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“Some things I read were true - others were not”
Review of Isla de Vieques

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Littleton CO
Level Contributor
32 reviews
20 helpful votes
“Some things I read were true - others were not”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 7 November 2012

Based on my experience, some things written on Trip Advisor about Vieques seem to be true. And there are some things I did not find to be true at all.

Personal safety: don't go places alone? Not true. I am a single woman and never felt any danger on the island. I will say that petty theft is rampant and you simply cannot tempt the locals in any way.

Pretty: The beaches are incredibly beautiful. No argument there. I was very sad to see how the residents abuse their environment. There is little or no recycling - maybe it is too expensive? The amount of trash along the roads, in the streets and around houses is bad. So sad that locals don't value what they have and take care of it better. In contrast, Culebra was pristine. I never saw litter or garbage anywhere except in the trash receptacles. So strange that neighboring islands would be so different.

Dangerous to drive: Not true. The roads were in really good shape on most of the island. They are not super wide. You have to share and be willing to stop on the shoulder and let people go past you at times. No big deal. Parking in Isabel is a nightmare. But dangerous? I think not.

Friendly: I can't say I got a friendly vibe. I did my best to smile, be pleasant and say "buenas dias" when passing anyone. On most islands, I get an in-kind response but almost everyone on Vieques either ignored me or frowned. The folks who work at the various stores and restaurants were helpful and friendly.

General items: I talked to some locals and they report that Vieques is known for having a lot people who do nothing but live on food stamps and welfare checks. They have a big teen pregnancy and illiteracy problem here. This is not ture of all islands. I have been to islands which have a literacy and high school graduation rate of 90%. I found the difference between Vieques and Culebra to be huge and I will visit Culebra again but probably not Vieques.

Helpful?
2 Thank susan13579
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Cincinnati
Level Contributor
22 reviews
22 helpful votes
“Do not miss this amazing Island!!! Vieques is a dream...here are some tips!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 27 June 2011

My husband and I just got back from our amazing honeymoon in PR. We decided to go to PR at the last min (literally bought our plane tickets the week before the wedding) so we had no itinerary planned at all! We stayed the entire week at a resort in Rio Grande....we love to relax but we also love a good adventure and after doing some research on trip adviser etc my husband was set on taking a day trip to Flamanco Beach in Culebra .

A lot of the reviews we read recommended getting to the Ferry at least an hour early if you want to get tickets for Culebra but we figured 30 min was fine because it was the off season. We were wrong! We got there around 8:30. The 9am ferry to Culebra was already boarding (line was out the door around the corner and the corner as well) and the ticket line to get 3pm tickets to culebra was insane! So we walked over to the Vieques Ferry line bought 2 round trip tickets and went to Vieques instead.....this was best idea!
Here is exactly how I would do this all over again. If you can spend 2 days (1 night) in Vieques.....There are really cute clean Inn's in Esperanza which is in the little downtown with fun beach little bars and restaurants. Call a couple days before your trip and reserve a rental car or jeep. All the car rental places were sold out when we got there but the lady at the toursim center said Maritzas and I think the Ocean view hotel rents cars (if your on a budget there are cabs right off the ferry. For a day trip it is OK just to take the cabs but ONLY if you are going to one place for the day..... if you want to check out a couple spots it's hard to get the cabs to work with you on this...becuase they put you and 10 other people in the cab and most of the people just want to go to red beach) The cab fare is $3 per person each way). So make sure you bring cash. I would also call ahead and book a snorkel trip at Abes (they were also booked when we arrived) or if you just want to snorkel on your own pick up gear at the Blue Caribe ($10 per person for fins and masks in esperanza).
Take the 9:30am Ferry to Vieques I would recommend getting there at 8:00 because you have to park, stand in line for tickets, and then wait in line to board (get round trip tickets!) Try to get in the boarding line early so you can get a window seat!, When you get there (10:45ish) pick up your rental car and head to Esperanza for lunch. I HIGHLY recommend Duffys! This place has an amazing selection of beers (definitely seems like it's owner by someone from the states). The servers etc are from the US too. This place is soo cool they have 50's 60's and 70's Music videos playing on the flat screens on the walls....its just really cool. If your renting snorkeling gear walk over to the Blue Caribe after lunch to get your gear and then check out some of the cool beaches on the island. We went to Red Beach it wasn't too crowded the water was soo blue it was beautiful! We really wanted to go to Blue beach too heard amazing things but the cab drivers didn't have enough people to take us there so we just stayed at red. We heard Blue is great for snorkeling. Esperanza also has little huts with Kayak rentals too. I would then go back check into your Inn and walk around the little town of esperanza. We wish we had at least 2 days there because there is so little time with the Ferry Boarding, cab rides etc to see all this amazing island has to offer!!

