Just six miles east of mainland Puerto Rico lies the island of Vieques. What used to be the best-kept secret, the island is now one of the hottest destinations for a Caribbean beach vacation. Though it measures just 55 square miles, Vieques brims with natural flora, exotic animals, secluded beaches, and gracious people. It’s allure is that it is rustic and elegant at the same time. Driving on the narrow roads you will pass riders on horseback, kiosks selling grilled pinchos and locally caught seafood, and students in their school uniforms on their way to or from school.

This unique Caribbean island is part of the United States, but it feels a world away from the frenzied pace of urban life. Step back in time to a place where schedules really are set by the rhythms of the waves and the brightness of the moon, and the soundscape comes from coqui frogs, trotting horses and the early morning calls of free-range roosters. You will find a relaxed way of life on Vieques and if you are in a hurry… you are in the wrong place. While Spanish is the primary language, English is widely spoken.

Getting to Vieques is easy, and Americans don’t need a passport. Flights to the island’s regional airport depart from San Juan, Ceiba, Isla Grande and Culebra in Puerto Rico, as well as from neighboring islands like St. Thomas and St. John. Ferries travel several times a day between Vieques and Fajardo on the east coast of Puerto Rico.

Vieques boasts more than 20 breathtaking and diverse beaches, each with its own character and appeal. Horses roam freely across the island, often flanked by elegant white egrets and brightly colored flamboyan trees dot the hillsides. There are no stoplights, fast-food chains, nightclubs, or shopping malls… the attractions are mother nature’s creations.

No trip to Vieques is complete without an excursion to Mosquito Bay, the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world. At night, microscopic organisms called dinoflagellates make the water glow bright blue. The effect is explained by science, but it feels more like magic. (More info)

Sea to Table has special meaning on Vieques where, from your beach chair or barstool, you can watch the local fishermen in their small boats catch the fish or lobster that you will dine on that evening. From fine dining to roadside kiosks the food is fresh and delicious.

Accommodations on the island range from budget hostels to private villas. Most guesthouses encourage visitors to get out and experience the island, but a handful of luxury properties offer full-service, resort-like amenities.

Vieques boasts a fascinating history, touched by characters ranging from pirates to sugar farmers to the US Navy.

 What are you waiting for?  Come to Vieques and swim in the crystal-clear Caribbean Sea. Hike out to hidden respites like Playa Negra or Playuela. Let your server recommend a local dish you’ve never tried before. Grab your snorkel gear and head Las Rompeolas for an afternoon underwater with sea turtles and schools of ballyhoo. Chat with a new friend over a round of Medallas at a beachside bar. Listen to the coqui calls as you scan the sky for shooting stars. It’s all within easy reach on Vieques.

 

About The Author

Amy Gordon
writer • freelance travel

Amy Gordon is a freelance travel writer who doesn’t feel quite right without a tan. Her articles have appeared in outlets including Harper Traveler, Where Traveler, BizBash, and Slow Living.

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