Snorkeling in fact is among the most popular recreational activities for those who come to vacation to the so-called Spanish Virgin Islands that include Vieques and Culebra in the Puerto Rico archipelago. The island maintains a unique distinction of being nearly undeveloped and unspoiled due to a naval occupation up to the early years of the new millennium. The island offers a great set of beaches, but sadly, it got hit hard by Hurricane Maria so the underwater life might be not as extraordinary as it was before, but still, there is a lot to see while snorkeling in Vieques. Let’s see now what shore snorkel spots you should add to your travel itinerary if you decide to visit this destination!
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Sea Glass Beach
Sea Glass Beach is properly called Playa Cofi. On the east you will enjoy the stunning views of Fara Punta Mulas and the Fortin Conde de Mirasol. The ferry heading to Isabel Segunda arrives along this route. The beach is within walking distance from the ferry and there are trees around that provide shade.
As its name shows, a beautiful sea glass display will tantalize you as you stroll the shoreline. Artists come here for these unique pieces, but Playa Cofi is also known as a prime spot to go snorkeling in Vieques that is accessible for free from the shore!
The reef is pretty decent on right and left sides of the beach where the rocks are sticking out at low tide, but snorkelers here especially enjoy the wreck lying off the coast. It makes for a unique Vieques snorkeling experience!
The long pier that hosted Navy warships in the past turned into one of the most popular Puerto Rico snorkeling spots. The pier stakes create a protected area where marine creatures find shelter including many baby fish and rays. Even better, Mosquito Pier is easily available from the shore and this is the place where swimming with turtles is almost guaranteed.
It is also worth mentioning that the corals seem to be recovering here after the hurricane damage. Don’t expect massive reefs, but small hard and soft coral colonies can be observed such as staghorn, elkhorn corals and sea on the rocks along the breakwater and on the pier stakes. To sum it up, this is a great snorkel spot we highly recommend visiting!
Playa La Chiva – Blue Beach
Once known as Blue Beach, Playa La Chiva is completely unique on Vieques in its varying shades of blue that fascinate the eye. It has no overcrowded feeling thanks to its large sandy expanse.
Playa La Chiva is consistently called the best place for snorkeling in Vieques and one of the most beautiful beaches of Puerto Rico thanks to the calm waters here that visitors of every age can enjoy. Under the water’s surface there is an impressive collection of coral and a variety of sea life that attracts underwater explorers.
There is one reef close to the shore that offers decent sea life to see (on the left if you facing the ocean, the best is if you approach from parking slot 9), but advanced snorkelers can explore the tiny Isla de Chiva cay too that lies about 15-minute swim away from the beach and has more superb snorkeling.
Tip: If you can’t decide where to go, Vieques or Culebra, check out our Culebra snorkeling guide too!
Playa Caracas – Red Beach
Once called Red Beach by the navy, Playa Caracas turns out to be an extremely family-friendly stretch of sand that remains among the favorite beaches of the local islanders today. Against stunning turquoise water, the sand offers a beautiful contrast with its white coral color.
The beach’s appeal has not been lost on international visitors either. A portion of the Victoria’s Secret Swim Suit Special was filmed on location here thanks to the dramatic scenery, stunning cliffs, and turquoise waters that provided the ideal backdrop.
Playa Caracas gives you the postcard-perfect bay offset by verdant tropical foliage, complete with palm trees to deliver much-appreciated shade. The two ends of this beach are offset by rocky cliffs as well as little mountains that are layered in a stunning green.
Red Beach might be not the most fantastic spot for snorkeling in Vieques, but thanks to the sheltered nature of the water, especially along the left side of the bay adults and children can safely discover the marine life.
Punta Arenas – Green Beach
Our best snorkeling in Vieques guide wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Punta Arenas, aka Green Beach on the western tip of the island. This remote piece of paradise is a true gem for nature lovers.
Although it doesn’t have such powdery sand like Red or Blue Beach, but the whole atmosphere is so peaceful and private here that you just need to focus on enjoying the sun and sea.
To get to Punta Arenas, you need to drive down on a bumpy and potholed road till you reach the parking area. Leave your car behind, go for a walk and enjoy snorkeling in the shallow, clear sea where you can see colorful reef fish species like angelfish, parrotfish, trumpetfish but also shrimp, lobster and rays too.
On top of this, turtles also love to hang around here in the calm waters. Don’t forget to bring your snorkeling camera to capture them while they peacefully feed on seagrass!
Tip: Learn cool facts about sea turtles to know how these interesting marine animals live!
Secret Beach is the island’s south side snorkeling hot spot on Vieques. The little cove lies completely within the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge. This stunning place has amazing soft white sand but is remote enough to remain secluded. The use of a four-wheel-drive vehicle to get here is recommended.
Officially called Pata Prieta, the beach boasts fabulous snorkeling particular in summer time. You can count on seeing sea fan gardens, and stingrays frequent the area. The water colors shift in the sparkling sun from deep blue to turquoise.
This Vieques snorkeling beach also has the advantage of being calm in many different weather conditions thanks to its horseshoe shape, even when its raining or during the winter months.
El Gallito – Gringo Beach
Gringo Beach (also called El Gallito) fronts Vieques’ northern side close to the airport. In times when the wind is calm and the water becomes crystal clear here making it it is an ideal spot for snorkeling among the rocks that face the resort.
El Gallito is fairly secluded visited by guests from the nearby hotels and locals who are in the know so if you happen to be here at the right time you may have the whole place to yourself. Just make sure to bring your own snacks and drinks since there are no vendors here.
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