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  • Writer's pictureAlanna Colon

VIEQUES ISLAND, PR

Updated: Aug 29, 2023


Vieques is home to Mosquito Bay, the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world, and with dozens of undeveloped beach coves, one can experience the true meaning of tropical bliss.

Did you know? Microscopic organisms called Pyrodinium bahamense, generate a phosphorus blue glow when agitated.


"The island's name is a Spanish spelling of a Native American word said to mean "small island". It also has the nickname Isla Nena, usually translated as "Little Girl Island", alluding to its perception as Puerto Rico's little sister. "

Vieques Island

Vieques, in full Isla de Vieques, is an island–municipality of Puerto Rico, in the northeastern Caribbean, part of an island grouping sometimes known as the Spanish Virgin Islands.

Vieques Island is located just a short 6 miles off the southeast coast of Puerto Rico, the Star of the Caribbean. For sixty years the majority of Vieques was closed off by the US Navy, and the island remained almost entirely undeveloped for tourism.


The island's name is a Spanish spelling of a Native American (likely Taíno) word said to mean "small island". It also has the nickname Isla Nena, usually translated as "Little Girl Island", alluding to its perception as Puerto Rico's little sister. The island was given this name by the Puerto Rican poet Luis Llorens Torres. During the colonial period, the British name was "Crab Island".

Names used for Vieques:
  • Isla de Vieques – Official Name

  • Bieke – Named by the Indians

  • Isla Nena – kindly called by residents which translates to little girl island

  • Vieques Island – English

  • Spanish Virgin Islands – Named commonly used by sailors to describe the sister islands of Vieques and Culebra.

  • Vieques – simply the short name

Vieques is one of the destinations that truly remains like the Caribbean of the past: quiet, lush, uncrowded, with unmatched natural beauty. Home to Mosquito Bay, the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world, and with dozens of undeveloped beach coves, one can experience the true meaning of tropical bliss. This small Puerto Rican treasure is also home to the largest natural wildlife refuge in the Caribbean.


Tourism

You can arrive to la Isla Nena by air or by sea. Flying to the island is a bit more expensive than taking a ferry, but the fastest and most convenient way is renting a boat with BOATLIFEVIP which saves the hassle of planning and overpacking.

The island has made a total transformation, from its history as a US Navy training ground to a protected wildlife reserve with increasingly cosmopolitan getaway. Here, wild horses and roosters roam freely, along with discerning vacationers.


The largest town in Vieques, Isabel Segunda, is named for Spain’s queen at the time the country occupied the island. There are shops, restaurants, guesthouses and grocery stores, and the ferry from mainland Puerto Rico docks here.


No trip to Vieques is complete without a stop at magical Mosquito Bay, also known as the Bioluminescent Bay. What makes the bay bioluminescent? Microscopic organisms called Pyrodinium bahamense, generate a phosphorus blue glow when agitated. Practically invisible to the naked eye, their brilliance dominate the bay, making it the brightest in the world.

Mosquito Bay is well known for best snorkeling area. Starfish, stingrays, sea turtles and the occasional manatee hang out at the end of the mile-long abandoned pier in Vieques, a former port for ferries off Route 200, past a 300-year-old ceiba tree.

"Witness a surreal experience when you visit the bioluminescent bay, recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the brightest in the world due to the high concentration of microorganisms called dinoflagellates. "

The beaches in Vieques are known for providing some of the most relaxed and tranquil atmospheres you’ll find in Puerto Rico.


Here’s a list of the best beaches in Vieques:

  • La Chiva - Often ranked as one of the best beaches in the Caribbean, you can expect different shades of blue waters and diamond-dust sand; also known as Blue Beach.

  • Playita Negra or Black Sand Beach - While this is not a swimming beach, due to the rip currents, this spot is perfect for hiking (about two miles long), relaxing, and enjoying the lavish natural surroundings.

  • Playa Esperanza and SunBay - These beaches are great for water sports such as swimming, kayaking, or merely splashing around the water.

  • Pata Prieta or Secret Beach - Known as Secret Beach, the shallow, clear waters make it the best spot for rookie swimmers and inexperienced snorkelers

  • Media Luna Beach - One of Vieques' most picturesque white-sand beaches.


Landmarks and Places of Interest:

  • Fortín Conde de Mirasol (Count Mirasol Fort), a fort built by the Spanish in the mid 19th century, now a museum

  • The tomb of Le Guillou, the town founder, in Isabel Segunda

  • La Casa Alcaldía (City Hall)

  • Faro Punta Mulas, built in 1896

  • Faro de Puerto Ferro

  • The Bioluminescent Bay

  • The 300-year-old ceiba tree

  • Rompeolas (Mosquito Pier), renamed Puerto de la Libertad David Sanes Rodríguez in 2003

  • Puerto Ferro Archaeological Site

  • Hacienda Playa Grande (Old Sugarcane Plantation Building)

  • Underground U.S. Navy Bunkers

  • Wreckage of the World War II Navy Destroyer USS Killen (DD-593)

Other festivals and events celebrated in Vieques include:

  • Three Kings Festival – (or Epiphany Festival) – January 6

  • Festival Cultural Viequense (Vieques Cultural Festival) – June

  • Festival de la Arepa – August/September


Get Inspired!

Top things to do in Vieques:

  • Visit the World Famous Mosquito Bay during the day for Snorkeling & during the night Bioluminescent Bay

  • Vieques National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) you can spend a whole day hiking, beach hopping, snorkeling, birdwatching, kayaking, paddle boarding, and horseback riding.

  • Fortín Conde de Mirasol, art and history museum with Caribbean artifacts, information about the sugarcane industry, historical records, and more.

  • Best Budget Hotel: Bravo Beach Hotel

  • Best Green Luxury Hotel: Hix Island House

  • Best Hip Hotel: El Blok

Whether you're coming for a day trip or making it an extended stay, Vieques Island is worth the trip, one of Puerto Rico's best-kept secret and world-class destinations. Make sure to visit our Destinations Blog for more tips about top places to visit and things to do in this fascinating world of boating in the Caribbean.


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