Just six miles off the coast, Vieques is home to a pristine wildlife refuge and the world's brightest bioluminescent bay.
As the biggest of the islands sometimes referred to as the Spanish Virgin Islands, Vieques lies six miles southeast of the Puerto Rico mainland. The Puerto Rican poet Luis Llorens Torres dubbed it la Isla Nena (“Little Girl Island”), alluding to its perception as Puerto Rico’s little sister.
Vieques offers breathtaking scenery, unparalleled beauty, unexplored spaces, and laid-back experiences. The trade winds that blow directly over the island also provide a perfectly tropical marine climate with minimal temperature fluctuations.
Reaching Vieques can be done by air or sea. The fastest way is to catch a small plane departing from either SJU or Isla Grande airports (tickets range from $60–$90 per trip), and there is also a ferry that departs from the town of Ceiba (about 40 minutes from SJU airport).
Things to Do
Beaches and Natural Wonders
More than 60% of Vieques is covered by the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge, which includes several beaches, bays, mangrove forests, salt flats, and trails. Spend the day hiking, bird-watching, beach-hopping, kayaking, sailing, diving, paddleboarding, or horseback riding, depending on your mood.
Recognized in 2006 by the Guinness World Records as the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world, Mosquito Bay’s glow-in-the-dark phenomenon is due to an abundance of tiny dinoflagellates — about 1,000,000 to 2,100,000 microorganisms per gallon of water! The lack of light pollution further enhances this natural spectacle as you move through the bay by kayak or electric boat.
Some of the most astonishing and alluring beaches in Puerto Rico can be found on Vieques. Popular Sun Bay offers soft white sand, turquoise waters, and a lush landscape dotted with palm trees. True to its name, Black Sand Beach will greet you with black sand as fine as baby powder and golden cliffs with naturally carved ridges.
Fortín Conde de Mirasol is a small fort that sits on a hill, providing a fantastic view of the mainland and nearby cays. Although never completed, this was the last fort built by the Spaniards in the Americas. It now houses an art and history museum, and hosts the Historic Archives along with a radio station. You can also visit the Punta Mulas Lighthouse and stroll through its museum about the history of the island.
Fresh seafood, farm-to-table fare, and traditional Puerto Rican cuisine are all awaiting you on Vieques.
El Quenepo offers fine dining that exalts the freshest ingredients in dishes such as traditional mofongo and tostones de pana, as well as whole lobsters, grouper, and scallops.
For a fusion of Mexican flavors with a Puerto Rican twist, try Coqui Fire Café (make sure to try their signature margarita!). Reservations are recommended at both of these restaurants.
Stylish and laid-back, El Blok is one of the hottest tickets in town, with its beachfront location and unique design evoking sublime underwater settings. Crafted to look like a piece of coral removed from the nearby sea, its open spaces and intricate cutouts in the concrete create unique natural lighting.
Hix Island House is an eco-chic guesthouse where the outdoors become the indoors. Derived from the Japanese Wabi Sabi philosophy, the 19 self-contained lofts surrounded by forest allow for the trade winds to drift through the open, glassless windows and draped balconies.
There are also several guest houses, B&Bs, and unique vacation rentals with incredible beachfront views and comfortable amenities. Among the top choices are Casa de Amistad, which has a library, kitchen, pool, and rooftop deck; Malecón House, offering lush gardens, a pool, and private balconies; and Martineau Belle Playa, a very private and exclusive ocean front luxury villa with pool and gazebo.