Story submission by: GARI JAMES CUEVAS
Make the most of every day on Vieques with this 7 day itinerary.
The first thing to do is pick up your car. Renting a jeep is the optimal approach to navigating your way around the majority of the island, however a car will do. Many people say the best beaches are in the nature preserve which makes up more than 75% of the island and is only reachable by car (sure you can ride a bike or walk but it is a long distance and a bumpy ride). You should reserve your car as early as possible, we can't stress this enough. It is a very small island with very few cars and they tend to book very early.
Day 1 Saturday
Have your car, checked into your place, have your bathing suit? Bring it everywhere with you! Now head right over to Esperanza and have a Parcharita, one of Duffy's signature drinks, a passion fruit based margarita. Take a dip in the Caribbean Sea right across the street. One of the best places to snorkel is around the rocks at the very west end of the Malecon. Of course if you are staying at the W, you can walk right from your room to the beach and have a drink brought to you beachside... Whatever, Whenever!
Take a nap. After your flight over you must be tired, if you took the ferry you need one even more, but we commend you on your stamina!
Have an outstanding meal at El Quenepo, you'll love the food and the service is excellent. A real treat for your first night out on the island. Try their signature take on a classic Puerto Rican dish, a mofungo made with breadfruit grown in their own backyard. Now head home and go to sleep, if your driving beware of horses, beautiful in the day but you have to keep your eyes out for them wandering in the roads at night.
Day 2 Sunday Funday!
The day everyone heads to the beach.
Time to get out and explore the beaches! Spend the full day exploring all of the Wildlife Reserve Beaches. They are all off of the same road and each one is unique. The first one is Playa Caracas a.k.a. Red Beach. On your way to Red Beach is Playuela which is less than a mile hike. Playuela is beautiful and secluded but it can only be reached on foot, so save this for your next trip to Vieques, you'll be back.
After that is Pata Prieta a.k.a. Secret Beach, a tiny little cove of a beach, charming with a tree at the far end where you can hang a hammock if you get there early enough to claim the spot. Now head back up to the entrance of Garcia beaches and have lunch at Sol Food, the best food truck on the island, hand's down. You're in for a treat and a line but it's worth the wait. You'll want to grab some waters while you're there because you will want to spend the rest of your day exoploring the next three Garcia beaches.
Yes we're blue, huge fans of blue beach! One of the longest stretches of beach on Vieques with beautiful white sands, calm & crystal clear waters and azure sky and sea. We could spend all day here, but since it's only our second day we will save some time for Escondita and Playa de La Plata. Escondita is perhaps the most romantic, as there is only parking for two at this small cove. Last on the road is a local favorite, Playa de La Plata a.k.a. Orchid Beach... a.k.a. Silver beach. Phew, there's a lot to discover but each person has their favorite, and with locals it changes all the time.
Now, we know you must be exhausted, but it is your only Sunday here on Vieques so you need to head over to La Nasa in Esperanza.
Have a couple of cheap Medalla's (the local PR beer) and dance some Salsa with locals and tourists before you head home and cook up a meal on the grill.
Day 3 Monday
Discover the town of Isabel II
Begin your day with coffee and breakfast at Roy's Coffee Lounge. Have a cup of java and chat with the locals.
Funky Beehive and Sol Creation are nearby boutiques that have fashions and finds for you and your friends. Wander down the main street to Siddhia Hutchinson Gallery to check out the local and international artists work on display and then pick up any necessities you need in town. If you are all about the beaches then save this for a rainy day.
Monday night is the night to have dinner in town, but make a reservation. Most restaurants in town are closed Saturday and Sunday so they tend to fill up on Monday. Two favorites are Taverna and Coqui Fire. Taverna, a local favorite for Italian food, brick oven pizzas, pasta, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy on the TV Screen. Coqui Fire is one of the highest rated restaurants in all of Puerto Rico (as of this post Trip Advisor rated it number 7 out of over 2,000 restaurants in PR). You definetly need a reservation here whatever day you visit. Oh, and they make a world famous hot sauce!
Monday is also the only night for Grill Night at Chez Shack in Pilon (mid-island), which always draws a crowd. If you're in the mood for dancing to a live caribbean band, head here instead and save a night out in Isabel II for later in the week (M-F), but call first it is only open in season and only on Mondays.
