trip report-San Juan & Vieques

Dec 31st, 2002, 02:17 PM
  #1  
jeri
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trip report-San Juan & Vieques

Family of four (kids 10 & 14) just returned from very relaxing trip to Puerto Rico. We spent 4 days in San Juan followed by 3 in Vieques.

High point - without a doubt the bioluminescent bay on Vieques. You have to see it to believe it! It is awesome! You take a ride on a boat into the middle of the bay at night & see the water glow when the fish move. Then you get to swim in the water yourself & watch it light up whenever you move. Droplets fall off & sparkle in the dark. Never seen anything like it.

Back to San Juan. We stayed at the Howard Johnson in Isla Verde. Got a good rate on the internet & it was fine but unmemorable. Everything worked & it was right across the street from the beach as advertised. Beach was nice, warm and had good-sized waves (ie fun for all, but not so rough as to smash a 10 year old). However, there was no real sense of being in an exotic place. We were between 7-11 and Burger King. Note, food everywhere is expensive compared to the mainland U.S. No wonderful meals, but there was a nice Argentinian pizza place on the strip about a mile from the HoJo's.

Spent a day in old San Juan & toured El Morro - pretty impressive. Also nice just to wander around the old windy streets and absorb the atmosphere. We also especially enjoyed the Plaza of Pigeons. There is a flock of birds that stays there permanently. If you buy some food for them, they will alight on your arms and eat from your hands.

Vieques was really the highlight of the trip. It really feels like I imagine most of the Carribean was 50 years ago. We stayed at Bananas in Esperanza. It has no TV, phone etc in the room, but makes up for that with lots of atmosphere. Esperanza is essentially a couple blocks along the beach of small inns, restaurants and shops. You can swim and snorkel during the day & drink Pina Coladas at night. It's very small town & relaxing. We loved it.

Word of advice, because Vieques is so small, you must reserve rooms, biobay trip, rental car &/or snorkel trip in advance. We hadn't reserved a snorkel trip & were not able to get one. In San Juan, however, this is not the case.

All told, a great trip. Glad to answer questions if I can.
 
Jan 2nd, 2003, 10:13 PM
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Ken
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Did you happen to see the new Rosewood resort there? If so, how was the beach in front?
 
Jan 8th, 2003, 11:39 AM
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jeri
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Sorry, don't know anything about it.
 
Jan 11th, 2003, 01:57 PM
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dee
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Jeri--what 'day of the month' did you see the bio bay?(relative to the moon phase) I have an opportunity to be in Vieques 12 days before the full moon, and wondered if that would be good. I have 12 and 16 year old kids and thought they would like it. Did you kayak or take the boat trip? How far in advance did you book all the vieques stuff. Thanks
 
Jan 11th, 2003, 06:10 PM
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johnno
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any time but a few days before or a few days after the full moon is fine for the bio bay. the less light the better, so 12 days before wwould be great.
 
Jan 12th, 2003, 01:36 AM
  #6  
pat
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Had the pleasure of staying on Vieques once not too very long ago. The bio-bay is the most fascinating trip I've ever done in any visits to any of the islands in the Caribbean. It's certainly a not-to-be-missed opportunity and my understanding is, there is a biobay on the main island of PR but it does NOT equal the beauty of Vieques.

Don't know for sure about Rosewoods but we were told it had not opened and the issues were the sporadic air service and the military base situation. Could be wrong on this but we were given this info from friends who live there.
 
Jan 12th, 2003, 06:38 AM
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jeri
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Dee, if you go to the biobay web site, www.biobay.com and click on Moonwatch Calendar you will see a calendar showing the phases of the moon and which nites are good to see the bay. I'm sure 12 days before full moon would be fine. We went on the Island Adventures boat, not the kayaks. (I'm sure the kayaks would also be really cool, but we were concerned whether our 10 year old could manage it.)

All our reservations were made a few weeks in advance. We called Island Adventures (the biobay boat tour) and they told us to make reservations for a place to stay first. There is a list of inns on the Vieques web site
http://www.vieques-island.com/hotels.shtml
You'll note that most of the fancier places do not allow kids under 16. We went during Christmas break, so things were probably more booked up then than at other times. If you want a car (we didn't have one as we were only there 3 nites) you need to reserve that in advance also. For the ferry over, you just show up and buy a ticket.

Good luck with your plans. Again, I can't recommend Vieques highly enough. The bay was is just amazing. Be sure to wear your suits so you can swim in the water and make it glow around you.
 
Jan 12th, 2003, 11:44 AM
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Ricky
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Hi Jeri,

My husband and I are seriously considering going to Puerto Rico for our vacation but I have a couple of questions for you.

1) Does PR offer an abundance of historical sites?
2) Are there any good areas to go scuba diving?

Any information you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for your help.
 
Jan 14th, 2003, 06:51 AM
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Tim
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Jeri (or anyone who knows) -- Is the Island Adventures boat smooth? I have problems getting light-headed on boats that rock and was wondering if I could handle it. Thanks!
 
Jan 14th, 2003, 08:37 AM
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jeri
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Ricky, I think PR has a fair amount of historical sites compared to other Carribbean islands. We only toured El Morro fort which was very impressive. I know there is scuba diving available in PR, but don't have any details.

Tim, the Island Adventures boat ride is very smooth. The biobay is almost completely enclosed by land, so there are no waves at all.
 
Jan 14th, 2003, 04:35 PM
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missy
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Is it possible to tour the biobay from the mainland or do you have to be staying on Vieques?
 
Jan 15th, 2003, 03:13 AM
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johnno
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Tim -
Biobay is flat as a pond, so any boat on the bay is smooth. Where you might have problems is getting to Vieques. Your choices are the ferry or an 8 seater plane. You should pick up seasickness wrist bands at a drug store before you go.
 
Jan 15th, 2003, 08:24 AM
  #13  
jeri
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Missy,

You have to stay at least one nite on Vieques if you want to tour the biobay. The ferry and the airlines do not have any late night trips to return to the main island. I've heard there are a couple other biobays on the main island, but they are not supposed to be as good as the one on Vieques.
 
Jan 30th, 2003, 05:12 PM
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ttt
jerirl is offline  
Feb 1st, 2003, 03:19 PM
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This sounds very interesting to me.
We are going to be in Puerto Rico for a weekend before business during the week. Does flying in on Friday p.m. and returning on Monday A.M. sound reasonable enough time to visit Vieques. Do you know of other ways to snorkel where it is fairly calm within reasonable distance of San Juan? We really enjoy snorkelling.
Thanks
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Feb 1st, 2003, 03:53 PM
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Has anyone visited Luminous Lagoon/Glistening Waters in Jamaica? Supposed to be the same thing....glowing water. We're thinking of stopping by the day we get in, before heading to Negril the next day.

I've been during the day to eat but never done the boat trip at night.
liza is offline  
Jul 7th, 2003, 09:34 AM
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jerirl is offline  
Sep 9th, 2003, 07:31 PM
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topping for info on Bananas
jerirl is offline  
Sep 14th, 2003, 04:33 AM
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According to www.biobay.com, the day after a full moon is best.
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