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“This is why you come to Vieques!”

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.
Wheaton, Illinois
Level 6 Contributor
120 reviews
32 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 49 helpful votes
“This is why you come to Vieques!”
Reviewed January 21, 2013

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.

Visited January 2013
2 Thank bcmufam
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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153 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
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English first
Level 6 Contributor
168 reviews
56 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 62 helpful votes
“If there is only one thing you do, this should be it”
Reviewed January 21, 2013

kayaking on this bioluminescent bay is a beautiful, fantastic experience. If the stars are out, the bay sparkels above and beneath you...an amazing experience!

Visited January 2013
Thank Bookworms2010
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 6 Contributor
101 reviews
33 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 45 helpful votes
“Fun exploring this Island and Wildlife Refuge”
Reviewed January 12, 2013

Bring your binoculars and camera. (Underwater Camera if you can) Even though it was high season, we were here after Christmas for five days, you can get away from other folks and find a nice quiet beach to yourselves. If you are interested in birds, there are many cool birds to photograph and see. Snorkeling was very good and just exploring the beaches was fun and relaxing. Getting a jeep or four-wheel drive a must as the back roads are rough and you will want to get around. Yeah, it is true they bombed the heck out of this Island, but don't get too concerned about the water quality. Buy bottled water and enjoy your stay. Remember, why you are choosing to venture out of your own community to travel.

Visited December 2012
1 Thank lmlupner
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 5 Contributor
87 reviews
35 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
“After the Navy retreat”
Reviewed December 9, 2012

The Vieques National Wildlife refuge is a wonderful terrain good for biking,with beautiful beaches. It is good to have a car there to go to all beaches.We saw horses but not many birds.

Visited December 2012
Thank agachicago
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Baltimore, Maryland
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“silver beach--playa plata”
Reviewed December 5, 2012

My favorite beach on Vieques. One of the farther to get to beaches, so it was really quiet the day we went. Some spots even have bamboo and palm frond shelters for shade. Otherwise you'll want to bring an umbrella because not too much shade.

Visited December 2012
Thank benihana_48
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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