The Vieques National Wildlife Refuge encompasses majority of the island of Vieques. It’s huge, covering about 18,000 acres. Because of its size, it has features and attractions which can probably satisfy any preference you have in terms of your surroundings. There are lots of beaches here, along with lagoons on the coast, forests, and mangrove wetlands.
Remember the Rules
You just have to remember that this is a refuge, which means there are endangered species here. These include 4 types of sea turtles along with the Brown Pelican and the West Indian manatee.
A lot of activities are not allowed. For one, you can’t bring any type of firearm, and you can’t hunt or keep any animal (not even a dead one). You can’t ride horses. A dog is okay to bring, but they have to be on a leash and under your control at all times.
Camping is prohibited and so is making a fire. Littering is particularly not allowed. Motorized vehicles are only permitted on the main entranced roads and parking areas, and not off the main roads.
You should also bring your own drinking water, hat, sun screen, binoculars, and insect repellant. The offices are closed on weekends and on federal holidays.
Enjoying Your Stay
Despite the rather forbidding rules, the refuge is one of the most popular tourist spots and people who have visited often leave rave reviews.
The Vieques National Wildlife Refuge is so huge that you can’t really describe it accurately in just a short article. All you need to know is that there are lots of different types of terrain here, so for avid hikers you have lots of options for exploring. Just make sure you keep to the trails, and you’ll be fine. It is best when you’re in a group though, so you won’t be along if you get into trouble.
But for most people, and especially for first timers, the main attractions here are the beaches. Because of the strictness of the anti-littering rules, the beaches are cleaner that what you see outside the refuge.
Perhaps you can try Playa Caracas, which is also known as Red Beach. This is in the southern coast, and it’s very accessible as the road to it is paved. It’s also very pretty here, and you can also use any of the gazebos for your picnic.
Another favorite spot is Blue Beach or Bahia de la Chiva. As the name suggests, the setting is mostly blue, with green vegetation all around. This is another favorite spot for families, as the water is very clear and the waves are gentle. The long beach also helps you get a private and secluded spot for your group.
Then there is Playa La Plata. It is found farther east, and since it is farther from the tourist hangouts you’re virtually assured of privacy.
You can also check out other nice beaches like Playa Escondida, Playa Prieta, and Playuela. In this refuge, you simply won’t run out of great natural places to visit.