The island of Vieques is famous for the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world (and that’s not all)

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The island of Vieques in Puerto Rico is known as one of the last great Caribbean destinations and has some of the most beautiful beaches.

Tropical sunrise – Vieques, Puerto Rico


Puerto Rico is more than an island; the Commonwealth includes a number of minor islands – the largest of which is Vieques (officially Isla de Vieques). Puerto Rico may be one of the last pieces of territory acquired by the United States, but its capital, San Juan, is the oldest colonial city in the United States.


Vieques is known as one of the last Caribbean destinations that still resembles the old Caribbean. It is uncrowded, lush, and generally unsurpassed in its natural beauty. The island has a perfectly tropical marine climate with only minimal temperature variations. Next time in Puerto Rico, consider visiting its beautiful offshore islands.

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What to know about the second island of Puerto Rico

Vieques is located next to the US Virgin Islands (which are, in turn, next to the British Virgin Islands). Vieques is part of a group of islands called the Spanish Virgin Islands (the other island in the group is Culebra). The islands retain a strong influence from the Spanish, who ruled the island for 400 years (until it was won by the United States in the Spanish-American War).

Vieques is located just 8 miles or 13 kilometers off the east coast of mainland Puerto Rico. It is sometimes considered the much larger island of Puerto Rico’s little sister and has been nicknamed Isla Nena (“Island of Little Girls”).

  • Length: 20 miles or 32 kilometers
  • Lenght: 4.5 miles or 7 kilometers
  • Population: 8,250
  • Main city : Florida
  • Administrative city: Isabelle Segunda

For years, the US Navy used the island as a firing range and proving ground. The navy left in 2003 and the former navy land is now a national wildlife refuge. The former military land makes up 70% of the island’s total area and was touted as the Caribbean’s next big thing with the departure of the navy in 2003. This means that until then most of the he island remained undeveloped. Development remained slow and discreet.

Related: Book These 10 All-Inclusive Resorts in Puerto Rico for a Uniquely Exotic Caribbean Getaway

Vieques’ beaches are among the best in the Caribbean

The island is famous for its stunning beaches – some of the best are on the eastern end of the island, where the marine base was located. The island’s beaches are considered one of the best beaches in the Caribbean, as they offer white sand and azure waters.

The island has dozens of undeveloped beach coves that visitors can explore. Caracas beach is considered one of the all time favorites with its white sand and crystal clear waters. Another great beach is La Chiva Beach, with its calm waters and great snorkeling and swimming.

  • Large beaches: Caracas Beach, La Chiva Beach, Sun Bay Beach, Black Beach, Navio Beach

Mosquito Bay – The brightest bioluminescent bay in the world

Vieques is home to Mosquito Bay, the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world. It was even recognized as the brightest by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2006. It was also named one of the Seven Wonders of the World of the 2020s by Condé Nast Traveler.

One of the best ways to explore this natural wonder is to take a kayak tour of the bay (choose a glass-bottom kayak).

If one wishes to see the bay’s bioluminescence at its best, be sure to plan your trip around the phases of the moon. The luminescence is best on nights when there is a new moon or a crescent moon. The bay is part of the Vieques Wildlife Refuge.

Related: This Florida Bioluminescent Tour Will Light Up Your Vacation

Getting to the island of Vieques by sea and air

It is quite easy to reach Vieques as visitors can get there by air or sea. The fastest way to catch a small flight from SJU or Isla Grande airports.

  • Flight cost: $60-90 per trip

Alternatively, visitors can take a much cheaper ferry (costs $2). The ferry leaves from Ceiba and takes about 40 minutes. Note that the ferry schedule may change due to maintenance and weather. The ferries make round trips every two hours. They start at 4:00 a.m. and end for the day at 8:30 p.m.

  • Ferry cost: $2.00
  • Duration: 40 minutes

Once on the island, visitors can enjoy many activities like the beach, snorkeling, horseback riding, and hiking.

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