A Perfect Day in Vieques

Vieques, off Puerto Rico’s east coast, is known for its quiet island life and tropical vibe. Get away from the hustle and bustle of the mainland and enjoy a relaxing day riding horses, kayaking in the bioluminescent bay, and dining on local tapas, even if you only have one day. Often overlooked by visitors who seek the mainland comforts, be sure to take some time to explore this tiny island and its secluded tropical vibe. A day trip to Vieques will not be forgotten.
(The venues on this list have been confirmed reopened since Hurricane Maria.)

Highlights
Mosquito Bay Beach, Vieques 00765, Puerto Rico
At Mosquito Bay Beach—also known as Starfish Beach—on Vieques Island in Puerto Rico, you’ll find tons of colorful starfish. While the beach itself is small, it’s still beautiful and perfect for a scenic walk. You won’t get bored searching for sea creatures in the water.
Esperanza is located on the southern side of Vieques island with a laid-back vibe reminiscent of Key West. This small town has an main street that runs parallel to the ocean called “El Malecón” that is dotted with friendly guest houses, funky bars and even gourmet restaurants. It makes a great base for exploring the island’s treasures: it’s walking distance to Playa Esperanza and Sun Bay and only a 10-20 minute drive to the secluded beaches in the wildlife refuge.
Bahía Bioluminiscente, Puerto Rico
This was the experience of a lifetime. We were fortunate to be there on the required dark night with no moon. We used see-through canoes to paddle to the middle of this inlet off the Caribbean at midnight. All wildlife in the very clear water was luminescent -- we could see fish jumping and swimming and plankton hanging around. This bay is one of very few in the world that lights up at night -- a true glow-in-the-dark experience brought to you by Mother Nature.
KM3.2 State Road 200, Vieques Island, PR 00765, United States
This property is closed due to damage sustained during Hurriance Maria.

The W Vieques Island is a luxury boutique waterfront hotel located on pristine Vieques Island, located eight miles off the southeast coast of mainland Puerto Rico. What’s interesting about the island is that despite being so close to the mainland, it still has a very raw, untouched feel, with tourism weaving itself into the landscape instead of taking it over. Guests of the hotel can explore ecotourism on the island through kayaking tours of the bioluminescent bay, beach trips, scuba diving, mountain biking, fishing, horseback riding, outdoor yoga, farm-to-bar social hours at sunset, and visits to the the local farm to see where the restaurant’s ingredients are sourced and even to create a meal for themselves. There’s also a sumptuous spa. Inspired by the holistic nature of the surroundings, the spa seems to blend into the landscape, with rivulets and canals flowing throughout the space, front-row views of the Atlantic Ocean, vine-covered treatment rooms, a reflection pool, and a spa pavilion surrounded by lush gardens.
Descended from horses brought over in the 16th century by Spanish conquistadors, hundreds of wild horses rule the little island of Vieques. The horses, an attraction in their own right, dot the landscape wherever you go. With every encounter, I couldn’t help but slow down and admire their beauty. They are naturally intelligent and curious, so don’t be surprised if they approach you or your vehicle looking for little treats. For a guaranteed encounter, look no further than Sun Bay—where I snapped this picture. Here, they graze, take frequent sand baths, and (if you’re lucky) cool their hooves in the blue waters of the Caribbean.
On Puerto Rico, horses roam the farms, the mountains, the town centers—and also the beaches. A couples’ horse ride at sunset is a perfect way to kiss the day good-bye. With Tropical Trail Rides, in the northwestern municipality of Isabela, you can take a two-hour ride through the forest and by the beach as the sun sinks down toward the water. Make sure you take the opportunity to break for a hike or a swim along the way. On the north side of the island in Manatí, Kerry’s Horses designs personalized sunset rides by the beach or through nature reserves.
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