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Trip Report - Vieques May 2021

Island of Hawaii...
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Trip Report - Vieques May 2021
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I asked so many questions to you all here so I figured I would give back and provide my trip report after a week in Vieques with my husband. I am someone who loves knowing lots of detail in advance, so I will include all the info I think is pertinent for your planning!

Getting there was a *journey* to say the least but everything went according to plan. We decided to fly out of Ceiba on the same day as arrival in San Juan as opposed to flying out of SJU... it saved us $500, even with the cost of the taxi to Ceiba. We booked Luquillo Taxi to drive us from SJU to Ceiba Airport (RVR). It worked out great. Just an hour drive and the taxi was communicative, even when there was a bit of a delay. One suggestion I have is to first check the times that the regional airlines (VAL, Flamenco) are flying to Vieques, then pick your main flight to Puerto Rico accordingly because the regional airlines have a smaller schedule so it would probably be easier to work the other way around. In fact, ideally you could fly out of Isla Grande (SIG) which is closer to San Juan but unfortunately those flights did not work with our flight schedule. However, this is a moot point if you are booking it all on one ticket, which would likely be via Cape Air - we just wanted to save some money and did it this way. I mean, $40 per person to fly to Vieques is hard to beat. I do not recommend checking luggage as it is a bit of a headache and the weight limits are enforced on the regional flights (30 lbs per person). We had to pay extra. Pack light! We arrived an hour before our flight and because all the passengers had arrived we were able to depart early - perks of flying on a Cessna, I guess :)

We opted to take a taxi from VQS airport for our arrival to the hotel, instead of having the rental car left for us at the airport. That was just personal preference as we wanted to be able to meet the rental car company folks and ask questions if needed. Taxis should be booked ahead of time, you can ask your hotel for a good taxi number or there is a website online for "publicos" in Vieques that also has that information. They usually want you to keep them updated of your flight status on the day of since it seems that delays happen often.

COVID test requirements: Easy enough if you know what to expect. There were other travelers clearly caught off guard by this. it was a bit disorganized, but we were out of there pretty quickly once we got in line. We used curative to get our covid tests for free and the turnaround was very quick. Just fill out the travel declaration forms online before your trip and upload your results and you're all set. I had some issues with trying to get the dates of our trip entered (it would input a different date than the one I selected) but saw a tip here to start picking different days until you get the date you need. You'll get a QR code that you show them when you arrive in Puerto Rico.

Hacienda Tamarindo - wow! I could not recommend this hotel more and it was perfect for our needs - we booked the special with them that came with a rental car from Martiza's. They picked us up from the hotel, drove us to their office and handed us the keys to our Kia Soul after we filled out some paperwork. There was a $5 charge per day for any additional driver. At first I was concerned that we didn't have a jeep since many people here recommended one, but I am actually glad we went with the Kia Soul. The roads are narrow, so having a smaller car made driving less stressful and parking a breeze. No issues whatsoever with the car getting stuck or anything, even on the roads near the beach. GPS works fine on the island but you figure your way around pretty quickly.

The breakfast at Hacienda was incredible. It was the most amazing way to start the day and it's included in the price. Because it's made to order, we were always looking forward to seeing what the special of the day was - it ranged from mango and cream cheese stuffed pancakes, to breakfast sandwiches, to a corned beef hash, etc. They always have the option of just having eggs and hashbrowns, cereal, the basic stuff as well. The owner at the hotel was so friendly as well and would greet everyone informally in the mornings.

The hotel has rental chairs and snorkeling equipment. Some rental chairs are free, others have an extra charge, but there are plenty and we were just fine with the free chairs. They also have an ice chest and snack bar that is always fully stocked with all kinds of drinks (soft drinks, water, alcohol, mixed cocktail pouches), that you can go and get anytime and just put your name down so they'll charge the price. This was very convenient because the stores/restaurants in Vieques were not always open.

Restaurants:

Robins Grill/Mojito Bar just down the street from Hacienda (walking distance). When we arrived late and didn't have our rental car this was perfect for us. Typical bar food but their house salad is AMAZING and the sampler is more than enough for two people...and great mojitos.

Taco stand in front of El Blok Esperanza - best fish tacos I've ever had, period - we would've eaten here everyday if we could.

Duffys - Typical bar food, nothing special but gets the job done.

Bananas - Delicious - the fish on the Island is pretty much incredible anywhere, but they did it well here.

