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Night Swimming in Vieques

Night Swimming in Vieques


Puerto Rico’s unspoiled wedding getaway


We start at twilight, piling in the van for the bumpy ride to Mosquito Bay. We park in a sandy lot, and our guides ease the kayaks into the dark waters. "Don't jump in," Enrique instructs. While this bioluminescent bay has had thousands of visitors who have enjoyed a dip in the spectacular lagoon, the government is attempting to protect the delicate, microscopic organisms that glow when disturbed, so it doesn't want people spoiling the water with chemicals and other toxins. Although my partner was born and raised in Puerto Rico, he'd never visited Vieques (a former U.S. military zone), and no trip to the tiny, 21-mile-long island off the coast of Puerto Rico is complete without a trip to Bio Bay, as it's known. As we paddle out to the center of the lagoon, we see the green glow. "Like Avatar!" one of the other guys in the group says. Since the moon is full and the sky is clear, we huddle under a parachute to block the light, and we begin to drag our fingers through the warm water and see the glow that does look like a movie's special effect. It's a night we'll never forget.

Without much to do beyond the miles of gorgeous, pristine white-sand beaches, the entertainment takes place at the W Retreat & Spa, Vieques Island. Its restaurant, Sorce, is the best place to eat on the island, so no need to feel an urge to go prowling for seafood anywhere else. The luxury rooms include a sexy soaking tub, and balconies keep you oriented toward the blue waters. The gay-friendly property has hosted 15 same-sex wedding parties in the past two years. Bernadette Smith of 14 Stories, her wedding planning company based in the Northeast, handles the design details, organizing packages so that couples -- who typically have their wedding ceremonies in Massachusetts or New York (you can't do it legally in Puerto Rico as of yet) -- can jet down to the Caribbean with friends and family to have a beachside celebration.

Where to Stay
W Retreat & Spa, Vieques Island, is the largest employer on the island and even has its own waiting area in the small airport, complete with welcome cocktails. Take yoga classes in the morning, or just while away the day at the pool or one of its private beaches steps from the room. Plan a visit the organic farm where most of the restaurant's food is sourced. The melons are so fresh they're warm from the sun.
How To Get There
Although there's an inexpensive ferry, most anyone will tell you the best way to get to this tiny island is by air. We took an eight-seat propeller plane from San Juan (about 20 minutes), and it's definitely part of the adventure. Your bags are weighed, and you're distributed by weight in the tiny plane. But you get the best views -- just be ready for a short, exciting ride.
Don't Miss
Look for the 300-year-old ceiba tree -- the national tree of Puerto Rico and considered sacred by many people in the Caribbean -- which is magnificent in its isolation. Located on the way to Green Beach, you'll find hundreds of brightly colored starfish to collect and get your perfect Instagram moments.
Photos: Courtesy of W Retrait & Spa \ Starfish (Jerry Portwood)
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