Sombe (aka Sun Bay)
This is the public beach in Vieques, but I am not sure what that really means other than they have campsites because you can go on all the beaches, pretty much. This is the one with the most wild horses, though...so you need to be a bit careful when driving there in the evening or night. There are typically about 10 horses at any given time...more all around the island. The beach is very nice and close to a few others like Navio and also by Bio Bay, which I'll talk about in another tip.
Bioluminescent Bay (Bio Bay)
This is one of the most incredible things I have ever seen in my life. I never knew it even existed until I was reading about PR and this one is one of the best in the world. I found an explanation about what this is exactly--it's much better than how i can describe it:)
"The 'Bahia Fosforescente' (Phosphorescent Bay or Bioluminescent Bay) at Puerto Mosquito should be listed as the eighth natural wonder of the world. When the protozoans are being attacked, the movement in the water excites them resulting in a chemical reaction that produces light.
The light is produced when a chemical stored within the cell, luciferin, is combined with oxygen resulting in the release of energy in the form of pure light. The accumulation of the chemical peaks at night, and this is when the lights become more intense.
Several physical features of the Bay allow it's bioluminescence. One is the shallowness of the waters, the other is the presence of mangrove trees at the shores. Decomposing mangrove roots promote the concentration of bacteria in the water. These bacteria produce vitamin B12 which is an essential nutrient to the protozoan.
The Bay has a narrow exit to the sea allowing for the organisms to concentrate in its shallow refuge. It is the incredible concentration of these organisms what makes Vieques so unique"
There are lots of ways to see this--one is by boat that takes people out into the bay and you swim away from the shore where there's no light pollution, you can take kayaks out there (tours are at 6:30 and 8:30pm) or you can do what we did, and just go out on your own.
SERIOUSLY, I have never been more serious in any tip I've written...look at the pictures on the link. This is exactly how it is!!!!!!!!!!!!!
There are tours that leave from the Malecon in Esperanza, a guy named Pooch runs the place.
In Isabel Segunda, there's a beach that I don't know about swimming in (you can, it's clean, but the beach is rocky) but it's where all the sea glass washes up. Again, something about conditions like that of Bio Bay and the way the tides pull the rocks and glass in, but it's pretty neat. People come here to collect sea glass, so if you're into that, definitely check it out.
Also, when we were there, there were local fisherman who looked as though they were having quite a bit of success.
Swimming in the Bioluminescent Bay
The bio-bay was one of the main reasons for my trip to this island. My first enounter with bio-bays was during my trip to Puerto Rico in 03, when we traveled to Fajardo to check out the bay there. it was so amazing, that when we heard about the brighter bay in Vieques, we started planning our trip!
We did our tour with Island Adventures, whom i highly recommend. They were so informative not only about the bio-bay, but also of vieques in general. they pointed out the constellations in the sky and told us some myths, and gave us tid-bits about the Vieques wildlife. Definetely book with them.
As for the biobay itself, there is no way to describe in words how beautiful it is. It was so amazing to be in a place where the sky above is bursting with stars, and the water below is competing with bio-luminescent glow. As soon as we hit the area, we could see the glow in the ripples of the waves. When we finally jumped into the water it was so bright! every movement causes waves and waves of light. I was thrashing around as much as possible to see the glow!
here's some info on why the bay glows (taken from www.biobay.com)
This unique bay contains up to 720,000 single-celled bioluminescent dinoflagellates per gallon of water. These half-plant, half-animal organisms emit a flash of bluish light when agitated at night. The high concentration of these creatures can create enough light to read a book from.
Of course this biobay is a very fragile environment, and is being threatened by human development, like many other ecological sites are. It was such an amazing site of nature, that i really hope we can do our best to conserve it for future generations to enjoy!!
I highly recommend that everyone going to PR visit a biobay. If you really can't make it to Vieques, try the bay in Fajardo. I have tips on that in my "off the beaten path" section for the Puerto Rico page.
too bad I couldn't get any pictures! but the website has some great pics (and it truly looks like that!)
Bioluminescent Bay Adventure
This Bioluminescent Bay is breathtaking !! It is THE reason we came to Vieques !!! It is one of the only year round bio bays in the entire world. Everything is pitch black and then when you jump off the boat into the water it lights up and sparkles like diamonds, bright light blue !! You can see the fish darting through the water leaving bright blue trails behind them. Not to be missed !! It is also one of the few places were you can see both the North Star and the Southern Cross at the same time, as well as other constellations, with no light pollution! We went through a company named Island Adventures, and were very happy with the adventure !
