Can a location with no gay bars, no large gay resorts and no official gay beach really be considered a great gay travel destination? Apparently so, because Vieques Island, Puerto Rico fits that bill to a ‘T’. Vieques has fast become one of the rising stars of the LGBT destination atlas. A steadily increasing number of gay couples are choosing the island for ceremonies and/or as a honeymoon destination.
The attitude toward the LGBT community can largely be described as nonchalant. Despite the lack of gay-specific amenities and accommodation, there are some areas that have gained a reputation as LGBT gathering spots.
Old San Juan’s suburbs of Santurce and Condado, and the stretch of beach immediately outside the Atlantic Hotel are prime examples, and are frequented by both locals and tourists. Condado is an upscale suburb and its beaches are generally all LGBT-friendly.
If you stay in Viejo san Juan, you might like to visit Barrachina restaurant, birthplace of the Piña Colada. The location is also great for shopping and taking in the old colonial sights.
The island itself does not have a vibrant nightlife, gay or straight; it is more a destination to disconnect with your previous ideas of fun and connect with nature for enjoyment of a different kind.
Vieques is famous for its bioluminescent bays. Take the time out to head to Mosquito Bay on a warm night and you will discover why. Nicknamed Bio Bay, the green glow shimmers enticingly from afar. Paddle into the midst of the harmless microorganisms and see them burst into luminescence in response to the agitation of the water.
A large part of the charm of Vieques is its lack of modern development. Aside from just a single hotel from a large chain, even accommodation is low-key (although you can find a fit for most budgets). The endless stretches of unspoiled white sand beckon sun worshipers. It is hard to imagine where all the visitors go once they reach Vieques – you will find you have every beach almost to yourself.
Getting there can be a mini-adventure in itself. Take a cramped propeller plane from San Juan and watch as all bags and passengers are weighed, and the latter then seated carefully around the cabin for best weight distribution. The 20-minute jaunt offers spectacular views.
The Ceiba tree is considered sacred by many Caribbean peoples and is also the national tree of Puerto Rico. Look for the 300-year old specimen on the island to connect with the nature of this pristine slice of paradise.