Vieques island, Puerto Rico
When the ferry to Vieques arrives in Isabel Segunda, the first sight that the mad frenzy of baggage laden passengers has is a throng of publico drivers touting for business and a line of mini-buses that have seen better days.
There are two main destinations for anyone visiting Vieques – Isabel Segunda is one of them, but we climbed aboard a publico headed to Esperanza on the south of the island, and Banana’s Guesthouse.
Fronted by a bar, Banana’s is an old sugar hacienda with quite basic – but comfortable – rooms. Not all rooms have air conditioning, but the massively effective ceiling fans will ensure you are kept cool.
The bar and restaurant are popular with visitors to Esperanza, but the food is rather unadventurous.
Jeep and scooter rental
Book a jeep before you arrive, as they tend to be fully booked. Many roads in Vieques are little more than dirt tracks and so any other transport is not really recommended.
Although you can hire scooters, I wouldn’t recommend it.
Sun Bay – or more correctly Sombay – is a huge stretch of sand just round the corner from Esperanza, where it’s easy to swim followed by a sleep under the shade of the palms. The water is fantastically clear and very warm, but the sandy bottom doesn’t make interesting snorkeling.
At weekends you’ll find just about everyone and their dog on the beach, but the public beach at Sun Bay is so long you’ll find somewhere to claim as your own. But if you can, Monday morning is definitely the best time to go to, as it’ll be completely deserted.
A short walk from the far end of Sun Bay is another beach at Moon Bay. As it’s too shallow to swim properly, the depth of the water is ideal for young families, but the number of ants and spikey sand spurs make Moon Bay too uncomfortable to stay long.
There is a variety of wildlife in the grounds of the beach – horses, cormorants, and even a rooster or two!
There are other more remote beaches too. To access these you’ll either need to find a publico driver who will take you there, or alternatively rent a jeep.
Iguanas on Vieques
Don’t be surprised to see large iguanas on the road – although they sometimes appear to be suicidal, they move pretty quickly when a car is getting close.
Iguana’s aren’t indigenous to Vieques – the population originates from escaped pets.
One of the most popular things to do in Vieques, especially if you’re staying in Esperanza, is to visit “bio bay“, supposedly the world’s best display of bioluminescence.
Unfortunately there were no places left for us and we didn’t feel like kayaking into the bay, so book well in advance and plan your visit to coincide with low moonlight.
Where to eat in Esperanza
Since Banana’s doesn’t serve breakfast, if you’re staying there you’ll need to find somewhere else for your morning feed.
However, just up the road – Esperanza is really small – is a breakfast-only joint called Tiki Hut, where you can eat eggs and bacon to the sound of country music.
They claim to do their eggs the way you want them, but when I asked for poached they told me “no”. The scrambled eggs I opted for instead were overcooked, and the nxt day one of my eggs cooked over-easy was broken – sorry, but I can do much better than that at home.
Lunch and dinner
Banana’s has a choice of easy to eat food like baked potatoes with chilli or chicken wings, but for our first night in Esperanza we decided to eat in a restaurant run by real Viequens.
Unfortunately we were made to feel quite unwelcome and we walked out. Instead we went to the restaurant at Trade Winds where we were welcomed and they have a good choice of seafood – including lobster.
The meal was good, but although we had the best table in the house, we were unable to appreciate the view as we dined so late 🙂
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