A small island eight miles off the east coast of “mainland” Puerto Rico, Vieques is the honest-to-goodness island escape of your dreams, boasting white sand beaches and not a single traffic light. Vieques Island isn’t the travel destination for those looking for a packed itinerary trip, but it is the destination for those looking to slow down, relax and escape. Lucky for us, this easy-living paradise isn’t hard to get to from Condado Ocean Club; the island is accessible by a quick 25-minute flight out of San Juan International Airport or if you prefer boat, the Vieques Ferry out of Fajardo is available and is only an hour from San Juan.
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Photo Source: Viequesinsider.com[/caption]
Uncrowded BeachesThe hustle and bustle and nightlife of San Juan has something to offer for everyone, but what about the people looking to slow things down a little bit? Undeniably one of the biggest draws for Vieques Island is that you can escape the tourist crowds found in most tropical destinations. The island’s stunning beaches feel untouched by tourism and unspoiled by time. Each beach has a different type of sand, ranging from pure white to soft black. [caption id="attachment_4525" align="alignnone" width="800"]
Photo source: Vieques Wildlife Refuge[/caption]WildlifeThe Vieques National Wildlife Refuge is considered one of the most ecologically diverse wildlife refuges in the Caribbean and is the most extensive land National Wildlife Refuge in the Caribbean. The 20,000+ acres that make up the sanctuary include 190 species of birds, 22 amphibians and reptiles, and numerous mammals. Approximately 800 species of fish are known to inhabit the coastal waters, and many marine mammals are known to reside near the shore and in the deeper offshore waters surrounding Vieques Island. These include the Antillean manatee, humpback whale, sei whale, sperm whale, fin whale, the blue whale and multiple dolphin species (including the occasional Orca pod). Learn More. [caption id="attachment_4526" align="aligncenter" width="800"]
Photo source: Viequesinsider.com[/caption]
In addition to the abundance of marine life species found here, Vieques is well known for the wild horses that roam the island. They can be found all over the island and have become an essential part of the community. Starting over a decade ago, the island’s community has become invested in their care, creating programs to check on the health of the free-roaming herds and also employ a mare contraceptive program to help control the population from extending beyond the available resources. The horses may be free-roaming, but most of them certainly don’t mind a free hand-out from tourists.
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Photo source: iTour Puerto Rico[/caption]Bioluminescent BayPollution and severe weather have impacted the experience of bioluminescent bays all over the world. Despite the outside forces, Vieques is still home to the awe-inspiring Mosquito Bay. Located in a cove named after a legendary pirate ship, Mosquito Bay is the most massive Bioluminescent Bay in the world, and has long been a favorite destination of travelers to the island. To preserve this natural wonder, Vieques has banned swimming in the bay after learning that the chemicals in sunscreen and bug spray were killing the bioluminescent dinoflagellates.[caption id="attachment_4528" align="aligncenter" width="800"]
Photo Source: El Blok[/caption]AccommodationsWhile Vieques is a small island, it doesn’t lack unique options for where to stay. Among your choices are two very unique hotels, Hix Island House and El Blok. El Blok is located across the street from the beach and centrally located along Esperanza’s El Malecon, and boasts 22 rooms in a hip, social, adults only environment. Hot Dj’s and cool bands can be found playing from the rooftop during friendly gatherings and the world-class locally sourced food is served 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Learn more. [caption id="attachment_4529" align="aligncenter" width="800"]
Photo Source: Hix Island House[/caption]The Hix Island House is a luxurious retreat amongst the zen-like architectural hotel backdrop. They feature innovative self-contained spacious rooms that highlight excellent views of the Caribbean and palm-lined beaches, private open-air terraces, and outdoor showers to bathe under the star-studded skies. It was also recently named by Vogue to be one of the Most Insta-Worthy Hotels in the World. Learn more. Hunter S. Thompson described Vieques as "The only place I'd seen in ten years where I'd felt a sense of peace" in his book, The Rum Diary. He felt as many who visit do, that Vieques has that perfect combination of peaceful calm and exciting discovery. Go find out for yourself!