I’m not sure when I lost my interest in the beach, but I certainly remember the exact moment I rediscovered it. I spent much of my childhood going to the Jersey Shore, even after the days when hypodermic needles were washing up on the beach. The whole state gets a bad rap, but I remember the joys of swimming in the ocean and playing in the waves with friends and family. I never saw any needles. In fact, the beaches there were quite nice and, if I remember correctly, CROWDED!
Then followed the years in which I just stopped going to the beach. I wouldn’t swim in the ocean, and I didn’t love the sand. The sand felt dirty and was everywhere. I made 3 or 4 trips to the beach over 10 years; and while it was nice, I was never completely taken by it… until I made a trip to visit a pal in Costa Rica 8 years ago. We spent a few days in Manuel Antonio, and something was reawakened in me. No longer afraid of sand and “dirty” water or of who-knows-what grazing against the side of my leg in the mysterious ocean, I embraced the surrounding beauty and rekindled that old love. All it took was a secluded beach with crystal clear, warm water, and I was sold. It was tropical bliss– and a reminder of what I had missed all those years.
Like some relationships, my love of the beach is not unconditional. The beach has to be just right, and the beaches on Vieques are the perfect match for me. So here is a little bit about the beaches I got to know.
Sun Bay Beach aka Sombe Beach
Sun Bay Beach provides a great intro to the island beaches. It is on the south side of Vieques near Esperanza and right off the main road. You can’t miss the huge entrance. Most of the time you have to pay a few bucks to enter. Wild horses spend the day grazing in the field right behind the beach, a unique Vieques fixture. There are a few amenities (bathrooms and a food truck,) but I wouldn’t expect too much from the food truck. There were quite a few people, and while it was lovely, other Vieques beaches have a lot more to offer a beach aficionado.
Blue Beach aka Bahia de la Chiva
Several of the best beaches are inside the main entrance of the US Fish and Wildlife Reserve which is part of the naval base. These beaches are the quintessential Caribbean beaches. Blue Beach is wide and expansive with a view of a small island just offshore.The beach is shaped like a W. Straight out from the point in the center of the W there is some magnificent snorkeling. We saw sea turtles and a bunch of fish, but the manatee feeding on the grass was the highlight! I’m still very jealous of my husband’s sighting, although I did see that cute
little gigantic guy pop his head out of the water. Nick was flabbergasted when he almost bumped into it; and being that it was probably 5 times my size, I was too scared to get close enough to see it. Did I mention that I’m still jealous?
Secret Beach aka Pata Prieta
This beach is smaller and more contained than Blue Beach… although, it was not a secret to anyone on the day we found it. It was a national holiday, so the tranquility usually found on these beaches was non-existent……if we looked to the left.
Playa Plata aka Orchid Beach
We stopped by here, but our stay was quick. It was hard to find a clear stretch of sand. The small bay was pretty, and there is supposed to be great snorkeling here, but there was a lot of growth and dried seaweed washed ashore. To me, it wasn’t worth the effort to get there.
I know to some, these beaches all seem the same. Some people cannot simply sit at the beach all day. They need to be active and always doing something. Not me. That is doing something, isn’t it? I sit, enjoy the view, play in the ocean, stroll along the beach, sit, eat, have a beer, play in the ocean, stroll along the beach, read, and then wonder how the day is flying by!