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The Wall Street Journal
Desktop Traveler / Vieques
By Michelle Higgins
March 16, 2004
THIS ISLAND OFF PUERTO RICO used to be a bombing range. Last May, the Navy left -- and now Vieques is exploding with tourism. Hotel occupancy jumped last year and AMR's American Eagle plans to fly there from San Juan, though already there are lots of puddle-jumpers. With white sand beaches and wildlife, it's now a nature refuge -- preserved, ironically, because bombs discouraged development. That's changing: Last year the Wyndham Martineau Bay Resort & Spa opened with 156 rooms; there are some smaller high-end places, too. Wildlife lovers can go bird watching, admire wild horses, or perhaps see a sea turtle. No one offers turtle tours yet -- but on a recent visit, rangers said if you ask nicely, they may show you a hatching nest. Here's where humans can bunk down.
DESCRIPTION: Comprehensive guide to the island.
EASE OF USE: Orderly and packed with useful info, like hotel ratings, maps, ferry schedules, even babysitting services.
COMMENT: If you still can't find what you're looking for, click "discussion" to ask locals about anything from finding a wedding photographer to treating jellyfish stings.
DESCRIPTION: Info-heavy travel site on Vieques and Culebra.
EASE OF USE: Spartan design, but everything you need to know on where to stay, eat, shop and play on these two Puerto Rican islands.
COMMENT: Monthly newsletter, "What's Happenin'!" has tips for newcomers: "Fresh vegetables arrive at the grocery stores on Wednesdays and by Fridays the selection is thinning out."
DESCRIPTION: Focuses on the island's unique bay -- it glows in the dark.
EASE OF USE: Check the photo gallery for eerie shots of glowing waters; plus a calendar listing the best days to see the effect.
COMMENT: Basic explanation on why the water glows (micro-organisms in the water light up when things brush against them).
DESCRIPTION: Created by Vieques native, Wanda Bermudez, to promote tourism.
EASE OF USE: Thorough descriptions on beaches and lots of links to vacation rentals.
COMMENT: Great photos all over the island, including a peek inside the new Wyndham hotel and pictures taken by a Marine stationed on Vieques in 1954.
DESCRIPTION: Short but concise overview of the Island.
EASE OF USE: Particularly good info on the bioluminescent bay, but "Vieques news" is old and describes the island circa 2001 -- before the Navy left.
COMMENT: Best feature: honest restaurant reviews. But some need an update: Chef Michael's is no longer at the Inn on the Blue Horizon.