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9 Coastal Wonders To See Now

Authors Heather Hansen and Kimberly Lisagor have traveled the world investigating coastal sites that are as stunning as they are endangered. Here, they share advice for planning an eco-sensitive trip―and how you can help.

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Mosquito Bay, Puerto Rico
Photographer David Hillegas

Mosquito Bay, Puerto Rico

Why go? On a small, sheltered cove on Vieques, a 22-mile-long, 4-mile-wide island east of Puerto Rico, Mosquito Bay is one of the world’s few remaining bioluminescent bays worth seeing. At night, dinoflagellates glow blue-green when agitated, like fireflies in the ocean. Neon ribbons trail kayaks and swimmers.

Why care? After U.S. Navy occupation of Vieques ended in 2003, word spread about the island’s unspoiled scenery. “The main threat now is the big push to develop Vieques for tourism,” says Mark Martin Bras of the Vieques Conservation and Historical Trust. This has led to a boom in unregulated tour operators and too many swimmers bringing sunscreen and bug repellent that kill the delicate dinoflagellates. Construction and
deforestation unleash light and sediment that are also dimming the waters.

Plan your trip: The biobay is accessible year-round and is best viewed during a new moon. A regular 90-minute ferry runs from Fajardo, on Puerto Rico’s east coast, to Isabel Segunda on Vieques. (Cost: $4 round-trip.) Stay at Hix Island House (hixislandhouse.com); lofts start at $185 in summer.

How to help: The Vieques Conservation and Historical Trust (vcht.com) advocates for the protection of the biobay and lists licensed guides.

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