12 Best Beaches in Vieques, Puerto Rico You Need to See for Yourself

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Are you looking for the best beaches in Vieques, Puerto Rico?

Vieques is an island off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico known for its amazing beaches, free-roaming horses, and bioluminescent bay, a unique destination where the water glows blue-green due to microorganisms. It's a secluded paradise and the perfect destination for a beach getaway in Puerto Rico.

Although the island of Vieques is fairly small at just over 50 square miles, it's full of beautiful beaches. There are a lot to choose from, but this post covers the most popular Vieques beaches, whether you're looking for soft white sand, golden sand with shady palms, or even a black sand beach!

Here are all the best beaches to visit in Vieques, Puerto Rico!

Palm tree on Esperanza Beach at sunset
Esperanza Beach at sunset

10+ best beaches in Vieques, Puerto Rico

Starting in the southeast and going around Vieques in a counter-clockwise direction, here are the 10+ Vieques beaches you definitely should try to see!

Note: Vieques was used by the US Navy for military training/munitions testing from 1941-2003. Many of the beaches have both local names and military names; I'm mostly using the local Spanish beach names in this list!

1. Playa La Plata

Playa La Plata is the furthest beach you can visit on the eastern side of Vieques, within the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge. (The island extends further than this, but the far eastern end of the wildlife refugee is not accessible to visitors.)

Because it takes a little extra time (on a dirt road) to reach, La Plata Beach feels very secluded and is rarely crowded. It's perfect for swimming and snorkeling, with some of the clearest water you'll find in Puerto Rico (snorkeling is best along the rocks at either end of the beach). It's also a great place to lounge, as Playa La Plata has some of the softest pure white sand.

You won't find any beach services or restrooms here, so it's a place where you need to come prepared with everything you will need for a day at the beach.

2. Playa La Chiva

Playa La Chiva beach on Vieques
Playa La Chiva

Playa La Chiva is widely considered to be one of the best beaches in Vieques. It's also located in the part of the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge that visitors can reach, and is more or less like a larger version of Playa La Plata.

La Chiva is a wide beach with white sand and calm, clear water. There are some good snorkeling spots here, so be sure to bring your snorkeling gear!

Because this is a larger beach, there are several different beach entrances/parking areas marked along the road. The parking areas are numbered 1-20, and generally do not fill up. Beach services here are minimal; there are bathrooms at parking areas #3 and #12, as well as several pavilions near most of the parking areas for picnics.

Playa La Chiva beach in Vieques
Playa La Chiva

3. Pata Prieta (Secret Beach)

Pata Prieta, also known as Secret Beach, is a not-so-secret gem on the southern side of Vieques. Some people are put off by the drive (you definitely need a Jeep or a vehicle with four-wheel drive!) or the short, rocky walk required to reach the beach, but it's worth it.

It's a small, usually calm beach that is rarely crowded. You'll find soft white sand and clear turquoise water that is perfect for swimming or snorkeling, plus plenty of shade.

Once again, you won't find any facilities at this primitive beach, but it's a very tranquil hidden paradise.

4. Playa Caracas

Playa Caracas beach in Vieques
Playa Caracas

Also located in the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge, Playa Caracas is a great place to spend a day relaxing on the beach.

This family-friendly beach is popular with locals and tourists alike. You'll often find people lounging in the sun or playing a game of beach volleyball here. Caracas Beach has great water that's very clear and offers some good snorkeling options.

In terms of facilities at this beach, you'll find pavilions for picnicking or barbecuing. There's also a public restroom close to the entrance of the beach.

Note that the best way to get around on Vieques is by renting a Jeep or a car. Jeeps are the most popular type of car to rent since some roads can be unpaved, filled with potholes, and muddy – but you CAN technically reach all these beaches in a normal car, as long as you drive slowly!

5. Playa Media Luna

Playa Media Luna from above
Playa Media Luna from above (drone photo)

Not far from the famous Mosquito Bay (the bioluminescent bay in Vieques), you'll find Media Luna Beach.

This horseshoe-shaped beach has white sand and plenty of shady palm trees. The beach is in a small bay protected from winds, making the water very calm and clear. It's also extremely shallow, so it's ideal for families with small children (though it's not usually crowded).

