Vieques

Travel Guide Caribbean Puerto Rico Vieques

edit

Introduction

Vieques is an island–municipality of Puerto Rico in the northeastern Caribbean, part of an island grouping sometimes known as the Spanish Virgin Islands. Vieques is part of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and retains strong influences from 400 years of Spanish presence in the island. Vieques lies about 13 kmilometres east of the Puerto Rican mainland, and measures about 34 kilometres long by 6 kilometres wide. Its one main town Isabel Segunda, the administrative center on the northern side of the island.

Top

edit

Geography

To the north of Vieques is the Atlantic Ocean, and to the south the Caribbean. The island of Culebra is about 16 kilometres north of Vieques, and the US Virgin Islands lie to the east. The former US Navy lands, now wildlife reserves, occupy the entire eastern and western ends of Vieques, with the former live weapons testing site at the extreme eastern tip. These areas are unpopulated. The former civilian area occupies very roughly the central third of the island and contains the towns of Isabel Segunda on the north coast, and Esperanza on the south. Vieques has a terrain of rolling hills, with a central ridge running east-west. The highest point is Monte Pirata at 300 metres. Geologically the island is composed of a mixture of volcanic bedrock, sedimentary rocks such as limestone and sandstone, and alluvial deposits of gravel, sand, silt, and clay. There are no permanent rivers or streams. Much former agricultural land has been reclaimed by nature due to prolonged disuse, and, apart from some small-scale farming in the central region, the island is largely covered by brush and subtropical dry forest. Around the coast lie palm-fringed sandy beaches interspersed with lagoons, mangrove swamps, salt flats and coral reefs.

Top

edit

Cities

  • Isabel Segunda or Isabel II is where most of the island's population lives. Isabel II is on the northern side of Vieques.
  • Esperanza is a smaller town which caters more to tourists. It is on the southern side of the island facing the Caribbean Sea.

Top

edit

Bio-Bay

The bioluminescent bay of Vieques, known as Mosquito Bay, is said to be one of the most spectacular bioluminiscent bays in Puerto Rico and the world. The bay has large numbers of dinoflagellates, who when stimulated glow to scare off predators.

Several businesses run tours to the bay for an average $30 per person. The best time to go on a night tour of the bay is when the sky is not very cloudy or if it is dark. If the moon is out then it will most likely be impossible to see the bay as it becomes illuminated. Even if the sky is cloudy and the moon is out your experience is very likely to be dull compared to moonless nights.

Also, do not use any chemicals such as lotions or bug spray (especially those containing DEET) because they harm the dinoflagellates. There are many kayaking tours to the bay so visitors will have to know how to paddle a kayak.

Beaches

One of the greatest things about this island are its beaches. Since the island was once a military training area, large parts of the island are now part of the U.S. Park Service. You can drive down dirt roads to isolated beaches with crystal clear blue waters. Park your rental truck under a palm tree and you may not see another person for the remainder of the morning.

The cons to the remoteness of Vieques' beaches lie in petty theft occurring at some of the beaches. Thieves can either hide in bushes or ride up on horseback (horses are not allowed on the beaches) and take a tourist's belongings. So when visiting a remote beach in Vieques leave your valuables at your lodging area; don't lock them in your vehicles.

Top

edit

Weather

Vieques has a warm, relatively dry, tropical to sub-tropical climate. Temperatures vary little throughout the year, with average daily maxima ranging from 28 °C in January to 31 °C in July. Average daily minima are about 6 °C lower. Rainfall averages around 1,150 1,400 mm per year, with the months of May and September–November being the wettest. The west of the island receives significantly more rainfall than the east. Prevailing winds are easterly. Vieques is prone to tropical storms and at risk from hurricanes from June to November. In 1989 Hurricane Hugo caused considerable damage to the Island.

Top

edit

Getting There

By Plane

Vieques is served by Antonio Rivera Rodríguez Airport, which currently accommodates only small propeller-driven aircraft. Services to the island run from San Juan's Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, Ceiba Airport or Isla Grande Airport (20- to 30-minute flight). Flights are also available between Vieques and Saint Croix and Saint Thomas.

By Boat

Vieques has ferry service several times a day from Fajardo. The ferry from Fajardo will cost about $2 per person and takes 60-90 minutes. Tickets for the Passenger Ferry cannot be purchased ahead of time via the internet, rather you have to show up at the ticket booth at your departure point 1 hour early and buy them at the ticket window. It is advised to be there early, especially on weekends, when it might be helpful to be at the dock at least an hour prior to departure, (and that's assuming you already have your tickets). The ferry usually begins loading 30 minutes prior to departure.

Top

edit

Getting Around

By Car

The most convenient way to get around the island is by renting a car. You may also get around by using the publico (taxi) system, but the taxis will only take you to easily accessible beaches around the island. There are bicycle rentals on the island.

By Bus

Public transportation is nonexistent except for publicos, which are independent. Publicos (vans that are loaded up like sardines) are waiting at the ferry for tourists. The fare paid by locals is $3 each way/per person to get to anywhere on the island, although as a visitor you may have to negotiate to get near that price.

