Production Designer, Tim Capone, an avid world traveler, recently journeyed to the small island of Vieques, Puerto Rico. The island provides serenity, privacy and some of the most beautiful and undiscovered beaches on the Caribbean. Located about eight miles to the east of the Puerto Rican mainland, and a short flight from San Juan, much of the island remains off limits while the U.S. Navy continues to clean up areas used for military training. The military vacated the island in 2003. Today the former Navy land is a national wildlife refuge, with numerous beaches that still retain the names given by the Navy, including Red Beach, Blue Beach, Green Beach and others. The beaches are commonly listed among the top beaches in the Caribbean for their azure-colored waters and white sands. In fact, in 2008 Vieques was crowned the Best Island in the Caribbean by Travel & Leisure Magazine.
Vieques, like the rest of Puerto Rico, retains strong Spanish influences from 400 years of Spanish ownership. You feel it in the architecture, cuisine and language. On the Caribbean side of the island, near the charming village of Esperanza, is the stylish hilltop Casa de Crystal or, as the locals call it, the Glass House. An unbelievable villa to share with friends on a Winter holiday.
From every angle, the house offers incredible ocean views, stunning modern design and a private spa-like environment.
In addition to the private pool and viewing terraces, the Glass House has a full fitness gym (located beneath the pool deck) complete with an underwater viewing window.
Vieques is a small island, and the developed portion is even smaller, so it’s fairly easy to get your bearings and not at all easy to get lost for too long. But if you plan to be there for longer than two days, car rental is essential. From the Glass House it’s a short ride in many directions to several beautiful beaches. Sun Beach proved perfect for collecting beach glass, running off the tequila and long walks at the end of the day. Media Luna provided calm and shallow waters for quiet, relaxing hours of doing absolutely nothing. Navio Beach had ideal conditions for everything from body surfing, snorkeling to cave exploration. A long horseback ride through the village of Esperanza, along the beach, and through hillside pastures overlooking the ocean made for an amazing adventure.
Speaking of horses, there are semi-free wild horses roaming freely all over the island. They keep to themselves for the most part, but can make for some hazardous driving conditions if you’re not careful. They also don’t hesitate to poke their noses into open windows!
But one of the most intriguing “must see” attractions on the island is the Bioluminescent Bay or Puerto Mosquito. It’s thought to be the brightest in the world with over 750,000 tiny dinoflagellates per gallon of water that light up when touched! Imagine swimming in a lake full of sparkling lights! Truly a magical and indescribable experience. Puerto Mosquito has been listed on the top 50 most romantic places in the world.
There aren’t any large grand hotel properties on the island as they continue to keep development very tightly regulated. That said, Starwood Hotels is opening a W Retreat & Spa this month and it looks to be the first of many smaller resorts sure to bring more travelers. http://www.starwoodhotels.com/whotels/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=3170
For more information on the island please go to www.viequestravelguide.com