Vieques is just to the east of Puerto Rico (and not far from the islands of St. John and St. Thomas.) To get there, you can take a ferry from Fajardo, or just fly directly from San Juan. Even though I’m not a fan of small planes, we chose to fly — and about 20 minutes later, voila!
We arrived right as the sun was setting over the Caribbean, and after checking into our inn, we set off to explore the little town of Esperanza. The “town” consists mostly of the restaurants, guesthouses, and a smattering of shops that line the waterfront (or malecón, as it’s called in Spanish.) But it was great…
Of course, our real mission was to check out as many beaches as possible….and we did. (More on that soon…)
Getting there – We flew over on Vieques Air Link, traveling from the teeny-tiny Isla Grande Airport in a teeeeeeny-tiny, eight-passenger plane. On the way back, we flew on Cape Air (also on a teeny plane) which landed at the San Juan Louis Muñoz Marín International Airport, where we caught our connection on jetBlue back to DC. (I’m not a fan of small planes, but I obviously survived, being as I’m writing this…it was also a bit of a hoot to travel through these super small airports — well, except for the part where you have to tell them how much you weigh….)
Lazy Jack’s – Great little bar, right on the main strip in Esperanza. (Also rumored to have good pizza, although we didn’t eat there…maybe next time!)
Duffys - A fun, casual spot right on the boardwalk (and just down from the place where we stayed.) Cold beer and good food — ‘nuf said! (Liked it so much, we went there twice…)
Bananas - Right next to Duffy’s, Bananas also offered some great food (and fun decor). I had sliders on “arepas” and of course, a fruity drink.
(As you can see, all of these spots are open and airy — no windows or doors — just nice patios so you can sit and look out towards the water. Duffys and Bananas also have guesthouses upstairs — and our inn, the Malecón House, was just down the street….more info on that coming in a separate post!)
Al’s Mar Azul - We were exploring the town of Isabel II (the only other town on the island, really) when the skies opened. Luckily, we were near Al’s Mar Azul so we ducked in for lunch. The decor alone could have entertained us all day…but of course we had to sample some wings with the famous “Coqui Fire” hot sauces. I’m a wimp, of course, so played it safe with a #4…….
Other spots/things I liked: The Funky Beehive, the Conde de Mirasol Fort, the crazy, 300-year-old ceiba tree, all the abandoned boats and barges lining the waterfronts…the horses wandering the streets…and the night skies. I have never seen so many stars in my life…
And last but not least, the Bio Bay Tour – No pics of this, since you can’t capture it with a camera…but if you are ever in Vieques, you Must. Do. This. You’ll paddle out into the darkness of the bay (with your guide, of course) and then, when you run your hand through the water and lift it back up, your skin will sparkle like diamonds. And you’ll look into the water and see streaks of light that burst along like those glittery fireworks that sparkle and gently fade — those are fish swimming along. Absolutely amazing…There are tons of different tour operators; I’d recommend picking one of the ones that use the clear-bottomed kayaks, and that limit their tour group sizes to 20 people or less (our tour was great but the group was a bit large….)