Pristine White Sand Beaches
Try a different beach every day !! You will often be the only people on that beach !! Explore the entire island - it is only 5 miles across !! One side of the island is the Caribbean and the other side is the Pacific. The beaches and the water on the Caribbean side are superior !! Just don't go exploring in areas that are clearly closed off to the public. The US military has a number of years of ordnance cleanup to do on the island - unexploded devices left from their occupation of the island.
ALthough Red and Blue were definetly my favorite beaches, Sun Bay and Media Luna are great too. Both beaches are right next to each other, so you can go to both on the same day. Sun Bay has a food stand and restrooms (I think its the only beach on the island with a food stand).
Both beaches have great soft sand and beautiful water. Media is more protected, so you can go out quite a bit before the water gets deep.
There are tons of places to snorkel around the island. I snorkeled for the first time during this trip. I think the best snorkeling was at Mosquito Pier and at Esperanza Pier. You can also snorkel at Green Beach. We had a good time snorkeling there too, but, I've heard that the "no-see-ums," very unpleasant biting things, come out around 3pm. Fortunately, I was spared the "no-see-ums!"
At Mosquito Pier, you'll want to stay to the left of the rocks (see pic). The right is really choppy.
Our friends brought snorkel gear for us, so we didn't have to rent. However, there are plenty of places around the island to rent snorkel gear and the people are usually helpful. I'd try the Blue Caribe dive shop along the Malecon (main Esperanza strip). We didn't rent there, but we did talk to a lady who gave us really good tips.
Some of the shops also arrange trips out to one of the small islands to the south of Esperanza. I've heard the snorkeling is excellent out there.
- Budget Travel
- Diving and Snorkeling
There are plenty of mangrove forested areas along the edge of the island (at least near Isabel Segunda) and inland, where I spent a couple hours walking around and enjoying a beach before heading back to Fajardo.
- National/State Park
Blue and Red beach
Blue and Red beach were our personal favorites in Vieques. Both are located in the old Navy territories, so they are a little difficult to get to. Once you hit the old occupied area (which is now a nature preserve), you just follow the road for quite a while and you will hit red beach first, further down is blue beach. Beware though, the road is very bumpy and rocky! Red Beach is gorgeous, super soft sand and amazingly clear warm water. We were amazed at how beautiful it was!!! It was so uncrowded too, there must have been a total of 5 or 6 people there at the time. There are shades set up with small tables, where you can have a picnic. Remember, there are no stands so bring your own food!
The old navy base area closes at 6, so you must leave the beach by then. Of course you probably wouldnt want to be there that late anyway, as the mosquitos get quite fierce later in the day!
- National/State Park
- Diving and Snorkeling
Can there be more a more beautiful beach on the world? Can be,possible. But if you have been to Caracas beach it means you can consider yourself lucky enough to visit one of the World's existing wonders in "Beaches" class. No need to look and spend more for more beautiful. it is simply beautiful enough.
Wear a snorkelling gear and just enter the water a few steps,stand in 0,5 mts deep and bend into the water and imagine how seas were centuries ago when they were all that clean and had that much big fish in 'normal' quantities. Certainly swim to the right end,turn the cape and check the adjacent cove and beach too. It is beautiful too , big and empty with nobody at all.
Outdoor showers, etc... off the beaten path
if you love nature and stuff off the beaten path, then this is the place to be: la finca caribe vieques. the place is quite ecologically conscious, there's an outdoor shower that runs hot water via solar panels, lots of green, a small pool... a paradise in itself. i stayed in room with my daughter and slept in the queen size bed while she climbed the ladder above to get on her bunk that's higher than normal. i highly recommend this especially if you like something new, fun, and are into adventure. the view is awesome. the location is quiet albeit remote but worth it. taxi from airport was around $15. one night around $90.
la finca is close to biobay. highly recommended is Abe's (ph 787-741-2134 http://www.abessnorkeling.com/bio_bay_tour.shtml). witness psychedelic bioflagellates glowing in bay. uses 2 person kayaks (environmentally friendly), our guide david super knowledgeable, very safety conscious.
- Adventure Travel
- Family Travel
Driving around the island
You'll see the "wild" horses, beautiful beaches, lots of lush vegetation (especially in the naval bases that you can drive into)
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