The island’s best beaches are on the southern coast. The most spectacular is the long white crescent and calm waters of Balneario Sun Bay (Sombé) (Carr. 997, east of Esperanza, 787/741-8198, daily 9 a.m.–5 p.m., $2). It’s the only publicly maintained beach in Vieques .
Surrounded by a tall cyclone fence, it has plenty of modern, fairly clean facilities, including bathrooms, showers, changing rooms, a snack bar, and guards. Camping is permitted for $10 a day, reservations required (787/741-8198). Adding to the charm of the place is the herd of horses that grazes here.
The Balneario Sun Bay complex also encompasses two smaller, more secluded beaches farther eastward along a sandy road. The first one you’ll encounter is Media Luna, a protective cove where the water is shallow. Farther eastward is Navio Beach, which sometimes has large waves and is popular with gay beachgoers.
If you want something remote and untamed, venture onto the former Camp Garcia to get to Red Beach and Blue Beach (daily 6 a.m.–6 p.m.). Traveling south on Carretera 997, turn left at the sign onto a dirt road about halfway between Isabel Segunda and Esperanza. Follow the signs past the old Navy airstrip and turn right to reach Red Beach, or continue about two more miles and then fork right to arrive at Blue Beach.
On the extreme western end of the island is Green Beach, at the end of a dirt road off Carretera 200 (look for the 300-year-old ceiba tree with the massive trunk along the way). It features a narrow strip of sand punctuated by coral outcroppings and a view of the main island. There’s good snorkeling to be found here, and lots of starfish to be discovered in the shallow waters along Laguna Kiani, on the north shore as you head eastward from Punta Arenas. But whatever you do, don’t stay on Green Beach past about 4 p.m. because that’s when the tiny, voracious sand gnats descend.
Esperanza Beach is a fairly unremarkable beach along that community’s strip of restaurants and guesthouses. But it’s within walking distance if you’re staying in town and offers excellent snorkeling, especially around Cayo Afuera, a tiny islet just offshore.