Since the United States Navy ceased military operations in 2003, this small 21-mile-long tropical island just off the coast of mainland Puerto Rico has seen a boom in business. Clearly it’s off the radar for most people as this place is NOT St. Barth! And that’s the good news and the bad news. The people on Vieques are mostly young white 20 somethings or aging hippies looking for a laid back place to hang their hat for a while and some in between. No celebrity sightings or Europeans dressed up or even topless to stare at on Nikki Beach in SB. The white-sand beaches and coral reefs here in Vieques are all private and accessible by 4 wheelers so you can be completely alone to nude sunbathe if you choose. And just to jog your memory from when the island was used as site for test bombing, turning the beaches into one big practice range, the names of the beaches stuck at Red Beach, Blue Beach, Green Beach etc… and they are gorgeous… checked them all out… on mountain bike of course. I’m not a sun worshiper or beach bum, so there was enough activity for the weekend between morning and evening yoga. Wild horses share the road in Vieques with their owners nowhere in sight. The new W “whatever whenever” is the place to stay but definitely get out and eat at the local restaurants in the cool town of Esperanza. Loved El Quenepo and Duffys! In the middle of the island is another great low key place to eat called Next Course. But the coolest by far on the island was “swimming with stars”! Without getting too scientific, the island boasts a Bio Bay containing trillions of micro-organisms (dinoflagellates) that act as “living lights” emitting flashes of blue-green light when the water is stirred. We took a glass bottom canoe out at night with Gary from Vieques Adventure who was a complete character and let us swim in this magical mass. My seatmate on the plane coming into Vieques told me that the Bio Bay excursion would change my life. Well it didn’t quite do that but it was definitely a must on the to do checklist on the island.
Sleeping was blissful listening to the sounds of the coqui, a tiny endangered frog whose image is on everything from t-shirts to hot sauce. If you didn’t know better, you’d swear they were chirping birds.