As you may know by now, we love… and I mean love Vieques. It was especially nice to go back for our wedding to spend more time on the island. Vieques is 21 miles east to west and 4 miles north to south; with it being so small, you think you would have enough time to see it all, but that is not true! I want to give you the lowdown on places to see, where to eat and stay, and activities to do on the island.
How to Get to Vieques
First off, you need to get to the island. If you are flying into San Juan you have a couple of choices. If you want a quick way to get to Vieques, you can take a small airplane over to the island. There are six airlines from San Juan International Airport that fly over to Vieques. Air Culebra , Air Sunshine, Cape Air, Culebra Air Services, SeaBourne Air, and Vieques Air Link. We had to take Vieques Air Link back to San Juan from Vieques when we missed our ferry, and it is quite expensive to take the plane. So if you are ok with spending some extra money (around $125 one way), then it is for sure a nice, quick way to get there.
Another option is taking a cab to Fajardo and taking the ferry over to Vieques. Cab rides can be pricey to get over to Fajardo (around $80 one way), but you save the money on the ferry. Ferries cost $4 round trip. You can also call and make travel arrangements ahead of time and have a service be at the airport waiting to take you over to Fajardo. We had used Al’s Taxi Service, and were very happy with our transportation. There is also Travel With Rivera , Maria’s Travel for Less, and Mary and Angel’s Transportation. Travel time from San Juan to Fajardo is about 45 minutes to an hour depending on traffic. Always be sure to check ferry times and call ahead to make sure that the ferry is running on schedule. Be sure to arrive at the ferry terminal early, because the ferries do fill up quickly and there is always a line.
Once on the island of Vieques, there are cabs and publicos (public transportation), waiting there to take you where you need to go. If you find yourself with a group of people, you can usually get a group rate on your ride. If you are anything like Andy and I, you are going to want to check into your room right away to get more beach time!
Where to Stay
Andy has written about the best place to stay in Vieques before, so I really do not need to explain more about how awesome the Tropical Guest House is, although I totally could! The Tropical Guest House provides that, “home away from home” feeling, and Joe and Maria treat all their guests like family. Maria can provide you with any information you may need about the island. And Joe can always provide many, many laughs and a tasty cocktail. The Tropical Guest is a little way into the island, so if you want to get to the beaches, you will need a cab or a rental car to get to them.
When Andy and I had gotten married, we thought it would be easier to stay at a place close to our beach wedding location, and a place where all of our family could be under one roof. We choose to stay at the Tradewinds Guesthouse and they provide one of the best views of the ocean! There location is right on the malecon strip and is a short walk over to the beach and some great restaurants.
Places to Eat
I am already having a hard time thinking of my favorite place to eat on this island because there are so many! We fell in love with Duffy’s because of their low key, beach loving, and unique “beer-forward” attitude. My loving husband is the biggest beer fan I have ever met, and Duffy’s for sure had some awesome beer choices! And one of my favorite meals there was fresh caught Mahi Mahi that they made into a sandwich! My stomach just rumbled thinking about that meal.
Another favorite place on the malecon is Belly Button’s. Sounds like a place where you wouldn’t want to get food, but believe me, it is delicious! We went there for Mexican night, and I had some very delicious pork tacos. We also went twice for their BBQ night, and it was ah-maz-ing! And they have the best margaritas on the island.
If you are heading over to Red Beach, Blue Beach or any of the beaches near the Wildlife Refuge area, you are going to want to stop by the Sol Food truck! They are only open on the weekends (Thursday through Sunday, 11am until food runs out!), but I would make it an effort to go there. They have awesome sandwiches, my favorite is the Funky Chicken, and Andy’s is the Bob Marley. Sol Food also has amazing empanadas; also, they have great homemade bakery treats, like brownies and cookies!
In Isabel II, be sure to stop by La Viequenses Deli. We stumbled upon this great place when a different deli we tried to go to was closed – and we are thankful they were! They have a wonderful sandwich selection, and the bread is so delicious! Whenever we stop there, I get the ham and cheese sandwich, a fresh coffee and I just sit back and relax. This place is always busy whenever we go, so be ready to wait for your food, but it is hot and oh-so-tasty when you get it.
