The tiny Caribbean island of Vieques, Puerto Rico is a beach lovers paradise. With most of the tropical island protected from commercial development by the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge, the secluded beaches are breathtaking. With over 70 white-sand Vieques beaches to choose from, the options for fun in the sun are nearly endless, but how do you know which are the best beaches on the island?
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Did you know many ‘travel blogs’ are written by AI bots or people who have never actually been to the destination? At Family Can Travel, we are a real family who travel with our kids to real places. We then write about our family travels in hopes of inspiring families like you to travel with their kids too! We hope you enjoy reading about our real life visits to the best beaches in Vieques, Puerto Rico!
The Best Vieques Beaches
Creating a list of the best beaches on Vieques, Puerto Rico is a very difficult task. With blistering white sand, breathtaking scenery and brilliant turquoise water, nearly every beach on the island is worth visiting.
To help you make the most of your trip to Vieques, we have drawn on our experiences to create a list of the 9 best beaches in Vieques, starting with our favorite amazing beaches, working our way down to the most overrated beaches you can skip.
1. La Chiva Beach (Playa La Chiva)
We had the opportunity to talk to a retiree on Punta Arenas Beach who is a frequent visitor to Vieques. He recommended we take our kids to La Chiva Beach, as that is his favorite beach to take his grandkids.
Playa La Chiva is along the southern coast of Vieques in the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge. We’re grateful for our new friends’ recommendation as La Chiva was our very favorite kid-friendly Vieques beach.
La Chiva is a very long, white sand beach with multiple parking lots along the dirt road. The stretch of Playa La Chiva between parking spots #8 and #10 is especially stunning and great for families.
The water in this section of La Chiva Beach takes an especially long time to get deep. In addition, the white sand is very soft and the area is largely free of rocks and vegetation. This combination results in a huge area of brilliant turquoise water – the kind of turquoise waters you see on Caribbean marketing materials. It’s truly stunning!
Sadly, it was quite windy during our first afternoon visit to Playa La Chiva. With such a strong wind, you’d expect really big waves, but this section of La Chiva is well protected and the waves never got very big.
I spent a very long time sitting in the surf, rocking with the surprisingly calm waves. I loved looking at the palm trees swaying in the wind while I dug my hands into the sand for hidden treasures. There were tons of intact clam shells (both sides still connected), lots of coral and a fully intact, although quite aged, conch shell! What a find!
We ended up visiting La Chiva Beach three times during our week in Vieques with kids. Playa La Chiva is a wonderful beach for families, and easily one of the best beaches in Vieques!
Don’t miss our packing list for a family beach vacation!
2. Caracas Beach (Playa Caracas)
There are many reasons why Caracas Beach is likely the most popular beach within the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge. Firstly, it offers easy access (rare on Vieques), with a paved road all the way to Caracas Beach, eliminating the need for a 4×4. Secondly, there’s two really large parking lots which is also a rarity at Vieques beaches.
But the most likely reason Caracas Beach is so popular is what an incredibly beautiful beach it is. Caracas Beach reminded me very much of the amazing kid-friendly Playa del Carmen beaches we enjoyed during a recent family trip to Mexico. The sand is blisteringly white and very soft, both on land and underneath the water.
The setting for Playa Caracas is stunning as well. The beach itself is a long, crescent shaped beach with lush jungle-covered hills on either end. The area of electric turquoise water color is likely the biggest we’ve seen among all the kid-friendly beaches in Vieques.
For most of our family trip to Vieques, we’ve sought out the most protected beaches which have smaller waves for the kids. To us parents, calm waves makes a beach more kid-friendly. But Caracas Beach had bigger than average waves, and it was a good reminder of how much kids love playing in the surf.
Sure, you need to watch your kids more closely (or better yet, get in the water with them!), but kids simply love playing in the waves. You just can’t beat the look of joy on a kid playing in the waves, body surfing and simply having an amazing time. If you have the ability to bring one, Playa Caracas is popular for boogie boarding.
As you can see, there are many reasons why Playa Caracas is one of the best beaches in Vieques.
3. La Plata Beach (Playa Plata)
We’ve been fortunate enough to visit some incredible beaches in our family travels, so it’s not often that I saw “wow” when I first set eyes on a beach, so it says something that I said “Wow!” as I walked up to La Plata Beach. Considered by many to be one of the most beautiful beaches on Vieques, La Plata Beach is a must-visit beach on the southern coast of this beautiful Puerto Rican island.
Playa Plata is a very kid-friendly beach on Vieques Island. With a remarkable location within the Ensenada Honda Bay, La Plata Beach is in a smaller bay within a larger bay, resulting in small waves. The blinding white sand is so soft under your feet, both on land and under the crystal clear water, it’s like walking on talcum powder.
We made some fun sand sculptures on the shore given how good the sand was for sculpting. Don’t forget your beach toys (like we did!)
There’s something magical about the water color in the Caribbean and the white sand underneath the water at La Plata Beach really makes the turquoise water color pop. There seemed to be an endless variation of turquoise colors as the water got deeper.
