Playa Caracas, Vieques
Located in the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge, Playa Caracas (aka Red Beach) is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Puerto Rico. The Navy occupied this area until 2003, restricting access to the beach for decades, so its white sand cove and crystal clear waters are incredibly preserved. These days, though, Playa Caracas tends to get crowded. The water is usually calm enough to snorkel, especially on the eastern side of the cove near the rock formations.
Vieques, a smaller island off Puerto Rico’s eastern coast, makes for a fantastic day trip (along with several other gorgeous sister islands around PR). Take the ferry from the mainland, which leaves from Ceiba, then grab a taxi to the beach. If you get bored, you can visit the Puerto Ferro Lighthouse, not too far from Playa Caracas. The ruined building might be fenced, but the views from its location are stunning. If you want to try a different beach, there’s also the small Black Sand Beach (Playa Negra). As the name suggests, the sand is black!
More things to do: For drinks and a good meal in Vieques, head to one of the several waterfront restaurants along the Malecon in Esperanza. This is where the night life happens! If you can, stay at least one night to go on a night kayaking trip at Mosquito Bay, the best and brightest bioluminescent bay in the world. Timing is important here -- make sure you see it under a new moon when it’s easier to see the millions of microorganisms in the water illuminate like blue fireflies.