I traveled to San Juan, Puerto Rico for a wedding with my boyfriend and decided to add Vieques, an island 8 miles off the coast, to our itinerary. Vieques is known for its breathtaking beaches, shallow blue waters, and bioluminescent bay. I didn’t take full advantage of points and miles with this trip, but I do have a few tips in this Vieques travel guide for those who would like to. If you are looking for a secluded, laid back beach vacation, there’s no better place than Vieques.
Best Time to Travel to Vieques
We were in Vieques in October and had lots of sunshine and no rain. Lucky for us since August through October are the most humid months. Peak tourist season is November to March so you will find cheaper options by booking outside this range. Summer in Vieques is hot, but increased water visibility makes it ideal for snorkeling and diving.
Getting to Vieques
The easiest option is to fly to San Juan and catch a connecting flight on Cape Air. However, easiest is not always cheapest. If you have time to spare, you may consider taking the ferry from Fajardo, a 45-minute ride from the airport. However, with traffic, it can take up to two hours. The ferry ride itself is about an hour. It sounds like a hassle but it may sound better when you hear that the price is only a few dollars per person!
We were strapped for time and ended up taking a quick 25-minute flight on Cape Air. I used the 40,000 point signup bonus from the Capital One Venture card to book my flight to San Juan on JetBlue. This saved me $450 and helped me rationalize paying for the flight from San Juan to Vieques. JetBlue is a partner of Cape Air but you cannot use points to book the Cape Air portion of this ticket. If you want to use miles, United offers rewards bookings that cover the Cape Air flight. A flight from New York to Vieques (connecting in San Juan) is 35,000 miles round trip.
We booked a package through Hacienda Tamarindo that included three nights with breakfast and car rental. Renting a car is essential. Roads in Vieques are winding, narrow, and poorly lit…fun for driving, but impractical for walking. Cabs can be unreliable so your best bet is to have your own car. It also makes it a lot easier to get to some of the beaches located in the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge. The roads here can get pretty rough so I definitely recommend getting a Jeep.
Our hotel had great views, a wonderful breakfast, and was close to Esperanza (the main tourist town). If you are looking to use points, the Chase Ultimate Rewards site has a few hotels that can be booked with points.
Beaches, beaches, and more beaches
Now for the fun part! The beaches are calm with clear pale blue water and best of all, very private! Most of the beaches we went to didn’t have anyone at them. There are so many to choose from that it’s hard for them to get too crowded.
My favorite was La Chiva which is located in the Wildlife Refuge. There are several paths off the main road that lead to different parts of this beach. We found that the farther you drive, the better chance you’ll have the beach to yourself. We set up under a palm tree with a picnic lunch and a few beers. Another favorite was Media Luna, where the water is waist-deep out to about 40 feet!
Some other favorites: Navio, Pata Prieta, and Caracas. Honorable mention to Playa Negra; I recommend it if you haven’t been to a black sand beach, but there was so much seaweed that it wasn’t swimmable.
Vieques at Night
Aside from the beaches, the main draw for me was the bioluminescent bay. Tiny organisms called dinoflagellate emit a blue-green light when stimulated. Mosquito Bay is the brightest biobay in the world! The clear bottom kayaks from Jak Watersport are perfect for seeing them glow. Biobay tours are best during a new moon as darker skies make it easier to see the bioluminescence.
For dinner, we mostly ate in Esperanza. The vibe here is laid back and islandy with lots of open-air seating. We ran into a couple of guys from San Juan when we were at Playa Negra who recommended a restaurant called Next Course. It was tucked away in a woodsy area and had such a unique feel. The food was outstanding and they had the perfect deck for dining decorated with strings of lights. I wish this restaurant was near where I live because I’d go all the time if I could. Still dreaming about the short rib I had here!
Give Vieques a shot!
Vieques was a great addition to my trip to Puerto Rico. I recommend it to anyone looking for peace and relaxation in the sun. Even if beach vacations aren’t your favorite (…I’ll admit, I’m usually more of city vacationer), it’s worth a trip just to see the biobay. For anyone who has been to Vieques, what are your favorite beaches? Comment below!