Finding a quiet Caribbean Island is not easy since tourists seem to be everywhere, but Vieques, an island of Puerto Rico, is a beach lover’s dream.
Vieques is just seven miles off the east coast of Puerto Rico, but it is a world away in solitude and its laidback style. As a part of Puerto Rico, Vieques is American so it is an easy visit for U.S. citizens. You don’t have to have a passport, you use U.S. dollars, and they speak English.
We opted to fly to Vieques, which took less than 30 minutes. The plane from San Juan, Puerto Rico was very small, and luggage was extremely limited. We left our suitcases at our hotel in San Juan and just took carry-on bags for our time on this small island. Our small bags were large enough for the limited wardrobe needed on the island, primarily bathing suits and a casual outfit or two. You can take a boat from Fajardo if flying in a small plane is not something you enjoy.
Once we arrived on Vieques, we rented a car which is a necessity on the island. Driving is easy, though, since the roads aren’t crowded. Vieques is 55 square miles and has fewer than 10,000 residents. At 21 miles long and 5 miles wide, the island is easy to find your way around. We were warned at the rental car location to take nothing of value with us when we went to the beach and to leave our car doors unlocked and the windows open so that vandals wouldn’t break the windows in search of valuables. We followed these directions carefully, but we seldom saw any people on the beaches we went to a far as we could see in any direction. We enjoyed the splendid solitude, the beautiful beaches, and the calm waters.
There are things to do on the island in addition to swimming and lying on the beach. Vieques is home to Mosquito Bay, the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world. A tour is required to visit the bay since it is a protected park, but it is a must-do experience, especially during a new moon when the skies are at their darkest. The water is this bay is swarming with organisms that give off a bright burst of blue light when they come in contact with people or boats or anything. Mosquito Bay has the perfect environment for these organisms to thrive: it is shallow, the mouth of the bay is small, and the bay is surrounded with mangrove trees whose roots provide nutrients needed for food. We were able to swim in the bay when we visited, but swimming is now prohibited so visitors take boat or kayak rides. Take the latest tour possible to ensure the darkest sky and best views.
During the day, visitors can see wild Paso Fino horses whose ancestors were brought over by Spaniards. Spaniards also left Fortin Conde de Mirasol which was one of the last Spanish forts built in the Americas. The fort now houses an art gallery and history museum. There are opportunities for fishing, snorkeling, diving, kayaking, and more. In addition, Vieques is home to many small restaurants that feature excellent, fresh seafood in a friendly, intimate setting.
Lodging options are varied, from large to small hotels to Bed and Breakfasts, from budget-friendly to luxurious, visitors have many choices. While the island suffered damage during Hurricane Maria, the majority of the island stands ready to welcome tourists to share its relaxing comforts and explore its natural beauty.