14.06.2013

The Best the Caribbean Has to Offer: The Island of Vieques in Puerto Rico

14.06.2013

The Best the Caribbean Has to Offer: The Island of Vieques in Puerto Rico

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Vieques is an island located eight miles off the mainland of Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Sea.  It’s a tiny island, only twenty-one miles long and four miles wide, but every mile of it has something interesting to see. There are only two ways to get to the island from the mainland of Puerto Rico. One can take either a ferry, or a small prop plane.  We chose to fly to Vieques and I was lucky enough to have the seat directly behind our pilot! I was able to get some great photographs during the twenty minute flight, including this one of the landing strip on the island.

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Vieques is no cookie-cutter Caribbean island.  You won’t find large resort hotels there. You won’t find chain restaurants.  You won’t find streets lined with shops that are filled with souvenirs.  What you will find are miles and miles of pristine, white sandy beaches that you may have all to yourself.  The US Navy used to have possession of two-thirds of the island until 2003.  Today all of the land that was used by the Navy is now  part of a Wildlife Refuge,  and many of the island’s beaches are in the undeveloped refuge. There are no jet skis racing by.  There are no small planes with advertising banners flying overhead.  There is surf and sand, and peace and quiet.  The day that we visited Sun Bay Beach, there were only four other people there!

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Part of the charm of Vieques lies in how rural it is.  There are wild horses all over the island.  You may also see chickens wandering around, as well as iguanas.

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We rented a jeep and drove the entire island multiple times during our three day visit.  The roads are narrow and windy, but driving allows you to really see the beautiful landscapes. Keep a careful look out though –  you may find those wild horses and chickens in the road in front of you!

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We stopped to photograph the Ceiba Tree. It is a 300 year old tree, with roots that were taller than we were!

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We also saw beautiful plants and flowers all over the island.  Flamboyen Trees dot the landscape with their large, bright red flowers.  One of the locals told us that they call the Flamboyen Tree a Stink Tree because the blossoms have a very strong, not so pleasant aroma. They sure look beautiful though!

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Vieques is also the home of one of the most spectacular bioluminescent bays in the world.  There are one million tiny micro-organisms that light up, or glow, whenever there is movement in the water.    We went on a kayak tour into the bay at night.  As we paddled through the water it looked like tiny sparkles in the water surrounding us.  It really was magical!  If you visit and want to see the bio-bay, be sure to go on a night when the moon is not full.  The darker the sky, the more visible the organisms are.

Vieques is a place to really get away from it all.  Our three day stay there was a great way to start our Puerto Rican vacation, and we will surely visit there again.

Written by guest blogger Judy Salcedo
heyjudephotography.com

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