Everyone has a place. A place that they daydream about, that they yearn to visit year after year, a place where you feel at peace with yourself and can escape into total relaxation mode. Well that place for me is a Vieques. Vieques is a little tiny island off the coast of Puerto Rico that is free of cruise ships, chain hotels and everything annoying that you find in tourist infested destinations. This is exactly the reason my husband and I have returned to this little piece of paradise three glorious times.
I was almost hesitant to write this article because I kind of didn’t want to share my hidden gem with the world. What if my place get over-ridden with tourists? What if huge hotels and chain restaurants come in and spoil it’s beauty and the low key lifestyle that Vieques represents? And then I remembered that I am only publishing this on my little blog, not broadcasting it on the world news. So I hope my secret is safe with you ;). If you decide to take my advice and to travel to this tranquil island, here are my tips to total Vieques vacation success:
1. About the Island: Vieques is best known for the series of protests that occured against the United States Navy’s use of the island as a bombing range and testing ground. Don’t worry the Navy left the island in 2003. Today the area that was previously occupied by the navy is a national wildlife refuge, sporting numerous picturesque beaches. Many of the beaches are commonly listed among the top beaches in the Caribbean for their blue waters and white sands.
2. Travel Smart and Know Your Options: We live in DC, so taking a direct flight on either Southwest of Jetblue in to San Juan is a breeze and takes just under 4 hours, no passport needed! From San Juan, you have a few different options to get to the island, a prop plane from San Juan, cab to Ceiba airport and take a prop plane from there, or cab to the ferry in Fajardo. The plane from San Juan is obviously the quickest way to get there, takes about 20 minutes and the cab to the ferry will run you about an 1.5 hours for the cab ride and allow at least another 2 hours for the ferry (that is if you get there and don’t have to wait until the next one). The ferry is the most budget friendly option, cab will run you almost $100 and the ferry ride is $2 each way. Next would be the cab to Ceiba option, which flights on Air Flamenco run you $32 each way. And for last and most pricey and quickest option which will run you $120 each way from San Juan to Veiques. We have traveled all three ways but prefer the quickest option.
3. Island Transportation: Once you are there you will need some sort of ride to get you to all of the amazing beaches that you are about to discover. We prefer cruising around the island on mopeds that we rent from Fun Brothers. They are cheap and will get you to all the beaches that cars or jeeps will have a tough time getting to. Some of the roads leading to the beaches are rough and have huge pot holes but the mopeds maneuver quiet well in these conditions, better than the other vehicles. The island is 21 miles long and 4 miles wide, which is pretty small but large enough that you will need something to get you from point a to point b. Also, make sure to watch out for horses while driving! They roam free throughout the island, which is another reason why I love this island so much!
4. Housing Options: You have a few options for accommodations on the island of Vieques. It all depends on your budget and how many people you are traveling with. If you prefer to travel “baller style” and want to kick back, do nothing but drink cocktails and not make a meal all while in an uber chic setting, then I recommend The W Vieques. This is the only large hotel on the island and it is absolutely stunning. If you aren’t interested in staying here, I recommend stopping by for a drink, worth the stop. There are a handful of cute boutique hotels to stay in but each time we have traveled to this island have done so with a group of at least 6, so we always rent a house. We have stayed at Villa Uno and Tres Arcos and both are luxurious/gorgeous properties with incredible views, pools and more than enough room for 3-4 couples. On our most recent trip we stayed at Tres Arcos and absolutely recommend it to anyone making a trip to the island.
5. Activities You Must Do: Number one is to relax, unplug and take in the island life! And if you dig the relaxation thing, try a little yoga on your own or head to The W for a class. But if you are into more adventurous activities you will need to see the Bioluminescent Bay at night. There are a few options to see it but I think the kayak is the best way to experience it without actually getting in (which you should totally do if they let you). Go on a trail ride with the Esperanza Riding Company, the girls that run it are from VA and actually went to Radford too, small world! Make sure to check out Esperanza and Isabel Segunda, both are quaint towns that have a few restaurants and shops. Also try renting snorkeling or paddle-boarding gear at Fun Brothers and hit the beaches!
6. Best Beaches: Our all time favorite beach is Secret Beach, which is amazing because there usually is not a soul in site. We also love Red Beach, Blue Beach, Navio and Media Luna. But my best advice is to grab a moped and a map and start discovering it all on your own!
7. Our Fave Restaurants: For incredible ambiance and wonderful food our favorite restaurant is located in The Blue Horizon Boutique Resort, called Carambola Sunset. They have delicious mofongo, which is a native dish to Puerto Rico that is made out of fried plantains and is topped with fresh seafood, vegetables or pork. You have to try it while you are there, it’s practically a cardinal sin if you don’t! For great food for lunch or a casual dinner while in Esperanza, go to Bananas or Belly Buttons. We never made it to Tin Box but this place looks super cool. You will find the best empanadas at the Sol Food truck that is parked on the road that leads to most of the beaches, perfect to grab a few on your way to soak up the sun! While in Isabelle, stop by Al’s Mar Azul for a Medella (Puerto Rico’s native beer aka the only beer you should drink while visiting) or rum punch at sunset and have dinner at Restaurant Sabores for more mofongo (you seriously won’t get enough of this dish). Also, before you leave the island you have to drop by Coqui fire to pick up their hot sauce, it’s smokin!
If I haven’t convinced you to travel to this hidden wonder through my text, then hopefully my pictures will do a better job of describing this island’s beauty. Enjoy and I hope you are able to experience Vieques one day too!
Chloe Bikini by 6 Shore Road