Biekes Bistro - So many menu options and all of them were good. I loved the fish tacos here as well! They were short staffed when we went so we were there for a while, but who is in a rush on vacation? :)

Groceries: Supermercado Morales is the largest grocery store on the Island and where I would recommend going if you need provisions - bring your own bag. The second best is the Green Store.

Activities: Esperanza Riding horseback riding tour is *SO* worth it. I was skeptical, honestly, because I didn't see the point but I am so glad I did it. It was magical, and you go places you can't otherwise go on your own and see Vieques from a different vantage point. There were some parts of the trail that the horses had to speed up and such, but they were so well trained, so even if you're inexperienced you will be fine. Plus, the guides are very good at instructing as to when those points are coming and how to position yourself.

Biobay tour - pretty cool - went by quickly, I think if you haven't seen a bioluminescent bay you should go.

Sunbay beach was our favorite beach. Lots of palm trees for shade and very easy to get to - if only one of the gates is open, don't worry you can still go to the beach. Unfortunately, Caracas was closed the entire time we were there which was disappointing since everyone recommended that beach. La Chiva beach was a bit remote and did not have as many shaded options. We went on the black sand beach on our horseback riding tour and that was just an awesome way to experience it.

The Ceiba tree is SO COOL! Definitely take a drive out there and check it out. I've never seen anything like it, and it looks like something out of a fairy tale and is a great place to take photos.

The fort was closed but we were able to walk around outside and see a panoramic view of Vieques.

Isabel is a good neighborhood with gift shops and restaurants, and has a supermarket there as well - seems like that's where most of the locals live with colorful houses and stray cats and chickens!

Speaking of strays, you will see TONS of wild horses but unfortunately my attempts to get close to them were not successful. They seem a bit skittish and keep away from people. Apparently they're not actually wild but most of the time owned by someone who allows them to roam the Island freely. If you have a hankering for petting a horse, do the horseback riding tour!

Lastly, I recommend having food/water on hand if you are staying during the week. Everything was closed on Monday (I think that's their actual day off since weekends are busy with tourists and such), many restaurants didn't open until Thursday, so plan accordingly for your meals and make a trip to the grocery stores to get some casual microwaveable meals (which is what we did)...also saves some money!

Anyways, those are all the details I could think of mentioning. Let me know if you have any questions!

Edited: May 10, 2021, 9:42 pm
12 replies to this topic
Hatboro...
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1. Re: Trip Report - Vieques May 2021
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Nice report - thanks for posting. My family stayed at Hacienda Tamarindo March/April and couldn’t agree with you you more. Breakfast on the veranda with views of the pasture and ocean is a great way to start the day.

2. Re: Trip Report - Vieques May 2021

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Framingham...
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3. Re: Trip Report - Vieques May 2021
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Great trip report! Thank you for taking the time to write it up1

Barrington, Rhode...
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4. Re: Trip Report - Vieques May 2021
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Nice trip report! Thanks for posting, good to hear you had a great trip!

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5. Re: Trip Report - Vieques May 2021
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Thanks for writing such a detailed trip report! We are traveling to Vieques for the first time in a few weeks. I’m just like you- love having everything planned out ahead of time to avoid hiccups along the way! I do have one question for you. How far ahead did you book your taxi from the airport in Vieques to where you were staying? And if you recommend the taxi you used, could I please have their name or contact info if you still have it? I like to use someone that others have had success with. Thanks so much! Glad you had a great trip!

West Bloomfield...
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6. Re: Trip Report - Vieques May 2021
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Did you have your QR code on your phone or printed on paper? I leave tomorrow, just curious. Thanks for your report

Island of Hawaii...
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7. Re: Trip Report - Vieques May 2021
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Stephanie O - the number for the Vieques Taxi we used is 787-741-8294. The hotel told us to book the day before or the morning of - I booked the day before. You can text the number too, but it’s probably best to call and follow up with text (they texted me what car to look for and the driver’s name on the day of.) I don’t know what the woman’s name was who answered the phone, but our taxi driver’s name was Marla.

Edited: May 11, 2021, 10:18 pm
Island of Hawaii...
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8. Re: Trip Report - Vieques May 2021
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Gina - the QR code was on our phones. You can access your login to the Puerto Rico gov website and get it from there on your phone. I also saved the QR code image on my phone just in case we couldn’t access the internet when the time came.

S R
Philadelphia...
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9. Re: Trip Report - Vieques May 2021
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Wow! This was a great run down of your trip! I'm hoping to get out there in a few weeks and was hoping to work from the island for a few days. Was the WiFi good on the island?

Fremont, California
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10. Re: Trip Report - Vieques May 2021
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Awesome trip. Thanks for your report.

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