Vieques trip report

Apr 5th, 2005, 09:59 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 33
Vieques trip report

My wife and I just returned from 4 days in Vieques, PR over the Easter weekend. I read all the recent posts on Vieques beforehand and found most all the information to be accurate so I'll try not to rehash what others have written before me. That being said, Iíll try to report on a few of the smaller details.

Arriving in San Juan, we had a slight delay in that we had to search a bit for our airline to Vieques (we chose Vieques Air Link). VAL did not have much in the way of signage so you might have to ask directions to their counter. With VAL and assumably all the other airlines you have leave the gate area and go to the terminal to check in, then return back through security. All the airlines to Vieques (and several other island destinations) seem to share the same few gates at the floor beneath the main floor of gates. There is no VAL desk at the gate or representative present until it is time to board. That made us a little nervous as no one came by until 15 minutes AFTER our flight was scheduled to depart. At that point, the VAL rep appeared and asked who was flying VAL to Vieques. That seemed to be the way for the other airlines, too, with the exception of Cape Air who had a desk at the gate and several representatives on hand the entire time. They seemed to be doing a brisk business. We and another couple were the only ones on our flight. The flight took 22 minutes. Flying back we went with M&N. Overall, we had a good experience with both airlines. You just have to turn off the American flying mindset when flying with these folks.

We stayed at the Hacienda Tamarindo. The publico (taxi bus) charged us $12 for the trip from the airport to the Hacienda. The HT had arranged to have our rental car (jeep) waiting for us when we arrived. Nice touch. It was a GEO Tracker from Maritzaís and suited us fine. It got us everywhere we needed to go including the worst of the dirt roads to the beaches. I don't think a 4WD is necessary to reach all the beaches. The main dirt roads definitely would not require it as we saw plenty of regular cars taking those roads. But Vieques had not received rain in quite some time so itís quite possible that we had an easier time navigating the more difficult roads because of that. Maritzaís was a good outfit and did not give us any surprise charges or the like. They are located very close to the airport and will give you a lift there after you turn in your rental.

The Hacienda Tamarindo was excellent. We were extremely pleased with our stay there. Itís a great space and has very attractive grounds. The pool area overlooking the Caribbean Sea was definitely very scenic. A dip in their pool was a great finish to a long day at the beach. Breakfast was excellent and plentiful. Also, the Hacienda will pack you a nice to-go lunch for 8.50 per person. We stayed in Room #3 and had a nice view to the Caribbean. Judging strictly by the various room locations, I would say rooms 22-25 were the best for views with 24 having a nice corner location that would likely afford some great, wide views. Room #4 (directly beneath 24) had a nice patio overlooking the pool and the Caribbean. The Hacienda is only about a 2 minute drive to Esperanza. Itís also conveniently located right door next to Island Adventures. They are a great outfit to take a Biobay tour with.

We ate at a few of the recommended restaurants Ė Chez Shack, Bili, Banannas, and Tradewinds. All were good we thought. Entrees at Chez Shack and Bili run in the $20 and up range. Banannas and Tradewinds are a little less expensive we thought. We loved the atmosphere and setting found at Chez Shack. Make sure you eat early as the restaurants donít stay open too late. Blue Macaw experienced a serious fire and is closed for quite some time (several months?). The absence of that restaurant means the same number of diners spread out over fewer restaurants. We found we were able to make reservations early in the afternoon of the day we planned to dine and had no problems. You might need to do it earlier for some of the more popular nights, e.g. Mondays at Chez Shack.

We spent the majority of our days on the various beaches. We learned upon arrival that Easter is the most crowded time of the year for the Vieques beaches as many Puerto Ricans traditionally camp on the beaches the week of Easter. Only a few beaches (Sun Bay, Media Luna, Navio) allow camping so that really concentrated folks on those beaches and left the day tripping tourists and residents alike to seek out other beaches. We drove by Media Luna and Navio but they were crowded with campers. But they looked very nice and likely would be virtually empty any other time than Easter. Red beach was nice, too. Green beach was great for snorkeling if you are interested in that. If you donít snorkel, you might be able to skip Green. Itís a little further away than the others and I didnít think it compared well to Blue, Red, etc when it came to beaches, sand, views, etc. We were told that the no-see-ums (biting flying insects) are bad at Green in the afternoon. We did not stick around to find out. We had no problems with bugs at any of the other beaches we went to no matter what time of day. Our favorite beach was Blue beach Ė a nice long beach for walking with wide sweeping views. There are also some additional, somewhat more remote and smaller, beaches in the vicinity with no real names and not identified, per se, on any map. If you have a sense of adventure, donít mind exploring every possible dirt road, are tolerant of bumpy, dusty roads full of washboard ruts and deep potholes, you will find them. We enjoyed the discovery of such beaches. Otherwise, stick to the main beaches which are perfectly wonderful anyway.

A couple of beach preparation tipsÖpack a lunch or pick up one on the way to the beach. Many of the beaches take some time to get to. It was kind of a bummer that first day to leave the beach, endure the tough driving to go back into town to eat, and then hit the dirt roads again to return to the beach. Also, in Esperanza, there is a small shop that rents snorkeling gear, beach umbrellas, and maybe some other stuff. I think it is called Caribes. The beach umbrella was great for us as it afforded us some shade from the hot sun when we wanted it. It was a great value at only $5 per day. Snorkeling gear was $10 per day. They were nice folks who were very accommodating.

I asked a local with good knowledge of development and he said the rumors about a casino opening in Vieques have been floating around for years. He wasnít too worried about the prospects of one opening because itís a long running rumor.

