Culebra and Vieques
Corcho Beach in Vieques island © Joelr31
Dubbed 'the enchanted isles', Vieques and her smaller sister Culebra are located off Puerto Rico's east coast, accessible from San Juan by air and from Fajardo by ferry. Both support a few thousand friendly, laidback inhabitants who live life peacefully and slowly, enriching rather than impacting on the natural beauty of their environment.
Vieques is 20-odd miles long and five miles wide, and consists largely of the biggest wildlife sanctuary in the Caribbean, protected by the United States Fish & Wildlife Service. Some of the world's most beautiful beaches, with azure clear waters and sugary white sand, are to be found in the sanctuary.
Visitors planning to see Vieques should consider staying overnight to experience its premier attraction, Bio Bay. On a moonless night, the bay glows with the bioluminescence radiated by microscopic one-celled organisms called dinoflagellates, providing an unforgettable sight.
Smaller Culebra, just seven miles long and three miles wide, is a few miles north of Vieques and is renowned for the clarity of the waters washing its shores. This is caused by the fact that the island has no rivers or streams causing run-off: the arid island has to have water piped from Puerto Rico via Vieques.
This quiet, unspoiled island offers unrivalled snorkelling and scuba diving in its magnificent encircling reefs, as well as kayak expeditions and hiking trails for bird-watchers through the Culebra National Wildlife Refuge.