Lying within these protected confines are the best reasons to visit Vieques. This 18,000-acre refuge occupies the land formerly used by the US military. The 3100-acre western segment was used mainly as a storage area during the military occupation and is very quiet. The 14,700-acre eastern segment, which includes a former live firing range (still off-limits), has the island's best beaches along its southern shore. Both sections have beaches that are considered among the most beautiful in Puerto Rico.
The visitors center (8am to noon and 1pm to 3pm Monday to Friday) in the refuge's eastern side has a small nature center with exhibits on the reserve's flora, fauna and ecology but was closed for reconstruction at the time of research.