Family Vacations to Vieques, Puerto Rico
|Six miles off the coast of San Juan, Vieques lures tourists with lush flora, rolling hills, and stunning coastline (courtesy, Puerto Rico Tourism)|
Vieques Family Travel Tips
Even in the Caribbean, where turquoise waters and sugar-soft sands abound, secluded oases are becoming increasingly rare. Off the eastern shore of Puerto Rico, less than a 30-minute flight or a short ferry ride from bustling San Juan, is the island Vieques. Located six miles off mainland coast, Vieques has certainly been "discovered." Although there's much land speculation, at least for now the island has few crowds, great beaches, and interesting eco-adventures.
On Vieques, Mosquito Bay, nicknamed Bio Bay, offers the Caribbean's bestsome say one of the planet's bestexamples of bioluminescence. Disturb the mega-millions of dinoflagellates living in these waters, and they light-up like fireflies, creating electric blue flashes in the water. Choose from a nocturnal kayak ride (quieter and calmer) or boat tours. Jump in the bay, float on your back, and wave your arms and legs to fashion foamy glowing "water angels." During the day, kayak through the bay's mangrove-lined banks and listen for the mangrove cuckoos, found near the tamandrillo and mesquite trees.
With the cessation of artillery drills and the departure of the Navy in 2003, came the establishment of the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge. On a guided bike tour, pedal back roads through the refuge and areas formerly off-limits as part of the U.S. Navy base. In the huge bunkers, once ammunition storehouses, bat colonies now hang from the ceiling. Most bike trips end with a well-deserved swim at one of the 30-plus beaches on the island, typically the secluded Green Beach.
Coconut palms and sea grape trees shade mile-long Sun Bay Beach, which has picnic tables and bathrooms. Snorkelers head to the waters off Blue Beach, known for its sea fans, brain coral, and parrotfish.
One of Vieques' two towns, Esperanza, on the south shore, is home to the Vieques Conservation and Historical Trust. Along with educating locals and visitors about the island's wildlife, the facility maintains several touch tanks of critters. Young kids especially like the turtles and starfish. In Isabel Segunda, on the island's north shore, the restored Fort Count Mirasol, built between 1845 and 1855, is the last fort constructed during the Spanish Empire in the New World. It houses a small museum of island history and an art gallery.
Tip: The best time to experience Bio Bay is when there is no moonlight.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
Best Hotels in Vieques