Vieques Puerto Rico Travel Guide
Vieques (pronounced Vee-AY-kez) is a Caribbean Island just off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico. My husband and I have been to Puerto Rico a few times now. And no matter what new destination we venture to, we have always said that Vieques Puerto Rico will, one day, be a place that we would love to call home. Well, at least a dream vacation home. It has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world with awesome snorkleling, a bioluminescent bay with microorganisms that give the water a blue glow at night, and wild horses that roam free throughout the country side. Below is a travel guide that shares tips on how to get to Vieques Island, top things to do and beaches to visit, plus tips on where to stay.
This post contains affiliate links for your convenience (which means, if you make a purchase after clicking a link, I will earn a small commission. This helps keep my blog up and running but it won’t cost you a penny more! Thank you for your support! In no way does this persuade my decision to promote these products. I do not promote anything I do not stand behind.) Click here for my full disclosure statement
How to get to Vieques Puerto Rico
From the San Juan International airport in Puerto Rico, you can take a 25 minute flight to Vieques Island for about $250 round-trip.
However, I recommend a more adventurous and budget-friendly route. Rent a car for about $10 per day at the San Juan airport. Drive to Fajardo (about 1 hour), where the ferry terminal is located. And take the ferry from Fajardo to Vieques which costs only $2 per person! You can also take a taxi to Farjardo from the airport. Click Here for taxi rates and shuttle services – all more budget friendly than flying.
We chose to rent a car, drive to Fajardo, and take the ferry to Vieques Puerto Rico. Then we took the plane on the way back at the end of our trip (see pic above). On the drive to Fajardo, I recommend setting aside some time to visit the El Yunque Rainforest. If you are short on time, at least stop by the Yokahu Observation Tower. It’s a tower within the El Yunque National Forest that gives you a 360 degree view of the rain forest and views of Downtown San Juan.
I also recommend having brunch at Las Vistas Cafe at Siete Mares Bay Inn in Fajardo before boarding the ferry to Vieques Island. Amazing food with a great view!
What to do and see on Vieques Island
First, I recommend renting a Jeep! You can take taxis, but there is so much to explore and you will want the flexibility. Some of the beaches need 4-wheel-drive to reach, so a Jeep is more preferable than a car. Click here for a trustworthy Jeep rental company in Vieques. From the ferry, we took a taxi to the Jeep rental location (not far from ferry terminal).
Our hope is to travel as a family as often as we can (at least as often as our work schedules allow us).
Click HERE to learn how we use points and miles to expand our travel budget. A step by step guide is included for you.
Explore a Variety of Beaches
There are 18 or more beaches you can explore on Vieques Puerto Rico, each with their own unique vibe. Click here for a link with details of each of the most popular beaches as well as secret secluded beaches. We haven’t visited all of them yet. But so far, my favorites include: Playa Negrita (Black Sand Beach), Esperanza Beach, and La Chiva (Blue Beach).
Take a tour of the Bio Luminescent Bay
Mosquito Bay in Vieques is the brightest bio-luminescent bay in the world. Puerto Rico is actually home to 3 bio bays, but Vieques has the brightest. This is the number one tourist activity on Vieques. You will understand why after you experience it yourself. My husband and I have taken the tour TWICE. For me, it is almost a spiritual experience. A guide will lead you out on glass bottom kayaks into the bay late at night. Millions of microscopic organisms produce natural light at the touch of your hand. The fish light up their path when they swim and the sky lights up with millions of stars and constellations. You may even see a shooting star or two. You almost feel like you are in the movie Avatar. Absolutely one of my all-time favorite experiences EVER. You won’t be disappointed! Click here for the link to the tour company we used including more details about the Bio Bay experience.
Observe the Wild Horses
“Wiiiiiiiild Horses…. couldn’t drag me away” (song lyrics for all you Rolling Stones fans). This song should be Vieques’ theme song. At one point I couldn’t shake the song out of my head because Every Single Time I saw a wild horse just stroll past me…Cue the Music in my head! You will be in awe of these beautiful horses roaming freely everywhere on the island. They are gentle and for the most part friendly.
