After some days spent in the South and East of Puerto Rico, we wanted to visit at least one of its large islands – Culebra or Vieques. As we couldn’t decide whether to do our beach holidays in Culebra or Vieques and we stayed 3 weeks in Puerto Rico, we did both. In the previous post, I was talking about Culebra Island and today I will go on in the same style with Vieques, which means showing you virtually the island on the pictures while providing you with some useful tips in case you decide to visit Vieques soon. Ready? 🙂
Why you should visit Vieques
If you want to escape the mainland of Puerto Rico and enjoy some rest on calm and wild beaches, meet wild horses, do kayaking in the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world, then you may find your happiness on Vieques! Vieques is still less popular than Culebra and is also missing the large hotel complexes which is good news for the ones who try to escape mass tourism and don’t fancy crowded places!
How to get there
Similar to the connection between the mainland and Culebra, also here you have two options. Either you take a ferry from Fajardo or you can fly from San Juan or Ceiba.
The ferry is what most people do as it is very cheap (we paid something like 3 dollars for a one-way ticket) and the journey from Fajardo does not take more than 90 minutes. Currently, there are about 3-4 ferries per day. Although there are usually fewer people waiting for the ferry to Vieques than for the one to Culebra, still remember that in high season and on weekends and public holidays, many locals take breaks and spend them on the islands (and the locals have always a priority). Therefore, it is good to be there a little bit in advance. Unfortunately, by the time we went, it was not possible to buy tickets earlier or book them online. Here is some info though.
It is often advised to take the plane which costs about 40 dollars one way per person, but the views are spectacular, and it is less stressful as it can be booked in advance (and online). Although be aware that these are small planes and the seats are limited (7-10 per plane) as well as the weight of your baggage. For the information about available flights, check out Vieques Airlink.
As we did both islands, we took the ferry from the mainland to Culebra, from where we took the plane to Vieques and then ferry back to the mainland. Despite the complaints online, the flight with Air Flamenco was very nice. We only paid some additional dollars for the overweight of our luggage. The flight itself took only 15 minutes and the views from the plane were truly spectacular, see the below pictures!
How to get around
The airport and harbor are located in the North of the island, while the main center Esperanza where the majority of guest houses and B&B’s are located in the South. Again, there is no public transportation on the island and the distances may be quite long. So in some cases, you can make a nice hike just to reach a beach, although if you get 30 spines from a sea urchin in your foot as it happened to me on Culebra, this may not be what you are looking for, right? 😀
Otherwise the taxi service operates on the island and can take you to the majority of the places. You can also rent a car, although you should book it in advance when traveling in high season or during public holidays.
Beaches and to do tips
Unfortunately, 3 out of the 4 days we spent on Vieques were quite rainy with cloudy sky. Also, due to my feet hurt by the sea urchin previously on Culebra, I was not able to walk much beyond Esperanza town and therefore we only stayed on the two closest beaches plus we also did the kayak in the bioluminescent bay.
Sun Bay beach is a very long one and just a walking distance from the town of Esperanza. It is usually crowded (although during the cloudy days we almost had it for ourselves!). Part of the beach is still wild, and you can find some shade under the palm trees and bushes, where you can also see wild horses freely walking and running. Simply amazing!
Beautiful white-sand Caracas Beach is located a bit further in the natural reserve and you will either need a car or a taxi to get there, but it is worth going! I can even imagine its upgraded beauty during sunny days… 😉
Mosquito Bay is the famous bioluminescent bay that inspired the movie The Life of Pi. You can find the largest concentration of dinoflagellates here which makes Mosquito bay the brightest bioluminescence bay in the world! Millions of microscopic marine organisms living in these waters glow when touched. Btw, below is how it is presented everywhere…
Vieques, Puerto Rico Bioluminescent Bay, Mosquito Bay is located on the southern shore of Vieques Island. This magical bioluminescent bay (bio bay)has been officially declared the brightest recorded in the world by Guinness Book of World Records 2008. #vieques #viequesbiobay #viequesisland #puertorico #paradise #perfectview #travel #turismo #caribe #caribbean #caribbeandestinations #caribbean_destinations #mosquitobay #bioluminescent #bioluminescence #bioluminescentbay
But how was the experience in real? This kayaking in bioluminescent bay experience was supposed to be one of the highlights of our trip to Puerto Rico. We were expecting to see something similar to what you can see on the pictures, but in reality, when you agitate the water with a paddle or finger, you see rather a neutral bright glowing blue light. Not like the stunning blue light on the enhanced vibrant pictures. But still it was a nice experience.
If you decide to give it a try, then the best way to explore the bright show is to book a night kayak tour from Esperanza (swimming is forbidden because of the chemicals from deodorants, sunscreens or DEET present on our skin can damage the microorganisms). Be aware, that moon phase matters and the best time is when the moonshine is very low! More information about Mosquito Bay here.
On Vieques you will find mainly remote beaches, therefore don’t expect any food or refreshment there. In Esperanza, there are some restaurants, out of which I only recommend Rancho Choli where we really enjoyed the food and the family who runs it was so nice! There are also two shops in the proximity of the town where you can do some groceries.
Where we stayed
We stayed in a beautiful Villa Coral Guesthouse. There are just 5-6 rooms with private bathroom (some also with private kitchen) and a common terrace where you can make your own breakfast and catch some wi-fi signal (which was sometimes a challenge). It was about 20 minutes’ walk from the city center where you have some restaurants and kiosks with swimwear, postcards etc. There were also two shops at a distance of about 10-15 min’ walk and the nearest beach was about 30 min’ walk.
Have you been to Vieques or a bioluminescent bay anywhere else? Tell me about your experience in the below comments!
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