One of the reasons we loved this secluded beach so much is its isolation. Aside from a snorkelling tour which came and went quickly, we practically had Playa Plata to ourselves, with only a few other people scattered across the length of the beach.
We enjoyed the company of some avian friends during our visit to La Plata Beach. A small flock of pelicans flew overhead, while a few little sandpipers flittered around in the surf. We even saw a beautiful white heron on some rocks at the very eastern end of the bay.
Located near the eastern end of the dirt road through Vieques National Wildlife Refuge, it takes a bit of effort to get here, but it’s not as bad as I had previously read. You’ll need a 4×4 car rental or an off-road golf cart to La Plata Beach here, but the dirt road is actually in pretty decent condition.
There’s even a ‘secret beach’ to be found on the far eastern side of La Plata Beach. All it takes is a short wade through some waist-deep water around some rocks to get to it.
The secret beach is pretty small and due to a lot of vegetation, is not good for swimming, but you can see a lot of marine life near shore, including some tropical fish and some of the most beautiful blue crabs I’ve ever seen. Be careful as these crabs are big and will pinch you if threatened – just ask our daughter!
4. Playuela Beach (Playa Playuela)
Want a beach that’s almost as nice as Caracas Beach, but without the crowds? Try Playuela Beach, which is the beach immediately west of Caracas Beach – these beautiful beaches are just separated by a rocky peninsula.
So, if Playuela Beach is almost as nice as Playa Caracas, why is it almost deserted? Simple – you need to walk about 0.6 miles to get there. That’s a trade we’ll make any day of the week!
The easy hike to Playa Playuela is called, “Vereda Cerro Playuela”. The short gravel road to the trailhead is in good condition and most cars should be able to pass without problem.
The 0.6 mile (1 km) hike to Playuela Beach is an easy hike through a thick mangrove forest. There are four types of mangrove trees present in this forest: red, black, white and Button mangrove trees. The hiking trail is a mix of small, uneven rocks and dirt, so we recommend sports sandals over flip-flops.
Listen to the forest and you’ll hear all sorts of critters skittering about in the brush – mostly small lizards. There is a sign along the way warning about the presence of munitions from the old US military days, so don’t venture off the trail and don’t let your kids pick up anything along the way.
We visited Playuela Beach on the Sunday afternoon of the President’s Day long weekend. Everywhere on the island was super busy that day – the roads were busy, parking lots were busy, but Playa Playuela was deserted! We love to avoid crowds where possible, so we loved having Playuela Beach all to ourselves!
Caracas Beach is so close you can see it just around the bend. The two amazing beaches are a lot alike in many ways, with the biggest differences being the lack of facilities at Playuela Beach and the amount of dried seaweed along the sand.
But it’s exactly the same as Playa Caracas where it matters most. It’s a beautiful beach with abundant, soft white sand. The water is a brilliant Caribbean turquoise and the waves are fun for the kids.
One bonus for parents with a rental car: visiting Playuela Beach with kids is better for managing the sand levels in your rental car as the walk from the beach to the car forces kids to dry off before getting in. This makes de-sanding much easier!
Be sure to download the trail map for the hike to Playuela Beach.
5. Black Sand Beach (Playa Negra)
Unlike the mostly white sand beaches elsewhere on Vieques island, this beach has extremely black sand, thanks to a nearby volcanic eruption. We were recently in the Canary Islands with kids and were impressed by their black sand beaches, but none of them could compare to the midnight black sand at Playa Negra.
Due to the novelty of the midnight sand color, Black Sand Beach is a fun place for a family walk in Vieques. There are tall, rusty-orange colored cliffs behind the beach, which people make ‘graffiti’ on with the sticky black sand. It’s not permanent, so it’s a fun activity for kids.
Black Sand Beach is fully exposed to the Caribbean Sea, with no apparent reefs or rocks for a wave break, so the waves here were bigger than we’ve seen at some of the other kid-friendly Vieques beaches. We didn’t see anyone swimming at Playa Negra, but I suppose you could if you didn’t mind the bigger waves.
The Black Sand Beach is one of the few on Vieques island which you can drive to on fully paved roads. Playa Negra is also close enough to Esperanza that you could walk there in about 40 minutes.
That said, you can’t drive all the way to Black Sand Beach; instead, it’s an enjoyable 0.5 mile walk through the jungle to the beach. If you keep your eyes peeled you may see some cute jungle critters, including tiny lizards, millipedes and some really big hermit crabs. The trail to Playa Negra gets soggy in spots making sports sandals a better option than flip-flops.
6. Punta Arenas Beach (Playa Punta Arenas)
Punta Arenas Beach is on the very western edge of the island within the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge. We were drawn here by its reputation as one of the most kid-friendly Vieques beaches, and we must admit to being very impressed.
A small, yet incredibly beautiful beach, Punta Arenas is lined by the jungle with many palm trees. You are so close to mainland Puerto Rico that you can even see a wind farm on its shores.
The water was so calm at this family-friendly beach that the tiny waves literally trickled ashore. It was like swimming in a large, warm bathtub with incredibly clear water. The one knock on Playa Punta Arenas is that the water gets deep quite quickly, so keep an eye on any little ones you may have playing in the surf.
