Fajardo © Kyle Hawton
Fajardo, on the east coast of Puerto Rico,
is the island's scuba diving hub. Dozens of boating companies offer
charters and diving excursions on a range of craft, most based at
the town's Puerto del Rey Marina, the largest marina in the
Besides having two beautiful beaches just
minutes away from town, there are also several uninhabited small
islets just offshore, surrounded by coral reefs. The neighbouring
islands of Vieques and Culebra are reached via ferry and air
charters, with Fajardo in striking distance of a variety of
Fajardo itself does not offer much in the
way of attractions, but it serves as an accommodation centre for
this delightful part of Puerto Rico. It is also a social hub for
holidaymakers thanks to the presence of the luxurious Wyndham El
Conquistador resort, which has a lively casino and world-class golf
course, among other attractions.
Bioluminescent dinoflagellates © Hans Hillewaert
When disturbed, the waters of Mosquito Bay sparkle like a starry sky due to the massive concentration of bioluminescent plankton living beneath the surface. Vieques's Puerto Mosquito holds the Guinness World Record as the brightest of similar bays found elsewhere on the plane. A trip to Bio Bay, as it's locally known, is one of the best tourist attractions in Puerto Rico and well worth the excursion from San Juan. Several tour companies offer kayaking and snorkelling in the magical water, creating a genuinely dreamy environment of ethereal romance. The bioluminescence is at its brightest during the full or near-full moon, and this is considered the best time to visit.
Corcho Beach in Vieques island © Joelr31
Culebra and Vieques
Dubbed the 'Enchanted Isles', Vieques and her smaller sister Culebra are found off Puerto Rico's east coast, accessible from San Juan by air and from Fajardo by ferry. The two islands' chilled and peaceful populations live lives that enrich rather than impact the islands' natural beauty.
Vieques consists largely of the biggest wildlife sanctuary in the Caribbean, containing beautiful beaches with azure clear waters and pearly white sand. Visitors to Vieques should stay overnight to experience its premier attraction: Bio Bay. On moonless nights, the bay glows with bioluminescence radiating from microscopic organisms called dinoflagellates.
Smaller Culebra is renowned for the clarity of its waves lapping at its shores, thanks to the island having no rivers or streams that may cause runoff. This quiet, unspoilt island offers unrivalled snorkelling and scuba diving in its magnificent encircling reefs, as well as kayak expeditions, hiking trails and bird-watching trips through the Culebra National Wildlife Refuge.
View from Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve © Coalición Pro CEN
Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature ReserveLocated on three promontories on the extreme northeast corner of the island, Las Cabezas reserve is one of the most beautiful and biologically diverse natural areas in Puerto Rico. The reserve is close to Fajardo, a major marina, snorkelling spot and diving resort, located about an hour's drive from San Juan. The reserve contains seven different ecological systems, including coral reefs, sandy beaches, lagoons, mangroves and dry forest. It is also home to several endangered species. Boardwalk trails provide easy access to the different natural sites. A restored 19th-century lighthouse, El Faro, is situated on one of the headlands and offers incredible views of its gorgeous surroundings.
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