Vieques, Puerto Rico is a Caribbean paradise. You have the clear blue sea, soft sand, swaying palm trees and, if you’re an American, all the conveniences of being in a United States Commonwealth. United States dollars (USD) is the currency in Puerto Rico and our phone coverage worked well here and without roaming charges. Also, English signage and speakers are abundant and we had no difficulty navigating Vieques or on the main island. There are two options to get from mainland Puerto Rico to Vieques: by air or by car/ferry. We arrived late morning at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU) in San Juan and promptly took a taxi to Fajardo to catch the ferry.
Ferry from Fajardo to Vieques
The taxi from SJU to the Fajardo ferry terminal took about an hour and half with traffic and cost a flat fee of $40. We arrived with more than an hour before the ferry was due to leave, but unfortunately it was sold out already due to it being a holiday weekend. We were exhausted from a red eye flight from Portland, Oregon but it was just another hour and half until the next ferry was due so we got some empanadas and powered through and waited…and waited…for 2.5 hours.
We were relieved when we finally boarded and took off, until we encountered the choppy seas and the nausea and sleep deprivation kicked in. I felt like crying, but we both settled for a nap instead. Unfortunately it was dark by the time we arrived in Isabel ,Vieques. There were plenty of cabs and vans available at the port so it wasn’t a problem getting a ride to the other side of the island, where we stayed in Esperanza. We arrived just in time to catch the end of the sunset.
It costs $2 for a one way ticket from Fajardo to Vieques or Culebra. Vieques ferry takes a little more than 1 hour.
Travel by Air
We couldn’t stomach the thought of dealing with another ferry ride back to the mainland when our 3 days in Vieques were over. The ferry has a reputation for not being timely, but I’m sure the holiday weekend didn’t help matters. We bit the bullet and bough overpriced, last minute tickets on Cape Air for the return trip. It cost $100 per person for the 25 minute flight, but with just 3 short days days in Old San Juan it was worth it. The little airport in Vieques was efficient, everyone was kind and the flight was beautiful. It was our first time in a little 9 seater Cessna 402C so the turbulence was a little nerve racking at first!
Getting Around Vieques
Taxi: As mentioned earlier, there are plenty of taxis and vans waiting if you come by ferry. We only took a taxi twice; that first night and again when we went from our bed and breakfast to the airport.
Jeep: This is a very popular mode of transportation on the island. We had planned to rent a Jeep when we got there but of course they were all rented out. DON’T WAIT. Book your jeep rental as soon as you book your hotel. The main roads are managed well, but as you can see below, paved roads can get a little rough. Especially when it’s rained the night before! We somehow managed to get around the puddle below on a scooter on our way to Green Beach. So, if you have the ability to- rent a jeep and expect to pay about $80-$100 per day.
Scooter: The method of transport for budget travelers and procrastinators! We managed to snag the last one from Fun Brothers, who we would totally recommend. If you get there as soon as they open you have a better chance of getting one. After a long day exploring beaches and snorkeling our scooter popped a tire on the highway back to town. We called Fun Brothers and they promptly brought us a replacement (and better) scooter. A lot of water equipment is rented out here as well, such as: snorkel gear, paddle boards, kayaks and jetski’s. You can also book a bio-bay tour here. It is located on the malecón and is within walking distance from most hotels in Esperanza. Exploring Vieques by scooter turned out to be our favorite activitiy. We paid $55/day for our scooter rental and $12/day for snorkel gear.
If you’re going to drink while driving [the scooter] make sure you hide your beer. There are a lot more cops out than usual.
-Advice from a “helpful” 20-something year old local
1. I could never support drinking and driving; I have personally lost friends from drunk drivers and as a nurse, I am only too aware of the potential consequences. We received the unwarranted and unhelpful advice above from one young guy and his girlfriend. Later that day we heard a similar thing from a couple guys we had met a breakfast. There is definitely a more “relaxed” viewpoint on drinking and driving on the island, so be aware when you are on the road. It should go without saying, don’t drink and drive. Even if it’s just a silly little scooter. A scooter vs man, or scooter vs car incident doesn’t bode well for anyone.
2. We had heard to try and stay off the roads at night. Unfortunately we found ourselves driving our scooter at night twice one day, on our way back from dinner and again when meeting up with our group for the Bioluminescent Bay tour (that got cancelled due to weather conditions after we arrived). I was nervous and wouldn’t recommend it, but the view of the stars in the dark sky, with the warm breeze in our face…it was pretty magical.
3. Oh, and make sure you wear your helmets if you rent a scooter- it’s the law!