Last Updated on January 29, 2023 by Maria Kennedy
Vieques is an island off the coast of Puerto Rico. Otherwise commonly known to be a part of the Spanish Virgin Islands. Up until 2003, it was annexed by the United States Navy and used as a range to test bombs and artillery.
Today, Vieques is a national wildlife refuge. And it is home to some of the most transparent waters and soft, sandy beaches in the Caribbean. Resting just eight miles east of the Puerto Rican mainland, Vieques is considered a prime tourist destination. Ideal for anyone visiting Puerto Rico and the surrounding Caribbean islands.
Upon arriving, many tourists look for things to do in Vieques. Even though the island is small, there is still much to do and see while enjoying a visit.
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Vieques has a long history before the Columbian age. It is estimated that the island of Vieques was first populated as early as 3000 BCE. And this probably stemmed by native seafaring people travelling from the North or South American continents.
Though Christopher Columbus is often given credit for first settling Vieques, it remains uncertain whether Columbus visited Vieques. Regardless, in the late 1400s, the island was claimed by the Spanish empire.
During the early 16th century, the native people of Vieques, known as the Taino, rebelled against all European invaders. This uprising, in turn, provoked the Spanish to send armed forces to keep the natives in line. Unfortunately, as it happened with many native cultures, the Taino were slaughtered by the Spanish. The remaining Taino were then either imprisoned or enslaved.
Though Vieques remained under Spanish control, Spain didn’t permanently colonize the island. The island became a lawless outpost, frequented by pirates. It stayed as such for as long as approximately 300 years.
Fighting continued in the Carribean for many years. As many European powers fought for control in the region, all attempts at control by other forces were defeated by the Spanish.
Main Attraction in Vieques
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In case you are looking for things to do in Vieques, the island is home to a bioluminescent bay (Bio Bay), and it is considered the largest on the planet. The “Mosquito Bay”, as it is referred to by the locals, was designated as the largest bioluminescent bay on the earth by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2008.
On the south shore of Vieques, in the waters of Mosquito Bay, there are tiny sea organisms known as Pyrodinium bahamense, Dinoflagellates. These organisms are commonly called Dinos.
The Dinos are the organisms responsible for bioluminescence. When they come into contact with another organism (or are disturbed), they produce a bright burst of blue light that lights up the bay and can be seen from the beach.
Though Vieques is a small island, only 20 miles long by 4.5 miles wide, it is among the best tourist destinations due to its incredible natural phenomenon. Visiting Vieques is often done in tandem with visiting the Puerto Rican mainland or various other parts of the Caribbean.
If you’re interested in Vieques, it will do some good to research the area further and become acquainted with local attractions and customs so that you will feel welcome and comfortable during your visit.