After our adventures on the mainland of Puerto Rico, we headed to the relaxing, beachy leg of our vacation.  Puerto Rico has two smaller islands, Vieques and Culebra, that are a ferry or small plane ride away from the mainland and are destinations in and of themselves.  We only made it to Vieques, but from everything we’ve heard, Culebra would also be on our next itinerary.  Vieques is where you go to relax, slow down, reconnect, and just enjoy the moment on island time.  It is known for its incredible and secluded beaches, most of which are named after colors (Red Beach, Silver Beach, etc.).  The names linger from when the island was used for training by the U.S. Navy.

One of the rockiest beaches, but a perfect illustration of how you often will have an entire beach all to yourself!


Vieques only has two towns: Isabel Segunda on the north shore, where the ferry and airplanes land, and Esperanza, which is a few miles away on the south shore.  Esperanza, where we stayed, has more restaurants, bars, etc., and is closer to more of the best beaches and the bioluminescent bay.  It has one main street that is lined with classic beach bars, small hotels run by owners who live on site, and some surprisingly gourmet food at a few of the nicer restaurants.  All are very island, beach friendly, though.

The main street of Esperanza.

We stayed at the sweetest hotel, Hacienda Tamarindo.  The hotel is only for adults, so if you want to check it out, make it a pre-baby trip, a babymoon, or leave the kiddos with Grandma.  The price of the hotel includes breakfast, beach chairs, and a cooler to load up to take to the beach.  They’ll even pack a lunch for you so you never have to come back.  They have snorkel gear, umbrellas, and pretty much anything else you would need that you can rent on an honor system.  The rooms aren’t fancy, but they are clean and comfortable.  Honestly, if you go to Vieques and spend any more time in your room than is necessary to sleep, you’ve wasted your trip.  The grounds are fantastic, with hammocks, a fantastic pool, and a view that’s hard to beat.

We spent our days lazing about enjoying each other, snorkeling right off the beaches, and cruising around in our Jeep, which is a necessity to get to many of the isolated beaches.  There’s a ton of wild horses that roam the island, and a wildlife refuge takes up a good chunk of the east side of the island.  It’s super common to be driving down the road and suddenly have to stop for horses to wander by.

One night we took a kayaking tour of Mosquito Bay, the world’s best bioluminescent bay.  We used Vieques Adventures, which has clear canoes, so as we moved through the water, we could see the glow all around us.  If you lift out a handful of water, it will trickle down like glowing fairy dust.  It was surreal and beautiful and perfect . . . until a fish jumped in our canoe and scared the beegeezus out of me!  Unfortunately, flash photography hurts the microoranisms that cause the bay to glow, so I have no pictures to share.

There is a lot of charm to Vieques.  It’s the kind of place that makes you dream together about ways to retire to a little island and spend your time enjoying sun and sea.  There aren’t a lot of attractions, so it forces you to just shed off the stresses and busyness of “real” life.  It was the perfect place to spend our last vacation as just two!

Do you prefer busy vacations full of lots of activities and attractions or would you rather go somewhere to slow down and relax?