Our next stop was Blue Beach, which we’d also visited on several occasions.
A real stunner even now, this beach was reportedly much more beautiful before the U.S. Navy decided to play war games up and down its length in the 1950s.
One sunny afternoon the 65th Infantry, determined to defeat its “faux” foe at any cost, ingloriously hacked down the thick grove of coconut trees fringing the beach and laced the stumps with barbed wire to prevent the “enemy” from landing.
Although the maneuver was (duh) predictably effective, the beach has never looked the same. If there had been a real war, these antics might be excusable; but as a mere exercise, the destruction of so many beautiful trees is much harder to forgive.
Even so, Blue Beach isn’t exactly what you’d call an eyesore. Its long strip of sand unfurls like a white carpet between a thick crop of bright green seagrapes to the north and the azure sea to the south. At its far end the beach curves outward toward a flat, pebbly point that provides an ideal spot for lounging and general navel-gazing.
The dazzling view is punctuated by a small, densely-vegetated island—La Chiva, or the goat— which lies in the center of the bay several hundred feet from shore, and is said by all and sundry to be a snorkelers’ paradise.
For the faint of heart or pale of skin, Blue Beach provides a number of concrete and timber pavilions that seem to be more popular with locals than visitors. We generally avoid them unless rain seems likely, in which case they provide a deliciously cozy haven.
Otherwise we tend to drive along the main road…
…until we come across a turn-off where no cars are parked, then swing in, unpack our stuff and wander out to the first perfect-looking patch of sand (never closer than fifty feet from the nearest occupant).
This particular day we were in luck: our favorite spot was empty. We pulled into the shallow driveway and maneuvered the car around to face outward, taking care not to get stuck in the deep sand on either side while at the same time positioning the car in an alpha-auto stance that fairly screamed, “yes, you have every right to join us but we were here first.”
We had become so practiced at unloading the car that it barely took us three minutes to grab the cooler, chairs, umbrella and backpacks that constituted the essentials of our Vieques beach experience.
Five minutes later Michael had identified our campsite du jour (located by some unfathomable Zen process of divination), and within ten minutes we were lathered up with sunblock and fully prepared to do absolutely nothing for several hours.