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In Vieques and Culebra

In the Caribbean

These regularly appear on the lists of the best travel destinations and are part of what are known as the Spanish Virgin Islands, but they are much less well-known than Puerto Rico, their neighbor.

Barely ten kilometers separates Puerto Rico from Vieques, a rustic island teeming with verdant mangroves, secluded coves and idyllic beaches, not to mention a national wildlife reserve that covers much of the island.

34 km long and 8 km wide, the island charms with its fabulous beaches, with both white and black sand, such as Sun Bay, Navío and Media Luna, whose waters are ideal for snorkeling and diving.

The highlight of Vieques is without a doubt Mosquito Bay, recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world. For an out-of-the-ordinary experience, you have to plan an evening in Mosquito Bay. Plunge an oar into the water and it will become bright, as though by magic. The plankton lights up and can be seen by fish, which helps them know where to open their mouths to eat. It's spectacular!

Trekking and mountain biking in the magnificent Monte Pirata circuit are just some more activities awaiting those who seek an environment full of peace, beauty and silence amidst rich flora and fauna.

Culebra

14 km north is Culebra. Searching for almost complete tranquility? Its tranquil beaches and truly wild fauna of this sparsely populated island surrounded by islets will seduce you.

Home to only a few thousand residents year-round and many nesting turtles, Culebra is a true paradise.

Postcard-like, the long white sand crescent that forms Flamenco Beach has earned the title of the World's Most Beautiful Beach by the Travel Channel. Close by, Tamarindo Beach is blessed with crystal clear waters teeming with fish, sea turtles and rays, and to the southwest, Punta Melones is known for its spectacular sunsets.

And in Puerto Rico on the Ruta Taína

Puerto Rico's new tourist route is far from a trivial getaway. Take a trip to the Puerto Rico Modelo Forest on Ruta Taína, discovering indigenous cultures and traditions.

You will be invited to walk the grounds of the oldest and most important ceremonial venues of the Caribbean, to soak up the culture of the Taïnos on the beaches where they have rested and in the caves that they adorned with petroglyphs. You will discover their legends and their tombs through visits to museums, villages and nature reserves.

The route was created in collaboration with archaeologists, the Cultural Institute of Puerto Rico and organizations devoted to the preservation of indigenous cultural heritage.

Ruta Taína can be traveled either alone or with one of the twenty or so guides trained by the Puerto Rico Tourism Board and proud to share this aspect of their country.

And one should not miss Old San Juan, with its cobblestone streets and iconic and remarkably well-preserved Spanish architecture! There is so much to discover in this authentic Latin harbor, the only fortified city in the Caribbean, and also one of the oldest.

An ideal climate

Puerto Rico, Vieques or Culebra are the perfect destinations if you are looking for new adventures and sunshine to forget about snow and cold. The islands enjoy a year-round tropical climate with hundreds of beaches from where one can surf, swim, dive or just bathe under the sun. And golf enthusiasts will be able to visit one of the many world-class courses.

If you are there at the end of January

Do not miss the Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián (January 19-22), a street festival in honor of San Sebastián, the patron saint of Puerto Rico, where a parade, music, dance and local crafts are on display. Celebrated for the first time in 1970, this event has become one of the biggest festivals on the island!

Getting there

A few airlines connect Vieques and Culebra to San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico. Those 25-minutes flights are quite expensive. It is also possible to take a ferry from Fajardo, in the eastern tip of Puerto Rico. There are four or five round trips a day. The price is more reasonable but the crossing takes almost two hours.

With Air Canada's direct links between Montreal, Toronto and San Juan, discovering Puerto Rico has never been easier for Canadians. Indeed, a weekly direct flight takes place on Saturdays from both cities.

To sleep

On both islands, the offer is relatively good for a room or apartment rental in a hotel or a B & B in a price range between CDN $100 and CAD $500 CDN. You can even find something for less than $100 a night!

The selection is larger in Puerto Rico since it is better known. But why not stick with our historic theme and choose the El Convento? Located in the heart of Old San Juan, directly across from the stunning San Juan cathedral, the hotel is lodged in an old monastery that dates back to 1646. It is fully equipped and has a quaint pool overlooking the cathedral.

Christiane Théberge
 

Red Beach, Vieques

Mosquito Bay, Vieques

Flamenco Beach, Culebra

Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián

Hotel El Convento, San Juan

 

 

   

 

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