CHASING THE MAP

Playa Caracas, “Red Beach,” Vieques

Playa Caracas, formerly known as Red Beach, is one of the more accessible beaches to reach by car. When someplace is easy to get to, it’s also more populated; don’t let this stop you from visiting one of the more picturesque spots on the island.

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Finding Caracas couldn’t be simpler. Enter the Reserve off Route 997 and follow the road until you see a sign on the right for Caracas. Follow that road directly to the beach. There’s a large parking area with ample parking.

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The beach itself is a gorgeous, 1/4 mile stretch of soft, white sand and sparkling turquoise waters. There are some palm trees that dot the beach, and offer shade from the beating sun.

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You’ll also find 9 cabanas spread out along the edge of the beach. They all have picnic tables, as well as barbecue pits for an afternoon beachside grill fest. These are popular, so you’ll need to get there early (especially during high season) if you want to snag one. I was there during low season, and could have easily claimed one for my own if I’d wanted to.

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Caracas is a popular gathering beach, with large groups often getting together to spend the day swimming, eating, and drinking. Music is often coming at you from every direction. While I was there, a group of 4 friends actually brought a full-size wireless speaker, placed it on a towel right next to the water, and enjoyed their tunes while they lounged in the ocean.

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I’d recommend flip flops or shoes when walking on the grassy areas of the beach. Sandburs are prevalent and do not feel good when they’re stuck on your feet. If you’re not a fan of needle pricks, definitely beware the sandbur! I was not wearing flip flops one time and was unpleasantly surprised when a bur got embedded in my big toe.

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On the several occasions that I was there, the water was relatively calm. Not glass-like by any means, but the waves were gentle and inviting. Several snorkelers explored the waters and many swimmers, most with adult beverages in hand, dotted the landscape. Although I was never the only one on the beach, I didn’t feel overwhelmed by crowds or noise. It’s easy to spread out and find your own piece of paradise for the day.

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