Caribbean beach sand

Idyllic Vieques island is “the Caribbean as it used to be.”

But changes are on the horizon.

Travelers smitten with this 21-mile-long island off the coast of Puerto Rico love it as much for what it lacks as for what it has.

Absent are malls, stoplights, casinos and golf courses. Only one lodging has full resort amenities, and it hasn’t been a raging success.

Newcomers are wowed by what Vieques does have. Pristine beaches stretch for miles, the sweep of white sand interrupted only by swaying palms and tangles of mangrove.

A bioluminescent bay lit by billions of microscopic organisms (and considered one of the finest in the world) delights kayakers on moonless nights. Rural guest houses offer laid-back hospitality.

Travel writers are fond of proclaiming Viequesthe Caribbean as it used to be,” usually with the caveat: Get there fast before it changes.

On the horizon: Faster ferry service to the mainland; a proposal to build a tourist-oriented town; and a W hotel, part of a chain more often associated with hip, urban spots than island idyll, opening in 2008.

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