boat on smaller islands, but our review is about snorkeling from the beach. Like Bonaire, there is simply no shore snorkeling of interest on Vieques, unless the group is snorkeling for the first time. By the way, a drift snorkel on the east side of Klein Bonaire (accessible only by boat) is a "6" and worth the $50 for a 1/2 day trip and 60 minutes of snorkeling), at least once or twice.

Wish we had better news...but this is the reality as we experienced it.

Visited March 2014
13 Thank foodiesweareyoutoo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Richmond, Virginia
Level Contributor
11 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Great Snorkeling”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 15 March 2014

After paying way too much money for a very mediocre snorkeling tour on our first day in Vieques, we drove to the end of the wildlife refuge (it is a long bumpy road) and parked in an opening. We were the only people there. We hopped right in the water and had the best snorkeling experience we had in Vieques. There is a great food truck right outside the refuge and there are public restrooms. Just be careful- there was a very sickly mouse crawling out of the toilet in the ladies room. There are plenty of horses roaming around and the views are beautiful. The wildlife refuge was a great find!

Visited March 2014
2 Thank steljo3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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