Top

edit

Eat

  • Carambola (near Esperanza at the Inn on the Blue Horizon (see below)). Tuesday thru Sunday for dinner. Fine dining – renowned for serving the best food in Vieques created by Chef Xandra.
  • Chez Shack - Billed as a tree house located in the Pilon Jungle, this is truly a one-of-a-kind outdoor eating experience. While the surroundings are au naturale, the food is expertly prepared and exquisite. The place turns magic when the jungle turns pitch-black and the white Christmas lights brighten up the house in the jungle. Don't miss this experience.
  • Chicken King - This local eatery has some of the best fried chicken and fries you can get on the island.
  • El Quenepo, on the Malecon in Esperanza (The East end of the Malecon), ☎ +1 787 741-1215. Tu-Su: 5:30pm-close. Fun funky island food on the Malecone in Esperanza. Classy casual dining with amazing food and fantastic service.
  • Shauna's (Isabel II). If you want to dine with the locals come here. Brush up on your Spanish. They serve delicious, criollo Puerto Rican cuisine. Very reasonably priced, and some great flan.
  • Trade Winds (Esperanza). A beautiful ocean-front restaurant in Esperanza. Wonderful breakfasts, lunches, and dinners serving traditional American fare, fresh seafood and tasty cocktails. This restaurant also has some of the best commercial ocean-front views on the island.
  • Richard's Cafe, Road 200 (Isabel II), ☎ +1 787 741-5242. Service seems attentive, however, the kitchen takes a painfully long time to cough up even the easiest food, like a fish sandwich. On the upside, the food was served piping hot.

Top

edit

Drink

  • Chez Shack, Pilon, ☎ +1 787-741-2175. 5PM-1AM. It's the "In Spot" to rub elbows with the local ex-pats and party to the beat of a local Salsa band. $10 and up.
  • Duffy's (Esperanaza, adjacent to Banana's Guesthouse), ☎ +1 787 741-7600. Opens daily at noon, except Mondays when Duffy's is closed.
  • Blue Moon Bar & Grill (Esperanaza). Open 7 days a week, Tropical fares menu begins at 11:00am.

Top

edit

Sleep

  • Banana's Guesthouse (Esperanza), ☎ +1 787 741-8700, fax: +1 787 741-0790, e-mail: bananasvieques@gmail.com. Check-in: 1:00pm, check-out: 11:00am. A decent guesthouse located on the southern coastline. $65-90 per night.
  • Casa de Amistad, # 27 Calle Benitez Castano (Isabel Segunda, walking distance from the ferry terminal), ☎ +1 787 741-3758, e-mail: viequesamistad@aol.com. Comfortable guest house with a communal kitchen, small but pretty pool, located in the middle of Isabel Segunda. Not fancy by any means, but several steps above the youth hostel it used to be. $70 for one queen bed room, $85 for two full beds room, $90 for two room suite, two full beds in the bedroom and a separate sitting room, private bath.
  • Crow's Nest Inn, ☎ +1 787 741-0033, +1 787 741-0993, toll-free: +1-877-8163-169, fax: +1 787 741-1294, e-mail: thenest@coqui.net. $114 for double occupancy, $124 for a garden suite or $225 for a two bedroom, two bath with a deck suite.
  • Hacienda Tamarindo (Esperanza), ☎ +1 787-741-8525, fax: +1 787-741-3215, e-mail: hactam@aol.com. Hacienda Tamarindo, offers 16 very special rooms, each lovingly and creatively designed and decorated by owner, Linda Vail. Each guest room and public space is unique; imaginatively spiced with a lifetime’s accumulation of art, antiques, and collectibles. Amenities include: swimming pool, honor bar, box lunches, beach chairs, towel and cooler.
  • Inn on the Blue Horizon, Crrt. 996 Km 4.3 (Esperanza), ☎ +1 877-741-2583, e-mail: reservations@innonthebluehorizon.com. Check-in: 2:00pm, check-out: 11:00am. The boutique hotel on the island's southern coastal road, less than a mile west of Esperanza on a bluff overlooking the sea.
  • Beach House Vieques (Santa Maria), e-mail: michael@isla-vieques.com. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Three bedroom beachfront bungalows with private pool, washer/dryer, hammock and beach chairs $1,000 per week.
  • Villa Gallega, A-16-N florida Hill rt. 201 (150 yards From Crows Nest, left Hill), ☎ +1-212-784-6189, e-mail: vieques@icavs.com. Villa and Studio have A/C, stereo surround sound and TV. $750/850-$2500+ per week, depending on number of guests and Season.
  • W Retreat & Spa, Vieques Island, State Road 200 KM 3.2 - HC-1 Box 9368, Vieques Island, Puerto Rico 00765, ☎ +1-787-741-4100, e-mail: Wvieques.reservations@whotels.com. 156 rooms and suites. Away Spa on site. $350-$600 per night.

Top

Vieques Travel Helpers

We don't currently have any Travel Helpers for Vieques

This is version 2. Last edited at 8:27 on Aug 3, 17 by Utrecht. 3 articles link to this page.

Creative Commons License
Except where otherwise noted, content of this article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License