Sun Bay – The Perfect Beach for a Day-trip to Vieques
Visiting Vieques is usually best done as a multi-day trip — when you have time to rent a car and explore the most remote beaches. But what do you do if your vacation schedule only allows time to spend one day on Vieques? Head on over to Vieques and spend the day at Sun Bay, one of the many beautiful beaches on the island. Sun Bay (or Sombe to the locals) is a pretty beach with all the facilities necessary to make for a pleasant day trip. And it’s easy to get to using public transportation.
Getting to Sun Bay Beach
You can get to Vieques via passenger ferry from Fajardo, or by flying from the San Juan (SJU), Isla Grande (SIG) or Ceiba (RVR) airports. What’s the best way to get to Vieques? Well, that’s really an individual decision. It’s commonly said that "If you have more time than money, take the ferry. If you have more money than time, take a plane". So it’s really up to you.
No matter how you choose to travel between the islands, once you get to Vieques, you can ask any of the many taxis (publicos) to take you to Sun Bay beach. The charge is $5/person, one-way. The driver will typically arrange a time to pick you up from the beach for your return trip back to the airport or ferry dock.
A Day at the Beach
Once you get to Sun Bay, your biggest decision will be where to sit. The beach is a 2-mile crescent of light-colored sand with blue Caribbean water separating you from the little islands off in the distance. It has all the makings of a picture-postcard and a lovely day. There are palms and other types of trees that provide shade all along the beach. A roped-off swimming area with lifeguards allows for easy and (assumed) safe swimming.
Sun Bay is the easiest beach on Vieques to access without your own car, so it is also the most "crowded". This beach is popular with families, especially on weekends, but there is always plenty of room for everyone. When we went, there were about 15 groups of sun bathers. Not crowded at all! But if that is too much for you, you can walk along the beach until you find your own quiet spot. If you walk to the right (facing the water), you can actually walk to Esperanza Malecon, though it’s probably about a ½ mile walk.
I think to get the most enjoyment out of this beach, you have to pick the best spot given the conditions of the day. We chose to stay near the cafeteria. But the day we went, there were some high seas and a good amount of wind. Looking back, I realize that we would have been better situated elsewhere on the beach. As we walked to the east (walk to the left when facing the water), we found calmer waters and more protection from the wind. And for waves, we walked to the right — there is usually more surf in that area. So take your time and search out the best spot given the conditions and your personal needs. Just as a sidenote, there really isn’t any good snorkeling at Sun Bay, though you may find some starfish or conch in the sea grass areas.
Sun Bay is the only beach on Vieques with facilities — there is a designated swimming area with lifeguards, working bathrooms, showers, and a cafeteria for food, drinks and snacks. And for 2012-2013, it has been designated a prestigious Blue Flag Beach. You can bring your own cooler with food and drinks, but the cafeteria actually had decent food, lots of cold drinks (ice cream too!) and reasonable prices.
One nice bonus is the wild horses that visit Sun Bay (usually during the afternoon). They are so pretty and pose for pictures. But be careful where you step!
Sun Bay also has a campground administered by the Compania de Parques Nacionales. The fee is $10 per night. You have to bring your own tent and gear (or you can rent things from Black Beard Sports in Isabel Segunda). You don’t need to make a reservation for a camp site, though it might be good to do during holiday weekends! Supposedly check in is until 4pm, but if you get there later, you can just pay the next day. Call 787-741-8198 for campground information. I have heard it is not safe to leave ANYTHING (tent included!) there when you leave for the day. It may not be there when you return.
The beach itself is free. There is a $3 charge to park if you have a rental car.
Balneario Sun Bay is on the south coast of Vieques, to the east of Esperanza, off of Road 997
Use this map to locate places mentioned in this article. You can click on a placemark to view the GPS coordinates for that place.