Overall we loved Vieques for all the reasons that people talk/write about. There were no unpleasant surprises. We thought reading all the information on this board provided us all the necessary info to insure a safe and enjoyable trip.

I've got some pictures, mostly of the Hacienda, if you want me to email them to you.
gt4889 is offline  
Apr 6th, 2005, 10:48 AM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 55
Glad to hear you liked Vieques - we were there for the first time in March and also stayed at the Hacienda Tamarindo - beautiful place! We also liked Blue Beach and another one we found that wasn't on the map that had great snorkelling. We never got to Chez Shack but we heard great things about it. We loved Tradewinds and Bili (the appetizers especially) Also, fyi - the room on the main floor with a terrace overlooking the pool and the caribbean is #5 (not #4) - we stayed in #5 and loved it! Just wanted to clarify that in case someone wanted to book that room in the future - it is the only one with a terrace/balcony.

Happy travels!
PAGirl is offline  
Apr 6th, 2005, 12:59 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 32
We just got back from Vieques last week and had an amazing time. We stayed during the Easter weekend and although all the hotels were fully booked, the island's 52 beaches dispersed the vacationers and none of the beaches felt least bit crowded.

We had a car through Marco's car rental. They have reasonably priced older cars, which was good since all the roads to beaches are dirt roads and some of them in pretty bad shape. We were lucky with our car rental. Some of our friends had reserved a car through Martineau car rental and had major problems with them. They were closed on the day we arrived. The next morning when picking up the car, they only got the car until Sunday instead of the booked end date on Monday, gave a sedan instead of Suzuki Tacker and suddenly the price had gone up also. We heard from locals later that they have tendency to just basically screw the customer over. So warning to all travelers regarding this car rental company!! With Marco's car rental we were able to leave the car to the airport when we left so that gave us more vacation time.

We stayed at Bravo's in Isabel Segundo. What an amazing hotel!! We had room #6 with Ocean view. I'll never forget the place and the service. When I did my research on the hotels I noticed that some hotels charge an additional 10% service fee on top of the room + tax. So what might look like a good/ cheaper place, ends up costing just a little bit less than a more upscale hotel.

At first I was a little bit aware of Bravo being on the north shore whereas all the 'activity' and beaches seemed to be on the south shore, but since you must have a car anyways on the island it really didn't make a difference of driving 5 mins vs. 10 mins from hotel to Esperanza.

Isabel Segundo is the capital with post office, etc. and it has some nice cute architecture. Esperanza is more for going out with about 8 restaurants/ bars lined up. We ate in many of them, but Media Luna restaurant in Isabel Segundo is one of the best restaurants I've ever been to. Reservation is recommended and the food is to die for!

CassieWithBag is offline  
Apr 12th, 2005, 02:10 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 4,870
I've been looking into the Hacienda Tamarindo as a prospective place to take a granddaughter for her 13th birthday. (Right now Mom won't let her travel out of the country, but we think we might be able to swing PR with proper persuasion.) We're thinking 3 nights in VIeques and one night at El Convento in OSJ.

My question is regarding the spaciousness of the rooms. Would adding a 3rd person to the room make it too crowded for comfort? Has anybody seen the 1 bedroom suite there?

The more I read about Vieques, the more I want to go there even if we don't take the kiddo--the biobays should be seen sooner rather than later with the development I foresee happening here.

Any other tips for activities with a 13 year old? We figure on biobay, snorkeling, and horseback riding will take up most of our time, but I'm open to suggestions. Thanks!

ejcrowe is offline  
Apr 18th, 2005, 08:14 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 33
We saw the suite at Hacienda. It would be suitable for a 3rd person as the bedroom is completely separate from the living room where there is a foldout or day bed or something of the like.
The regular rooms are big enough I think to accomodate a rollaway bed but am unsure if the HT have those.
I think you pretty much named all the activities on Vieques. Many posters have said that Vieques might not be the best for kids due to lack of suitable activities. We don't have kids so I'm not the best to answer that question. However, we did not see too many kids while we were there.
Hope that helps.
gt4889 is offline  
Apr 19th, 2005, 03:36 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 4,870
Thanks, gt! I've since been in contact with Burr at HT and he told me that they have one room with both a queen and a twin bed, so we'll either go for that or a suite. I know Vieques has a reputation for being sleepy, but I think 3 nights there would be wonderful with the 13-year old. She loves the beach and would love to try horseback riding, so the island looks custom made for us. We'll also spend our last night in Old San Juan for a bit of history & culture before departing home. That is, if we can secure her mother's permission to take her. When we took her sister two years ago for her 13th birthday we had to stay in the US, preferably east of the MS river, so we chose New Orleans. We think we can swing Puerto Rico with a little persuasion this year, however.
ejcrowe is offline  
Apr 20th, 2005, 10:41 AM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 55
ejcrowe - not sure what time of year you are planning on going to Vieques - but on the Haciena Tamarindo's website they have the following statement - "Sorry, no children under 15 years, under 8 years during low season". You will be fine if going during the low season.
PAGirl is offline  
Apr 20th, 2005, 11:19 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 4,870
THanks, PAGirl. I've been emailing the owner, Burr, about traveling with her and he feels he can make an exception for her providing we're not traveling during President's week in Feb or over New Year's. He said I caught him in a weak moment while his own grandson was visiting, and that if our 13 year gets a good report card this year that he'll welcome her as a guest. Kinda cute.
ejcrowe is offline  

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