The offshore islands of Vieques and Culebra are in many ways the most alluring parts of Puerto Rico. If you’re yearning for laidback, tropical islands and dreamy landscapes of empty, palm-fringed beaches, this is where to find them. The US Navy occupied both islands for over half of the twentieth century and as a consequence they have avoided the rampant development endemic to much of the region. Today you’ll find some of the most unspoiled beaches in the Caribbean and a chilled-out mix of locals and Americanos running a simple but sophisticated infrastructure of guesthouses and restaurants. Both islands are surrounded by vivid coral and tropical fish, with Culebra in particular a haven for sea turtles.

High season is between November and May, but Vieques goes into semi-hibernation over the summer, while Culebra sees a second boom in domestic tourists – rental cars and hotels can be booked solid in July.

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