Vieques, Puerto Rico
This little island, a part of Puerto Rico, was previously a US Navy site, making it less developed and filled wildlife refuges, forests and gorgeous beaches. Today, it is where many tourists flock for a chance to relax on the white sand beaches, rated the top in the Carribean.
For us city dwellers, it was our attempt at forcing ourselves to relax. This is a place where this is only one chain on the entire island – the W Hotel. All other restaurants, accommodations and shops are local boutiques, and there is hardly any Internet access! Not to mention, everything operates on true island time, which is okay given there is little to do other than water activities, eating, and sleeping!
We arrived by a small plane, and were greeted by Eddie upon arrival and once at Casa del Parque (his house), his dogs eagerly awaited his new guests and helped show us around. Words are difficult to describe Eddie, but he is a true character. He is known well to everyone on the island as the rasta guy with a very long dreadlock, he has lived on the island his entire life, has 21 siblings, and seems to spend his time smoking pot and hanging out with the horses, roosters, iguanas and dogs.
The island has the capitol city, Isabel Segunda, where most of the locals live, and small village, Esperanza, which is a small street filled with restaurants, bars and inns catering to the tourists. The beaches surround the island, all gorgeous, with varying levels of difficulty to get to them as the roads are managed by the Department of Natural Resources and are not necessarily well maintained.
The beaches are magnificent, but the reason Vieques was on my radar was because of its bioluminescent bays. Sure, they exist elsewhere but Mosquito Bay is famous for its high concentration of dinoflagellates. The luminescence in the bay is caused by disturbing these micro-organisms, which glow as a defense mechanism whenever disturbed. This bay is a perfect breeding ground for these creatures due to the temperature of the water, the mangrove trees surrounding the bay, the lack of development and the small channel to the ocean keeping the organisms trapped in the bay.
Upon entering the bay and paddling out in our clear canoes, it was like our boat was shimmering like glitter. When you put your hand in the water, it glowed. It was magical. Not to mention, looking up – being in pitch darkness, except for the glistening of the water and a clear sky, where every constellation was in sight – we star gazed and found everything from shooting stars to constellations and even planets, like Jupiter!