Day 4 & 5 Tuesday & Wednesday
Time for some outdoor adventures.
You can really appreciate the island when you see it from the sea. A boating or sailing trip that includes some snorkeling at off island reefs is an adventure you will remember. You came to Vieques to relax after all.
Black Beard Sports 787-741-1892
Fin Time Adventures 787-981-4109
Vieques Island Powercat 787-980-9978
At Sea Vieques Sailing Charters 787-435-0256
Caribbean Lady Sailing Charters 787-930-5610
Little Boat Saling 787-366-5202
For horseback riders there is Esperanza Riding Company, paddleboarders and those who want to learn Vieques Paddleboarding, fisherman call Captain J. at Amity Charters, Fin Time Adventures or Isla Outfitters. And under sea explores should contact Black Beard Sports for diving and other activities.
The off-the beaten track beach is black sand beach. The black sand is created from magnatite, a volcanic material that washes from the hilltops above to create the sand. You can follow a dry riverbed (sometimes muddy) to the beach. The entrance is west of esperanza just before Gallery Galleon. You'll also want to stop at the gallery before or after your hike. A beautiful space and haven for local and interntaional artists.
The other destination beaches are Punta Arenas and Green Beach. Located at the western tip of the island the landscape changes here. In the shadow of Vieques' highest peak the scene is all palm trees and green jungle. The old military barracks are hidden beneath the ground on your way to Green Beach and when you get there some of the best snorkeling is among the reef along it's shore. Punta Arenas neighbors Green Beach and is the point where the Atlantic meets the Caribbean Sea. You can see the current from the shore. A beautiful sight, but we would not recommend a swim there because of the currents.
And, most-importantly The BIOLUMINESCENT BAY. The jewel in Vieques' crown. A must-see for all who visit. The brightest bioluminescent bay in the world that is best seen on the darkests of nights, so check out a full moon chart and plan this for the darkest night when there is little to no moon in the night sky.
Bio Bay Tours:
Abe's Snorkeling & Bio-Bay Tours
Black Beard Sports
Blue Waters Caribbean Adventures
Jak Water Sports
You'll be in Esperanza when you finish your trip so time for some fresh locally caught fish at Tradewinds!
Day 6 Thursday
More beaches, sunsets and rum punch with Reenie.
There are three public beaches: Sun Bay, Media Luna and Navio. Sun Bay is the easiest to access. Drive up and jump in the ocean, it is the only beach with facilites: toilets, water fountain, snack bar with excellent food and drinks (try the lobster arepas) and the only campground in Vieques.
Media Luna and Navio are a rough ride through mud filled craters. Explore these with a 4 wheel drive Jeep and fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy ride! At the end of the road is Navio, one of the most spectacular beaches on the island. A small sea cave on the left side of the of this beatiful white sand cove awaits exploration. Navio Beach is also an excellent place to body surf when the waves come in.
Thursday night is our favorite night on the ilsand, along with Tuesday and Wednesday nights! Those are the night's that Reenie is at Al's Mar Azul serving up some of the best Rum Punches on the island. We're told she makes a killer Margarita as well but haven't made it past the temptations of a Rum Punch or 3 at Sunset! Once you're snockered, you may not be in the mood to cook so head across the street to Mamasonga's rooftop deck, or venture mid-island to Tin Box (barbeque) and Noche(fine dining and sushi) located next to each other or Next Course (travel inspired cuisine).
Day 7 "Is it Friday Already?"
Take the opportunity to revisit your favorite spots.
Go back to your favorite beach, write your friends and make plans for your next visit. If you have fallen in love with Vieques, as most do, consider chatting with a real estate agent. We recommend Island Real Estate, Rainbow Realty and Vieques Realty and Rentals. On your last night treat yourself to a wonderful dinner at Sorcé or have cocktails in the W Living Room. Both are located at the W Retreat & Spa. If you are not staying there it is a must visit for it's beautiful design, architecture, dramatic outdoor lounge area and superb restaurant.
Is it time to leave already? We have one last recommendation before you board your flight. Isla Nena Cafe at the Vieques Airport is a favorite island watering hole and breakfast/lunch spot. Have one for the road!
Did your flight get cancelled because of a snowstorm up north? Celebrate your good fortune with Karaoke at Al's beginning at 9:00PM on Saturdays. Cheers!