So many choices, so little time.

The secret is out.  In just a few short years Vieques has grown from a snorkeling hidden treasure to one of the top snorkel destinations in the Caribbean.  With its miles of accessible shoreline, numerous open water and inshore reefs, diversity of sea life and assortment of healthy corals Vieques offers nearly unlimited opportunities to explore beauty and harmony in an amazing underwater ecosystem.  As a result, expert and novice adventurers from the States, Europe and other Caribbean locales are making Vieques a priority on their must-snorkel agendas. Let the Vieques Insider help find the snorkel experience best suited for you.

Without question, a snorkel charter or guided tour will offer the best opportunity to observe the beautiful underwater seascape of Vieques.  The charter captains and tour guides are experienced professionals, familiar with the reefs and the conditions that can influence clarity, current and other factors that will determine where and when snorkeling will be optimal.

Open Water Reefs

Accessible only by boat, the open water reefs of Vieques offer some of the most spectacular snorkeling found anywhere. Diverse reef systems with an ever changing assortment of corals and sea life fill your senses with an incredible display of color and light. Off the South Shore sits Lemon and Blue Tang Reefs.  The North Shore hosts Cayo Blanco and Mosquito Reefs. Each of these reefs is unique in its offerings, but what they share is the ability to provide a wonderful habitat to all the life that resides within. To access these one of a kind open water reefs contact a charter captain.

Snorkel Tours

Interested in exploring the inshore reefs? Tour operators on Vieques can accommodate your needs.  By kayak or swim these inexpensive tours will put you on outstanding inshore reefs best suited for your ability and experience. They’re perfect for experts seeking a more remote adventure or families who want to share the adventure with children.  The tour guides can customize your adventure.

Exploration Snorkel

For those who want to venture off on their own there is plenty to enjoy. On both the North and South Shores there are a plethora of beaches offering easy access and a jump in the water to explore their magnificent underwater seascapes.  If you’ve brought your own equipment then it’s off to the beach.  If not, stop at Blackbeard Sports in Isabella Segundo for rentals or purchase.

North Shore

Rompeolas

Located two miles west of the airport on Highway 200 this mile long pier-road is suited for both the novice and expert. Park on the side of the road just before the guard house and enter via the steps on the leeward or west side.  Snorkel the rocky shoreline out to the ferry terminal. Depths will reach 40 feet at the end of the dock.  This is one of the most popular spots for turtle sightings.

Punta Arenas

Continue west on 200 to the entrance of the Wildlife Reserve then follow the road to the beach.  Novice snorkelers should enter the water by the gazebo. A south wind will deter visibility.  This long reef is loaded with sea life and corals.  Manatee have also been seen on Punta Arenas. Best times are between 10 am and 2 pm.

El Gallito

The first beach on Rt. 200, just west of the W Hotel, holds two reefs.  The first reef is located in a popular surfing area. If you see surfers, move on.  The waves will be strong enough to push you into the reef. When calm, these are great reefs to view large groups of Blue Tangs and other schooling fish. The second reef requires some experience. Experts should swim west around the point.

SOUTH Shore

The best snorkel locations on the south shore are in the Wildlife Reserve. Follow the signs.

Caracas

Bring the kids. Caracas is a swimming beach so head to the left or right sides to enter the water.  Usually calm, this location has rocky areas on the east end and usually very good visibility. Look for rays.

La Chiva 10

La Chiva 10 is undoubtedly the standout beach for underwater photography.  A novice should keep close to the shoreline. The experts can swim out to deeper water.  Rays, Tarpon, and various corals will put your head on a swivel, so keep track of your partner.

Tres Palmittas

Just after turning towards Caracas the sign for Tres Palmittas is on the right. Follow to a parking lot then take the hiking trail. It ends at a beautiful secluded beach. Enter the water and swim around the point to your left. This is an EXPERT ONLY snorkel that requires an arduous half hour walk and an even more difficult deep water swim. Please do not attempt unless conditions, yours and the weather, are conducive. If your timing is right this could very well be the highlight of your visit.

Sea Life You May Encounter

Turtle, ray, shark, barracuda, octopus, eel, conch, lobster, manatee, sea urchin, starfish, crab and too many species of tropical fish to name.

These are just a few of the snorkel opportunities sure to inspire your imagination until you return to spend more time “On The Water”.

About The Author

Captain Tom Kirkbright
writer • on the water

Tom Kirkbright, writer • on the water ........................................... Tom Kirkbright, a USCG Licensed Captain, and his wife Caroline first set foot on Vieques in 2004. They fell in love with its people, beaches and charm. They bought a house and moved from NJ to enjoy the island life and spend time “On The Water”.

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