If you’re a tourist in Puerto Rico, one good rule to follow is to go where the locals go. After all, they live there, so they must know which places are the best. And for the locals in Isla de Vieques, the “best” beach is probably Playa Caracas. You can call it Red Beach as the US Navy did (the color was its designation for landing missions), although some people also call it Bahia del Corcho as it is part of Corcho Bay. Here is a great video showing the beauty of the area (it’s in Spanish sorry).
But whatever name you want to call it, there’s one thing everyone agrees on: the beach as quite scenic. It offers a long stretch of soft white coral sand surrounded by tropical foliage so everywhere you look it’s like something straight from a postcard. The water looks inviting as well, as the various turquoise hues offer a visual delight.
Fish and Wildlife has just opened and made a lot of improvements to the place. It’s regularly cleaned, there are a few picnic shelters here and there, the free parking lot is big enough, and the road to the beach has just been paved. There’s also a composting toilet, which for many tourists is a welcome contrast from the many other beaches which lack restroom facilities.
The water is also quite warm, and that can tempt you to wade in. To the left you can go snorkeling especially when the wind is not strong and the waters are calm. There’s not much coral, but you can find an area here with a concentration of sea fans. If you have a camera, you should take pictures of all those yellow and purple fans undulating in the gentle current. There are also a nice number of fish here, with lots of variety as well.
There are no vendors or any establishments in Playa Caracas, so you need to bring what you need. That includes some decent footwear if you want to explore beyond the sandy areas, as the surfaces can wreak havoc on your feet. Don’t forget to bring food and water too.
You will also need to bring some sunscreen. Umbrellas are also important, as the shady areas are few and far in between. The covered picnic shelters are very few, and if you want to take advantage of them you have to come early on a weekday. By midday, there will be lots of people here and the cabanas will surely be taken.
On weekends, the local crowds come in droves, so you have no chance of getting those precious picnic shelters. Lovers of serenity and quiet may not appreciate the large number of people here, but it’s not really crowded. There’s still space for everyone.
The cove does offer some calm waters most of the time, and that’s also one of the reasons why families come here regularly. Take a publico for just $5 to get there, and you can always find another ride to get you back to your hotel. You’ll probably want to visit here more often especially if you have kids. It’s not exactly serene, but it’s hardly boring!