There is a wildlife refuge on the east side of the island and one on the west side of the island. Both are former navy areas and some portions are closed off to the public because of unexploded shells, I believe. There is still plenty to explore. They are different in character but this is where you want to spend your time while on the island-exploring the bays, beaches and jungle in these two preserves. First of all, some roads are good but most are uneven and full of potholes; especially, in the outer reaches of both refuges. We had six people in a minivan and it was a little dicey. If you can squeeze into a Jeep, you'll be better off.
The east side refuge is where you find the Sol Food Truck and more of the people and rangers. Just drive in on the main road and decide where you want to park for some or all of the day or....try out a few different places. You can turn off to Caracas Beach which is more of the "developed" beach in the sense that the local van operators ferry tourists in and out of this location and it has a large, paved parking lot. Still a nice beach, but alot of people. Also in this area is the beach called "Secret Beach" which isn't exactly a secret but people come and go. There is a short walk to this beach from the parking area. Keep going on the main road until it turns into gravel (and varying degrees of potholes, vegetation and elevations) and you can travel to beach turn-offs 1-28 for different beach experiences. We tried them all. Some have very quiet water, some are rocky, some have larger waves and it does change from day to day. The Blue Beach area is probably the most versatile-parts of the beach have waves and parts of the bay are very shallow and quiet; good snorkeling and you can snorkel out to an island nearby. There are small areas of palm trees off the beach which can give you some nice shade if you're lucky to claim one. I would recommend this area if your time is limited. The most secluded is turnoff 28 which is pretty much the end of the road. Cool to visit and there is a resident warbler that jumps on your windshield and hangs out while you are there. I recommend trying them all. People come and go all day. Not likely you'll have a spot to yourself but there's plenty of room.
The west side refuge is a little more deserted and jungle-like. This is where the navy bunkers where they stored ammunition are. They can be explored from the various winding roads (which I think travel in circles) in the preserve. The vegetation has grown into most of the roads and there is no room for two cars in each direction. Fortunately, you don't run into too many people but, if needed, you have to back down the road to find a spot to pull into to allow for passing. Exploring the bunkers is cool. This is also where you find Green Beach. A good bit less traveled area than the east side of the island. The character of the beaches is different-more rocks, grainier, yellow sand but very picturesque. Some snorkeling in this area but not as good as Mosquito Pier in my family's opinion. Again, depends on your luck-the creatures migrate and the water and weather conditions are always changing. Also, always horses somewhere-even in the middle of the road. No food trucks on this end of the island. Be prepared--neither of these refuges have bathroom facilities or food/water concessions. Bring what you need.
If you're a resort person that likes everything available at all times and you don't want to fend for yourself, then this island isn't for you. If you like a little adventure and are willing to "rough it" a little, you will be very happy. This island is home to many along with their chickens, roosters, cows, horses, dogs, cats, etc. as well as stray/wild horses, dogs and cats. Yes, as someone said, roosters and chickens start their day at 2-3 am! Spending your days at the beach is the reason you come here.
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