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Caribbean-On-Line » Caribbean Travel Advisor » Puerto Rico » Vieques » Vieques, of The Spanish Virgins

Vieques, of The Spanish Virgins

vieques-beach.jpgYou've heard of the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, but what about the Spanish? Top among the Spanish V.I. is Vieques, located just eight miles off the eastern tip of Puerto Rico. It's small, verdant and easy to reach, accessible by frequent ferry from Fajardo, or by air from San Juan and Tortola. For 60 years, most of Vieques was off limits, the U.S. military treating it like a punching bag using the western and eastern parts of the island as a weapons testing ground. When the military took leave just a few years ago, these areas opened as protected parkland. Lack of development has been a boon for this island. The pristine coastline is punctuated with wonderful sandy coves and natural beaches -- most still bearing droll military nomenclature like Green, Red and Blue beach.

So many beaches so little time. They are all so different: some palm fringed, others flanked by rocky coastline, but the biggest draw is luminescense. The spectacular Bioluminescent bay is filled with micro-organisms that glow under the moonlight whenever the water is disturbed, leaving a trail of neon blue. Check it out by organized kayak tour leaving nightly from Esperanza, the sleepy backpacker's village on the south coast.

vieques-lighthouse.jpgWhile Vieques is Spanish speaking (like Puerto Rico), English is widely understood. Renting a jeep is the best way to see the entire island. You'll need it to traverse the rutted dirt roads when beach hopping. Tip: leave nothing of value in your vehicle. Theft from unattended parked cars is rampant on the island.

Dining can be excellent at the island's two towns. At Isabel Segunda, check out The Blue Macaw. And watch sundown with the rest of the ex-pats at Al's. In Esperanza, you'll find a host of reasonably priced restaurants, as well as local street food.

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