Hike or bike one of the many off-the beaten path trails
There are many hiking trails all over the island. Several will lead you to some of the more secluded beaches. There’s also one that will take you to a lighthouse and old sugar mill ruins. I highly recommend scheduling some time for a few hikes. It’s a great way to learn more about Vieques and it’s rich history. During World War II, the United States Navy purchased and used 2/3rds of Vieques to provide a safe haven for the British fleet in the event of a fall to Nazi Germany. Post War, the US Navy used it as a testing ground and bombing range. Protests against the aerial bombing led to the Navy’s departure in 2003. Many of the beaches still hold the names that the Navy gave them, including Green Beach, Red Beach, and Blue Beach. Here is a link to a list of hiking trails and details about each trail.
Go Horse Back Riding
There are a few companies that offer horse back riding. We went with a company on the north side of the island in Santa Maria. They took us along the north beaches. There is also one in Esperanza. I had never been horse back riding on a beach before. It was a really fun experience.
Visit the Majestic Ceiba Tree
The Ceiba tree is deeply respected in Puerto Rico. Historically, the indigenous people would use the trunk to build their canoes. This one particular Ceiba tree in Vieques truly is GRAND. Estimated to be between three and four hundred years old, this tree in Vieques has become somewhat of a sacred site for locals, as well as an interesting site for tourists. It stands alone in this huge field with wild horses roaming around it. Set aside some time during you visit to stand and marvel at this majestic Ceiba Tree. You can find it on RT 200 just west of the Vieques airport.
We brought our own snorkel gear, but there are rental options in a few locations. It was lovely to have our own, since pretty much every beach has awesome snorkeling. Here’s a link for the travel snorkel gear we use. Mosquito Pier and Blue Beach are two of the top places you should seek out to snorkel.
Try Vieques Local Cuisine
There’s lots of restaurants to choose from in Vieques. Isabel, the main town on the north side of the island, has more to choose from than Esperanza. There is one restaurant in particular, though, that I really recommend you try. It’s called Coqui Fire Cafe and it’s in Isabel. It’s quite small, so you will need reservations. But the service was great and the food was even better! Try the spiced Margarita….mmmmm. We also liked Sol Food (food truck with great tacos) and Bananas which was in Esperanza. No matter what city I’m in, I always use Trip Advisor to seek out good food. So far, it hasn’t failed me.
Where to Stay in Vieques
There are many hotels, guest houses, hostels, and VRBO/Homeaway options, all at very reasonable prices. The low season is April through October, where you will get the best bang for your buck and less crowds. There are also some luxury hotels at higher prices including the most well known W Hotel in Esperanza. Not really worth it in my opinion because there are so many other great options. The two main areas with plenty of lodging, restaurants and shopping, are Isabel Segunda (on the north side of island by the ferry port), and Esperanza (on the south side of island).
Esperanza is really close to the Mosquito Bio-luminescent bay and is where the tour guides come to pick you up to take you on your tour of the bay at night. If you are only there for a couple of nights with no car rental, I recommend staying in Esperanza. My husband and I stayed at the Lazy Hostel during our first trip to Vieques. Was incredibly cheap, and perfect for a quick stay.
Isabel Segunda, Vieques
If you are traveling with family and/or have a jeep rental, I recommend a hotel or finding a quality VRBO property in Isabel Segunda. There are more restaurants and lots of shopping in Isabel Segunda. And as mentioned, with a Jeep, you can go explore the rest of the island. I found an awesome VRBO property for our second trip to Vieques, when we took my sister and brother-in-law with us. Here’s the link to the property. We loved this house. The view from the front porch was unbelievable. The island is small, so most properties will have an ocean view of some kind.
If you are looking for a laid back, relaxing beach vacation with a unique vibe and lots to explore, Vieques is a perfect destination. There are no all-inclusive resorts lining the coast and no cruise ports with thousands of tourists. It’s small and the beaches are unspoiled, largely due to the protection of the National Wildlife Refuge covering half of the island. The people are incredibly friendly, the food is good, and it will be a welcome change to your average beach vacation.
Happy and Safe Travels!
You may also like: Isla Mujeres Mexico-the perfect ‘Beach with Baby’ destination