This was my personal favorite beach in Vieques!

Amanda floating in Media Luna bay
The clear, shallow water at Media Luna is so nice!

Like most of the other beaches on this list, you won't find restrooms or other beach services here, but there are some pavilions where you can enjoy a picnic lunch.

6. Sun Bay Beach

Sun Bay Beach is one of the larger and more popular beaches on Vieques. This beach is less than a 10-minute drive from Esperanza, one of the main towns in Vieques, and is a long, half-moon-shaped beach lined with palm trees.

Shady palm trees at Sun Bay Beach on Vieques
Palm trees at Sun Bay Beach provide some shade

This is another beach where it's common to spot some of Vieques' free-range horses roaming. (They're not wild horses; they're owned by locals, but are allowed to roam freely around the island.)

There are no public restrooms at the beach, but it's close to town where you'll find more facilities. There are also several restaurants close to this beach, including Arenamar SunBay's Cafe.

There's theoretically an entry fee of $4 at Sun Bay Beach, but there's rarely anyone there to collect it.

7. Playa Esperanza

Aanda walking on Esperanza Beach
A nearly empty Playa Esperanza

Esperanza Beach is right in the main tourist town of Vieques, making it a very convenient beach to visit if you are staying at one of the hotels or guesthouses in town.

This is a chill beach with plenty of bars and restaurants within easy walking distance, and boats usually anchored in the distance.

Esperanza is a calm beach with few waves, and it's a popular spot to watch the sunset. You can also walk from this beach to a sandbar and all the way out to Cayo de Tierra, a small island that you can explore.

Sandbar connecting Esperanza Beach to Cayo de Tierra
Walk from Esperanza Beach to Cayo de Tierra

GOOD TO KNOW: Want to avoid Sargassum seaweed in Vieques? Because of tradewinds, the dark seaweed most commonly washes up on Vieques' southern beaches. So if you want to avoid it, head for beaches on the northern side of Vieques. (Though don't totally discount the southern beaches; they're still gorgeous, even with seaweed.)

8. El Cocal / Coconut Beach

El Cocal or Coconut Beach is a small, quiet beach near Esperanza (it's right across from the Vieques Guesthouse) that is the perfect spot for a quiet beach walk or watching sunsets.

Coconut Beach on Vieques
Coconut Beach all to ourselves
Amanda walking on Coconut Beach at sunset
Coconut Beach at sunset

You can sometimes see horses here, and there's also a large wooden swing attached to one of the palm trees, which makes for a cool photo op.

This isn't the best beach for swimming because the waves can be quite strong, but it's very scenic nonetheless. There are no facilities at this small, rugged beach, but there's a good chance you'll have it almost to yourself.

9. Playa Negra (Black Sand Beach)

Playa Negra is located towards the western end of Vieques, and, as the name suggests, it's unique because of its black sand.

Playa Negra beach on Vieques
Playa Negra from above (drone shot)
Black sand at Playa Negra on Vieques
Black sand of Playa Negra

Getting to this beach requires a short 10-minute hike through the forest, but the soft black sand at the end is worth it. It's a super beautiful beach, with black sand mixing with golden sand, and unlike any other beaches you'll find on Vieques.

You won't find any public restrooms or other beach services nearby, so come prepared. This also isn't the best beach for swimming; come for the views!

10. Punta Arenas

Punta Arenas beach on Vieques
Punta Arenas views

Located at the northeast tip of Vieques, Playa Punta Arenas (AKA Sandy Beach) is a remote beach that is a little more difficult to get to. However, it's worth it! Getting here requires a drive on a very rough road, so you will definitely want a Jeep or a vehicle with four-wheel drive.

Punta Arenas is known for its golden sand and reef just off-shore, and is the best spot to snorkel with sea turtles in Vieques. Just watch out for sea urchins (water shoes are not a bad idea here) and be prepared to potentially battle sandflies.

Bring everything you need for a day at this beach, because it's far away from town and there aren't any facilities nearby.