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3 Thank MEHEALS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Nashville, Tennessee
1 review
9 helpful votes
“One week stay in Vieques June 1-June 8, 2011 My pros and cons”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 17 June 2011

* a note that we spent 3 days in San Juan before Vieques and enjoyed it very much. I will post that on a separate blog.

Two adults and 2 children ages 9 and 5 rented a house in Isabel II in the Martineau Estates for one week. Overall the island of Vieques some would say is full of unspoiled beauty and probably should be marketed as eco tourism and for those looking for an off the beaten path Caribbean vacation. The Bio bay tour we took from Island Adventures on our last night made me understand that the Island is to be enjoyed for its natural undeveloped state. Our tour guide, Marcos, was educated and passionate about the preservation of the Island and that is where Vieques stands apart from other islands in the area. It seems like this is how the locals and expats want to keep the island and I don’t blame them. It will probably never have a commercial tourist market.

With that said, It’s not the greatest place for a family vacation with children. If you require a certain level of accommodations, you should probably look elsewhere. Not to say children should not go but they must be able to deal with roughing it a little bit. They will need to be able to get by on the beaches without facilities, the humidity, mosquitoes’ and sometimes limited food selections available. A rental with a kitchen will make your days more convenient by giving you the option of making your own meals from the fish market or grocery stores. We had rain every day and along with an ER visit it was not the most enjoyable vacation for us but we made the most of it. I am glad we went. Will we go again? To Puerto Rico –maybe. To Vieques- probably not. Here are my Pros and Cons for those thinking about a first time visit to Vieques. –
PROS:
Bio Bay- we took a larger boat from Island Adventures. Probably the highlight of the trip for us. We swam and learned the history and why the water "glows". Not good for small children under the age of 7 or so. Long bumpy bus ride and it was very dark and might be scary to some.

Snorkeling-My 9 year old son I enjoyed incredible snorkeling. There are many great spots to see very colorful fish and underwater plants.
-Beaches- beautiful and most of the time empty beaches. There is one beach perfect for kids or older adults that has a calm shallow swimming area.

-Fish Market in Isabel II near the ferry- fresh caught that day Snapper, Grouper and Lobster. We grilled sea food 2 of our nights.

-Emergency Room Doctor Sanchez- A visit to the ER found my 5 year old had tonsillitis on our first day. She was an Incredible and caring doctor who arrived in Vieques 3 weeks earlier from Florida. With her treatment she saved our vacation and kept us out of a hospital stay in San Juan.

-Easy to drive and had no problems with safety or other drivers. Be considerate for the wild horses that are everywhere. As a horse lover this was one of my favorite things about the island. You must rent a car to get around PERIOD.

-Inexpensive Puerto Rican Rum-Ron del Barrilto was my favorite and found for about $10.00 US for a bottle in the grocery store. I saw the same size bottle in the duty free store in San Juan on my return for $22.00. I can’t stop kicking myself for not bringing a few bottles back in my suitcase. Beer- Medella- good but not cheap @ $20.00 a case and only in 10oz cans.

- Pinches (chicken on a stick) stands setup roadside. Inexpensive and delicious. A very good one is found downtown next to Black beards run by a local guy named Willy.

W Hotel- it probably seems out of place by some visitors but was a nice break for us to get a massage one afternoon and also to dress up for a nice dinner. Both are available for non-guests.

