7 Reasons Vieques Island, Puerto Rico Needs to Be on Your Summer Travel List
Will this be the summer of Puerto Rico?
Puerto Rico had a big moment this year. Not only did Justin Bieber and Luis Fonsi name-check the island in their song of the summer, Despacito, (“This is how we do it down in Puerto Rico”), but Bruno Mars also sang about it in his summer smash That’s What I like, (“I’m talkin’ trips to Puerto Rico, say the word and we go”). The world was buzzing about this little U.S. territory last year, and it seemed that tourism was just starting to boom on this still-somewhat-undiscovered island territory. But, with catastrophe hitting the island last fall with hurricanes Irma and Maria, Puerto Rico hit a major setback in all of its tourism efforts. I’m here to say, however, that some 9 months later, Puerto Rico is back and it’s time vacationers return to this beautiful and charming island paradise and take advantage of the super reasonable fares and hotel prices that are going on right now down there.
Here are 7 reasons why Vieques Island should be the next trip on your bucket list
1. Puerto Rico is the king of Caribbean cool
Walking the line between U.S. territory and international hot-spot, it’s an ideal weekend getaway from the mainland. Puerto Rico is known for its laid-back, relaxed Caribbean vibe that competes with the cultures of Cuba and Mexico, but feels so much less discovered.
Vieques island, a 20-minute island-hopper flight away from San Juan, is a blend of Spanish, African, and Indian influences, and boasts lush, tropical forests, white sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters perfect for scuba diving and snorkeling, a bioluminescent blue bay that glows in the night, wild horses that roam the beaches, a colorful Latin-American culture, a historic old town, and a lively bar scene.
Vieques has all the charm, relaxation and adventure of a Caribbean island without ever having to pack your passport or exchange your US dollars. With so much to offer for a quick long weekend, here are my must-dos for planning the perfect trip to Vieques.
2. Golf carts are the preferred mode of transport on the island
Sure, you can rent jeeps or vespas to get around if you need to, but golf carts are such a quirky Vieques thing to do, that I just had to do it.
You can rent a golf cart from your hotel (I love the Blok hotel!) and use the map of the island the concierge gives to make your way around Vieques, stopping along the way at as many beautiful beaches as possible and always keeping an eye out for the wild horses that roam freely around the island.
3. The beaches are impossible to beat
Whether in your golf cart, in a jeep or by vespa, exploring the many beautiful beaches that Vieques has to offer is a must-do. There are many different types of beaches, ranging from powdery white sand to soft black sand to the more rocky and rugged snorkel and dive spots.
Chiva Beach, or Blue Beach, is an off-the-beaten-track beach, with a stunning long stretch of white sand and very few people.
Caracas Beach, which is the locals’ favorite, is full of families barbecuing, crystal clear aqua water, and gorgeous sea caves.
Pata Prieta Beach is a small beach with crystal-clear water, beautiful rocks and great snorkeling.
Playa Negra is a beautiful black sand beach that is about a 10-minute hike from the road.
4. You can get your Caribbean bar hop on
Calle Flamboyán, a strip of boutique hotels, bars, and restaurants, was one of the highlights of the trip. Start (and end) your night at Lazy Jack’s, the hot-spot hostel run by hilarious ex-pat bartenders. Lazy Jack’s boasts island-famous cocktails and delicious pizzas. It’s a great destination for a casual dinner, some drinks or just people-watching.
After hitting Lazy Jack’s, make your way down the road to El Blok, a boutique mod hotel with a fabulous trendy rooftop bar, before heading across the street for some local live music and dancing at La Nasa.
5. You can do some of the best snorkeling and sailing in all of the Caribbean
Book a sailing tour with Sea Vieques, a company offering chartered sails to some of the beautiful, far-off reefs surrounding the island. We leisurely sailed the smooth waters out to Cayo Blanco and snorkeled for a couple of hours before sailing home. The reef was full of colorful coral and vibrant fish, and even nurse sharks! Captain Judi made the whole trip memorable, teaching everyone all about the sea-life that is native to the beautiful island.
6. You can do a moonlit Kayaking tour through the world-famous bioluminescent bay
Considered the brightest of the world’s remaining bioluminescent bays, kayaking Mosquito Bay in Vieques is a must-do in Vieques.
The science behind the glowing bay is that it is filled with single-celled organisms called dinoflagellates, which omit a split-second flash of light when they are touched (or paddled through in a kayak). The sensation creates a stunning glowing bay at night that can’t be captured by any camera. Photo evidence or not, it was one of the coolest natural phenomenons I have ever seen. Moonlit kayaking on a warm night was beautiful and relaxing on its own, but as we made our way to the center of the bay (where the luminescence is brightest), the magical otherworldly bay came to life and I realized why everybody talks so much about this place – it’s something you truly have to see to believe.
7. Or just relax at your epic eco-luxury villa
Or, if you want to stay in a hotel, check out Hacineda Tamarindo a suuuuper cute hotel option in Vieques – or El Blok hotel, an awesome resort right in the center of Vieques.
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Fantastic place! I love the pictures!
la nasa, lazy jacks, W hotel and the bio bay are closed…
Been living in Puerto Rico for over a decade. Vieques and Culebra offer some of the best beaches you will see in the world. Playa Caracas and Playa Flamenco have the whitest sand I’ve seen so far. Also, Bio Bay reopened. Either way, the second Bio Bay is in Fajardo, which is where the port for the ferry to Vieques is, so you’ll need to go there regardless.
I’ve lived in Puerto Rico all my life and going to Vieques and Culebra over the summer is one of my favorite things to do.