11. Playa Blaydin & Parque de la Ceiba

Sea turtle in the water on Vieques
Sea turtle near Mosquito Pier
Amanda standing in front of a giant ceiba tree
Amanda with the giant Ceiba tree

Playa Blaydin, AKA Starfish Beach, is to one side of the long Mosquito Pier. It's not the best beach for sunbathing, but is an excellent spot for snorkeling around the pier. You can indeed find starfish here, as well as fish, rays, and sea turtles.

On the other side of Mosquito Pier, it's also worthwhile to stop at Parque de la Ceiba, where you can see a huge 375+-year-old Ceiba tree on another beach. It's an incredible tree!

12. El Gallito (Gringo Beach)

Golden sand at Gringo Beach on Vieques
Gringo Beach

If you're looking for a nice beach that's easy to get to, El Gallito, also known as Gringo Beach, is a good spot. Located on the northern side of the island, it's a calm beach that is perfect for swimming or just lounging around in the sun.

There aren't any restrooms or beach services here, but you're not far from the town of Isabel II in case you need anything. (This beach is also close to the small Vieques airport.)

Vieques beaches map

Here are all the above beaches plotted on a map.

To save this map to use later, click on the star ⭑ next to the map’s title when logged in to your Google account. To use it, open Google Maps on your phone, click “Saved,” then click “Maps.”

When to visit Vieques

As for the best time to go beach-hopping on Vieques, Puerto Rico basically has two tourism “seasons.” Peak season is from December to May, and off-peak season runs from June through November. June-November is also hurricane season in the Caribbean, which has definitely impacted Vieques in the past.

In general, however, Vieques is fairly quiet no matter what time of year you visit. I went one year in February (peak season in Puerto Rico), and my husband Elliot and I still had some Vieques beaches to ourselves!

Esperanza Beach on Vieques from a drone
Esperanza Beach on Vieques in February

(Just note that if kayaking the bioluminescent Mosquito Bay is on your to-do list in Vieques, you'll want to visit as close to the new moon as possible, since darker skies mean a brighter bio bay.)

How to get to Vieques island

There are two different ways to get to Vieques, Puerto Rico: you can take the ferry, or you can fly.

The ferry leaves from Ceiba, which is a little over an hour from San Juan by road. The ferry is cheap (only $2 per person) and only takes about half an hour. But the ferry can get crowded, and locals are given preference over tourists. They do offer a small number of tickets for pre-booking online (here), but there is sometimes a risk of not making it onto your desired boat if you wait to purchase tickets at the dock.

The other way to get to Vieques is by flying. There are flights from 3 different airports to Vieques; you can fly from San Juan International Airport (SJU), Isla Grande Airport (SIG), or Ceiba Airport (RVR). Several small airlines fly these routes a couple times per day, including Vieques Air Link and Cape Air.

Learn more about planning your trip to Vieques here: How to Plan the Perfect Island Getaway to Vieques, Puerto Rico

Where to stay in Vieques

Porch with chairs and hammocks at the Vieques Guesthouse
Vieques Guesthouse

You won't find any huge beach resorts or hotels on Vieques; this is a small island that still feels like a small island. Most of the accommodation options here are small guesthouses and vacation rentals.

Elliot and I stayed at the Vieques Guesthouse, which is within walking distance to all the restaurants in Esperanza, as well as Coconut Beach. We LOVED this guesthouse. Our room was spacious, the price was reasonable, and the owners were so incredibly friendly and full of great island recommendations.

Read reviews on TripAdvisor | Book a room here

Other good hotel/guesthouse options on Vieques include:

There are also a lot of vacation rental options on Vieques, listed on sites like Vrbo. These would be an excellent option if you're planning a longer stay, or if you're traveling with a group or large family.

Some vacation rental listings to check out include:

  • Bonita Vista – This romantic retreat is perfect for two and comes complete with a private pool overlooking the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge.
  • Wind Dancer – This 2-bed, 2-bath condo on the north side of the island is open and airy with ocean views.
  • Barefoot Bungalow – This 3-bed bungalow sits right on the ocean, but also has a private pool that guests have all to themselves.
  • Vieques Villa – This gorgeous villa sits up in the hills and has a large private pool with panoramic views.

Who's ready to go beach-hopping on Vieques?

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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