Things to Do
Vieques attracts visitors for a couple of main reasons: the Bioluminescent Bay, and their beautiful beaches. Those are the main reasons, however there are other things to do as well, like the Kiana Lagoon boardwalk, Mount Pirata, the old sugar cane plantation, diving and snorkeling.
For experiencing the Bio Bay, which is a MUST while visiting Vieques, you have a couple of options. You can join a group to kayak around the bay, or there is a company with an electric pontoon boat. Both times that we have done the Bio Bay tour, we have only taken the electric pontoon boat.
Some great companies for kayaking the Bay are
- Vieques Adventure Company which sounds really neat with a clear kayak to use while touring the Bay. It is $50/ per person, but you must provide your own transportation
- Bieque Eco Trips, and
- Abe’s Snorkeling also have kayak tours of the Bio Bay
Our favorite tour group to go with is Island Adventure, and they are the company with the electric pontoon boat. It’s $40/ per person and provides transportation to the Bio Bay. They pick you up in a school bus in front of Tradewinds and take you up to the Island Adventure office to sign in, and get a short explanation of what the Bio Bay is all about. Following that, you take the school bus down to the gate opening of Sun Bay, and drive down to Mosquito Bay, but let me warn you, it is one helluva bumpy ride!
The boat tour is about an hour long, and you will be amazed. Words cannot even explain how magical the Bio Bay is, and Island Adventures provides the best tour guides to explain everything to you!
Another fun adventure Andy and I embarked on while we stayed in Vieques is going on the Kiana Lagoon boardwalk. The first time Andy and I went down to Vieques, the boardwalk was closed because of all the rain and flooding they had. But when we went in December the boardwalk was open, and it was pretty neat. It is not long at all, but it winds through the Mangrove trees, lets your hear nature, and see some cool wildlife.
If you do head down to Kiana Lagoon, it is just another five to ten minute drive to Green Beach ( Punta Arenas), and it is one of our favorites. The furthest beach to the west, it is a quiet beach with rocky sands. We noticed that this is a great beach and location to do some snorkeling. From the shore we could tell that the water is crystal clear and we could see sea urchins and fish. Green Beach also provides open air shelters to duck out of the sun, if needed.
Blue Beach (Bahia de la Chiva) is located near the Wildlife Refuge Area, and it is a beach not to miss! Our first travels to Vieques we had traveled down the road to see what other beaches were available to us, and we cannot believe we had missed Blue Beach. This beach provides bright blue waters, and a white sandy shore. And I have never collected so many cool shells before in my life as I did on this beach! This is also another quiet beach, as many people stop at Red Beach (which isn’t bad at all! just more “see and be seen” than we like) so make sure this beach is on your list to see.
So there you have it, a list of places to stay, places to eat, and places to go! Vieques is a very magical place to visit, if you get the chance. And in any way that we can help, please do not be afraid to ask!
Things to keep in mind:
1) Vieques is hard to get around (no public buses) and taxis can be pricey – and if you want to hit up some of the more private beaches, look into renting a Jeep (and I say Jeep because the roads can be pretty rough). Maritza’s is a great place to rent one.
2) Use common sense when going to the beaches, do not bring high-price items. Pick pocketing is a big crime in Vieques, and unattended items on the beach are easy-to-steal items.
3) Knowing some Spanish is not a bad thing! Many people down in Vieques speak English, but it doesn’t hurt to know some Spanish to help get you around.
4) Like stated before – Vieques is an island off of another island, things don’t always go to plan with schedules. Make sure to check ferry times before you come to Vieques, and when you are ready to leave. Don’t be like us and end up missing the ferry and adding a huge dent to your vacation savings account.
5) Saturday nights in Esperanza can be seriously jumping! Just always take caution on what is going on around you, and don’t leave valuables unattended.
6) HAVE FUN!!!!
What’s your favorite Caribbean island? Tell us about it!