7. Sun Bay Beach (Playa Sun Bay)
Sun Bay Beach is the closest beach to the main tourist town of Esperanza. If you have a rental Jeep it’s only about 5 minutes away from town.
Playa Sun Bay is a really long beach with soft, golden sand nicely protected from the Caribbean Sea by a large U-shaped bay. The scenery along Sun Bay Beach is quite nice with the hilly island Cayo de Terra on one side and a nicely forested peninsula on the other. Along the length of this popular Vieques beach are palm trees, giving it a wonderful tropical vibe.
The beach at Playa Sun Bay is so long, that it doesn’t ever seem to get crowded, even on weekends when this beach can get quite busy. The length of the beach is also really nice for family beach walks (one of my favorite things to do in the whole world)
We felt like Sun Bay Beach is a good beach for kids on Vieques. For the most part, the waves were pretty small even though it was a pretty windy day). The occasional large wave would crash ashore, so you’ll still need to keep an eye on your kids in the water.
The sand on Playa Sun Bay was a good quality for sand castles, and although the water was a bit on the chilly side, our kids didn’t seem to mind at all.
During our family beach walk, we discovered a really fun spot for kids on Sun Bay Beach. There’s a section of sand towards Esperanza which has some large rocks just offshore. This makes this spot on the beach less attractive for most, but your kids will love the shallow swimming pools these rocks create. As a bonus, the number of seashells along this section of the beach explode in number.
Tip: Wear flip flops or sports sandals from your car to the beach as there are some nasty burrs growing on some of the vegetation near the road. You won’t want to step on one of these with bare feet!
8. Media Luna Beach (Playa Media Luna)
We had read that Media Luna Beach was one of the most kid-friendly beaches in Vieques, so we were eager to visit it with our kids. But, to be honest, we were quickly disappointed with the quality of Playa Media Luna and question the claims about it being one of the best beaches in Vieques for families. It’s not.
Let’s start by being fair… whenever you are dealing with so many beautiful Caribbean beaches, it’s easy to quickly become a beach snob. Media Luna Beach is a nice enough beach, but compared to the other kid-friendly Vieques beaches, it doesn’t stack up.
There are some nice things about Media Luna Beach for families. For example, the beach is sheltered in a tight U-shaped cove, resulting in very little waves. In addition, the white sand is extremely soft, like talcum powder, and it’s quite good for sand castles. Finally, there are sheltered picnic tables scattered along the beach, and there are pelicans actively diving for fish just offshore.
There were several things we didn’t like about Playa Media Luna. The biggest factor was the fact that there was lots of shredded sea grass floating in the very shallow surf the whole way along the beach. Large amounts of seagrass in the water hitting your skin just feels gross and unpleasant.
Secondly, the beach is much dirtier (garbage, glass, etc.) than the others on this beautiful Caribbean island. Perhaps it’s the closest secluded beach to Esmerelda, making it a convenient party beach?
We also didn’t like the fact there were people fishing right on the sand. In our experience, wherever there are beach fishermen, there are fish hooks in the water and sand.
And finally, we came across several dead sea urchins on the beach. If they are on the beach, they are also in the water.
Note: If you still want to go, be aware that the final approach road to Media Luna Beach was one of the roughest roads we’ve encountered on Vieques so far. Our big Ford Bronco rental car made it without issue, but I’m not sure an off-road golf cart would.
9. Sea Glass Beach
Our kids love collecting sea glass, so when we discovered there’s a beach near Isabel Segunda called Sea Glass Beach, we knew we had to visit. We wish we hadn’t, as it is not one of the best beaches in Vieques.
We’ve talked to people who say they’ve hauled out pounds of sea glass from Sea Glass Beach, but it seems like too many people have harvested sea glass, and now it it’s mostly gone. During our visit to this rather ordinary, brown sand urban beach, there was hardly any sea glass at all. There was plenty of broken glass, but it was of the dangerous, broken beer bottle sort, not the charming, worn-down-by-the-sea kind.
We left Playa Caracas early to visit Sea Glass Beach. We shouldn’t have left such a beautiful beach to come here – it was a disappointment. Don’t waste your time – there are way nicer Vieques beaches.
We hope that our list of the best Vieques beaches helps you make the most of your trip to this incredible Puerto Rico island!
More Puerto Rico with Kids
We began our Puerto Rico family vacation with one day in San Juan with kids. After our full day in San Juan, we flew to Vieques with kids for a full week of fun in the Caribbean sun. With free-roaming wild horses, and countless kid-friendly beaches in Vieques, this is a perfect destination for your family vacation to Puerto Rico!
Family Beach Vacation Ideas
Dan Brewer is an intrepid family travel blogger with a passion for exploring the world's most captivating destinations. With 58 countries under his belt and a sense of wanderlust that knows no bounds, he has made it his life's mission to share his travel experiences and insights with fellow families who love to travel.
When Dan isn't traveling with his wife and kids, he's either out enjoying the Canadian Rockies he calls home or working on one of his three travel sites (Family Can Travel, Travel Banff Canada and Ultimate Sports Road Trip).