The Spanish Virgin Islands

Author: , September 2nd, 2014

Spanish Virgin Islands - Apple Maps

The Spanish Virgin Islands are the westernmost, most undeveloped, and least known slice of the much larger Virgin Islands pie.

Twenty-one mile-long Vieques, the largest Spanish Virgin is located 12 miles west of Saint Thomas in the adjoining US Virgin Islands.
The smaller main Spanish Virgin, seven-mile-long Culebra, lies nine miles north of Vieques.

Twenty-three smaller islands ring Culebra, all together composing the enchanting archipelago of the Spanish Virgin Islands.

Puerto Mosquito, known as Bio Bay in English, in Vieques is considered the brightest bioluminescent body of water in the world!

Bioluminescence is light produced by a chemical reaction, which originates in a living organism.

Tiny organisms, halfway between plant and animal, in the water cause the bay to glow a dazzling bright blue at night.

The spectacular light show is strong enough to read a book by at midnight even on a moonless evening.

The superstitious Spanish conquistadors considered the curious lights to be the work of the devil, and struggled to extinguish the natural phenomenon, dropping enormous boulders to crush the satanic forces they believed were lurking beneath the surface, fortunately without success.

In fact, the boulders only served to corral the resilient organisms more closely, intensifying their brilliance!

Long, and narrow cigar-shaped Vieques is ringed by dozens of pristine beaches all excellent for swimming, some best suited for surfing, others ideal for diving, most of them featuring fine white powder sand, except for appropriately named “Playa Negra,” which has jet black magnetic volcanic sand.

Of course, kids will have a ball building black sand castles, and dragging magnets along the coast collecting metallic particles.
Sort of a natural, super-sized “etch a sketch.”

Watch countless, up to six-foot long, scaly green pre-historic looking iguanas sunning themselves on smooth white boulders at the shoreline.

Crescent-shaped Flamenco Beach on neighboring Culebra features fine white coral sand, and is considered the most beautiful beach in the Caribbean. Flamenco beach is situated on a narrow strip of land sandwiched between two bodies of water, the Caribbean Sea to the north, and Laguna Flamenco to the south.

Leatherback, Green and Hawksbill sea turtles nest on Culebra, and its many outlying islets.

Impregnable Fort Vieques, built in 1845 to defend the archipelago against pirates, which now houses the Vieques Museum of Art and History, is the most impressive icon remaining from the four centuries long Spanish colonial era.

A massive three hundred year-old Ceiba tree is another major attraction, and popular photo op onVieques.

Fresh caught seafood is superb throughout the islands. Conch, pronounced “conk,” a type of sea molusk ceviche, ensalada de carrucho en espanol, empanadillas which are lobster, crab, conch, or beef filled baked pastry turnovers, all served with black beans and fried plantain are popular across the island chain.

Inexpensive, lobster-on-a-stick, sort of like an upscale corn dog is popular at street stands in the Spanish Virgin Islands.

Iguana flesh, the other white meat, sometimes called mountain chicken, is abundant in the Spanish Virgin Islands. The tasty reptile is not endangered here as it is in some other places in the West Indies.

There’s regular passenger ferry service for under $5 round-trip between Fajardo on the northeastern coast of Puerto Rico, Vieques and Culebra. Water taxis are great for short trips.

A moderately more expensive transport option is by scheduled seaplane. The low aerial views seaplanes afford are not to be missed. Of course, if money is not an object you can charter a luxurious sailing ship to explore the islands. But you don’t have to spend mucho bucks to enjoy these tranquil isles.

Spanish is the predominant and official language in the Spanish Virgin Islands, but just about everyone also speaks English. You will never have a problem if you speak English only. The US dollar is the sole currency, and you are protected by the familiar US legal system.

American citizens don’t need passports, nor visas to enter, or to stay as long as they like in the Spanish Virgin Islands.

Ernie Alderete is an Angeleno-based adventure travel writer ready to get his feet wet, and challenge his comfort level. He’s always the first to sample the most exotic cuisine, whether it be fresh-caught piranha in Manaus at the center of the largest rain forest on earth, or charcoal roasted guinea pig in Cuzco, colorful capital of the ancient Inca Realm. Dinner could be slow cooked in a pit dug in the desert sands of Wadi Rum within sight of the Red Sea where Lawrence of Arabia once fought, or simple boiled beans in a cave in the remote highlands of Chihuahua shared with a native Tarahumara Indian. The author may be reached at: erniealderete@yahoo.com

US Virgin Islands Gay Travel Resources

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