Why Vieques?

posted in: Sailing, Travel | 1

The island of Vieques is a Spanish Virgin Island located 6 miles east of the main island of Puerto Rico in the archipelago.  It is commonly referred to as “Isla Nena” or “Baby Island”. The hidden paradise has been discovered, and the secret is out about this tiny Caribbean gem!

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Caracas- “Red Beach”

It is a US territory and very easy to get to. It requires no passport, or exchange of currency for US residents. Despite being part of the US it maintains a rustic yet elegant exoticness all its own. A National Wildlife Refuge makes up 75% of the quaint 21-mile long island. Lush vegetation surrounds its plentiful white sandy beaches with crystal clear blue waters. The island boasts over 20 breathtaking and distinct beaches. There is not one stoplight on the island, no shopping malls, fast food chains, or high-rise buildings. Horses roam free around the tropical island and it surrounds the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world!

 

The bay has the highest concentration per liter of bioluminescent microorganisms – marine plankton called dinoflagellates, in the world. The plankton glow a bright blue-green when stimulated in the darkness of night, creating a magical experience for visitors.

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Sun Bay wild horses.

People on horseback, meandering cows, and horses share the winding narrow roads through the lush island. The sense of small town community amongst the locals and cheerful demeanor of the Viequense’s are one of a kind.  The distant sounds of salsa music, the coqui frogs chirping, and early-morning crows of roosters are the norm on Vieques. The smell of fresh caught seafood and grilled skewers from roadside food trucks, kiosks, and fine dining restaurants are plentiful. Exotic tropical fruits and vegetables hang in abundance from trees and are incorporated into the local cuisine.

Accommodations on the island range from inexpensive hostels to boutique guesthouses. There are also a handful of resort-like hotels with lavish amenities. The island has a casual laid back and welcoming vibe.

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Esperanza

Spanish is the primary language but English is spoken widely.  For visitors,  a rental car is recommended for exploration of the island and should be reserved in advance especially during high season (between November- May). There are also Taxi’s and Caros Publicos (Public Cars) on the island.  No Uber yet, but it has arrived on the main Island.

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Commuter flight from San Juan to Vieques.

 

Getting to Vieques is easy from the states or abroad. San Juan International Airport is the largest airport and is located on the main island of Puerto Rico. Flights over to Vieques regional airport depart from San Juan International Airport, Isla Grande, Ceiba, and Culebra in Puerto Rico and also from St. Thomas and St. John USVI’s. Ferries travel several times a day between the east coast of mainland PR in the town of Fajardo and Isabel II on the north side of Vieques.

The history of Vieques includes stories of Indians, the Spanish, Pirates, sugar cane farmers, and the US Navy.

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Milan and I waiting to board a commuter flight between the main island of PR and Vieques 2015.

The island has a robust high season and super slow low season.  In the hot summer months the hillsides fill with the blooming flamboyant trees and the islands pace slows way way down.  It is a different lifestyle as people are drawn to outdoor activities instead of cooped up in central AC.

Our dream of a nautical tourism business includes sharing the magic of Vieques with people from around the world during the high season.  The slow season is very quiet on Vieques and we plan to travel on our catamaran (basically a condo on the water) and hopefully expose our kids to a little bit more of the world.  On clear days, you can see St. Thomas and Culebra in the distance from Vieques.  The lesser Antilles are not far and lead a path island hopping down to South America.

 

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Playa Negra – Black Sand Beach

 

If you haven’t been to Vieques you truly are missing out!  You should come explore the breathtaking beaches, hike to Playa Negra (Black Sand Beach), and visit the Fort, the old bunkers, and sugar cane mills. Relax, unwind and escape the hustle and bustle. And while your there come see us to swim, sail and snorkel the crystal clear waters with Nauti Mermaid Charters to experience the wonder of Vieques by sea.

 

Getting to Vieques

There are two ways to get to Vieques, Puerto Rico: by air and by sea.
BY AIR
Travel by air is the fastest, easiest and most reliable method to get to the island. The short flights are on small commuter planes (8 passenger) and have beautiful aerial views. Most of the airplanes weight limit on luggage is 25-30lbs you will be charged $1/lb. over. There are three airports on the main island of PR that fly to Vieques (VQS):

San Juan International Airport – (SJU) the large international airport on the island which is about a 25 minute flight to Vieques (Typically the most convenient method for travelers (currently (2016) starting around $110 one-way).

Isla Grande Airport- (SIG) located in San Juan is a small informal airport approximately a 10 minute drive (approx. $20 Taxi- Uber $9-14) from San Juan International Airport and is a 20-minute flight from San Juan to Vieques.  (Cost is currently (2016) around $70 one-way).

Ceiba Airport (RVR) – (Jose Aponte de la Torre Airport). Ceiba Airport is in the town of Ceiba at the old military base airport and is another small informal airport. It is about 60 miles outside of San Juan and is a little over an hour drive (approx. $90 Taxi) from San Juan International Airport. The flight from Ceiba to Vieques is a 7-minute flight.  (Cost is currently (2016) around $30 one-way).

The airlines currently servicing flights from the main island of Puerto Rico
to Vieques are:

(Note: not all airlines fly to all three airports)

Vieques Air Link

Cape Air

Air Flamenco

Air Taxi

Other Options:

Private charters and airlines from the Virgin Islands

MN Aviation

Air Sunshine

BY SEA

The other option of travel to Vieques is via the ferry from Fajardo.  The ferry runs several times a day back and forth between the islands. Fajardo is about 45 miles east from San Juan, an hour drive (approx. $80 Taxi/ Uber $60). The ferry commutes from Fajardo to both Vieques and Culebra (cost only $2 one-way).

The ferry ride takes about an hour and a half but can vary based on weather conditions.  The ferry often does not leave on schedule and the locals commuting take priority over tourists traveling.

For the adventure travelers choosing this route, it is recommended to arrive early for the purchase of tickets especially during holiday weekends because of potential long lines.

Ferry Schedule Fajardo-Vieques
Fajardo to Vieques

4:00am (only Mon-Fri)
9:00am
1:00pm
4:45pm
8:15pm

Vieques to Fajardo

6:00am
6:30am (only Fri, Sat & Sun)
11:00am
3:00pm
6:30pm

Schedule times are subject to change.

 

One Response

  1. Patricia

    Savoring it!