CONS:

Rained every day, very humid and the mosquitoes were horrible.

-No local fresh fruit and vegetables. Some said because of the pests and some say not is season. Others said the locals grow gardens but don’t sell to the public. You can find local bananas and a few mangos(most are not ripe). Otherwise all other veggies and fruits are shipped in and found frozen at the grocery store. Nothing exotic like I had read about that was available in Puerto Rico.

-Mediocre and expensive food prices for what you get in restaurants. Only a few were open in Esperanza. More listed below under city center remarks.

-No facilities at beaches-bathrooms at one Public Beach but not very good. No tap running water to wash off after swimming. Be sure to pack a cooler with and have everything you need for the day.

City Centers-Isabel, the port town, had some things going on but was pretty run down and dirty. They some shops opened by expats that are nice , restaurants and a bakery. Esperanza on the coast was also run down and dirty. No need to take any dress up clothes as the dress is sloppy from what I saw.It looks like they are trying to build up the boardwalk as I noticed light posts were being installed. Only a couple of restaurants were open and probably a good spot to stop off if you are sailing around to different Islands. I would not stay in any of the Hotels in that area. The strip had a stale beer and garbage smell. It was odd seeing a junkyard full of old cars and scrap metal on beachfront property next to the boardwalk. Food was average. We tried hamburgers, Cuban Sandwiches and even the local Mofongo (plantain with shrimp, chicken, conch, fish or beef for $17. 50) and it was a letdown.

this is an honest opionion from a well travelled family that is not spoiled or pretentious. We have no problem roughing it and sometimes enjoy it. I hope this helps anyone planning a vacation to Vieques. I will be happy to answer any other questions if any. I respect the natural unspoiled beauty of the Island but it did not blow me away. I can see a little more potential if the weather would have been better but that was what we were dealt.

Helpful?
9 Thank GEC11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Margaretville, NY
Level Contributor
6 reviews
7 helpful votes
“Vieques- not much to recommend”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 8 June 2011

We spent a week in Vieques in late May, 2011 and experienced mostly rain. We learned afterward that May is usually the rainiest month. We did get out to see parts of Vieques but were disappointed in the lack of nice beaches, worthwhile attractions and things to do (kayaking on Bioluminescent Bay is a bit overrated and looking at wild horses was fun for a few minutes) as well as the run down appearance of so many of the residences and commercial buildings and lack of good eateries.

To get to Vieques is not easy or cheap. A puddle jumper from San Juan airport to an airport on Vieques is one option or a 60 mile taxi ride is necessary to get to the east end of Puerto Rico (Fajarda) where you get a ferry for $2.00 each that takes about 1 1/2 hours to the dock in Vieques. It is then recommended, due to nearly non-existent public transportation, that you rent a car to get around. We rented a car for $70 a day that was nothing less than a broken down heap and it died a natural death the first day after getting to a nearby restaurant from our hotel (Tamarinda) for dinner. We had a wet walk home in the rain and we called the next morning for a replacement - another heap with bald tires. There are only 3-4 or so car rental places and all apparently are much alike.

There was no really outstanding restaurant in the area we stayed and after our three day stay were happy to get back to Puerto Rico and some semblance of civilization.

If you want to enjoy yourself stay on Puerto Rico- less hassle and more to do with better value for your money. And avoid May..

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1 Thank penultimate
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Yardley, Pennsylvania
1 review
1 helpful vote
“My favorite shopping place in Vieques”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 7 June 2011

The Caribbean Walk Craft Boutique in Isabella II is a great shopping experience! I went there 4 times during my 10 day stay in Vieques. The shop has beatiful hand crafted jewelry and other gifts. Richard and David who run the shop are two of the nicest people I met on the island. They not only have beautiful merchandise, but they were so willing to give us advice on places to see on the island and would map out directions for us. My husband and I had such a nice time in Vieques and plan on returning next year and our first stop will be the Caribbean Walk!

Helpful?
1 Thank suzannekut
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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